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Security risk as police bosses fight for power

Daily Nation
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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Police bosses are embroiled in deepening wrangles and turf wars even as security deteriorates across the country.

A cold war between Inspector General David Kimaiyo and the chairman of the National Police Service Commission (NPSC), Mr Johnstone Kavuludi, burst to the open Tuesday as the two battled over the recruitment of county commanders.

They are also fighting over proposals to amend the law to give the Inspector General more authority in the appointment, transfer and disciplining of officers.

Tuesday, Mr Kavuludi sensationally claimed that there was a plot to derail the recruitment of 47 county police commanders by anti-reformers.

“There has been a concerted attempt to derail the vetting and interview of officers for the position of county commanders. However, we are pleased to note that the Commission has received over 300 applications for these 94 advertised positions,” he said.

He did not directly accuse Mr Kimaiyo of attempting to scuttle the recruitment but he may have been reacting to a memo sent on Monday night by the Inspector General advising senior officers not to apply for the positions. The application deadline was Tuesday.

Mr Kimaiyo has previously denounced the recruitment, saying he and his two deputies were not consulted by the commission.

Mr Kavuludi and other commissioners were attending a meeting in Naivasha to agree on the criteria for vetting of the county police bosses. Mr Kimaiyo had apparently excused himself from the workshop to deal with the wave of insecurity in the country. His absence at the important process hints at the disastrous alienation of top police officers from essential functions over a force for which they have command responsibility.

Police reforms carried out since the election are an interesting experiment. It remains to be seen whether a commander can effectively control a force whose members he has no power to hire, sack, promote, transfer or discipline.

The NPSC has nine members. The IG and two other representatives of the force are ordinary members and business can be transacted without them.

In contrast, the 11-member Judicial Service Commission chaired by the Chief Justice is predominantly made up of lawyers: Three judges, one magistrate, the Attorney-General and two lawyers nominated by the Law Society of Kenya.

The in-fighting in the leadership of the police force is already having an impact on policing. There are signs of worsening discipline in the force as well as disenchantment and apathy, especially from the officer cadre which is facing the sack in the reforms.

Tuesday, 10 hardcore criminals escaped from Kamukunji police station and a police officer was arrested allegedly after attempting to hijack a trailer. Crime has reached almost unprecedented levels in addition to the massacres in Busia and Bungoma and terror attacks in Garissa and Wajir.

Mr Kimaiyo’s position on the recruitment has shifted dramatically over the past month.

On April 16, he wrote to NPSC recommending the appointment of county commanders to replace Provincial Police Officers whose positions have been scrapped. The letter was titled: “Proposal for the selection and appointment of police officers to the position of officers commanding police counties and review of appointments at formations and directorates at the headquarters levels.”

Mr Kimaiyo suggested the hiring of County Kenya Police Service Commanding Officers (CKPSCO), County Administration Police Commanding Officers (CAPSCO) and County Criminal Investigations Officers (CCIO) to head police activities at the counties for the regular, AP and criminal investigation departments.

Mr Kimaiyo could not be reached to comment on the apparent change of heart.

At issue also are proposed amendments to the National Police Service Act.

Yesterday, the NPSC blamed “forces opposed to police reforms” for the amendments which — if passed — will significantly empower the office of the Inspector General while weakening the commission.

“It has come as a shock to the National Police Service Commission that some senior officers in the Public Service who are not members of this commission, have proposed amendments to the National Police Service Act, 2011, with the intention of derailing police reforms,” Mr Kavuludi said at the workshop at Sopa Lodge in Naivasha.

“The proposed amendments, which are being done clandestinely, are intended to severely water down the powers of the Commission. These amendments have neither been done with our knowledge, participation or approval, nor the participation of other stakeholders,” he said.

He added that the amendments include a “frightening indemnity clause” where police officers who carry out illegal orders from their superiors are protected. He asked MPs to reject the changes.

The amendments propose independent powers for the Inspector General to promote, transfer and discipline officers.

It also wants the Inspector General to be the one who receives reports recommending disciplinary measures against officers such as interdiction or suspension. Currently, NPSC receives the reports.

Mr Kimaiyo was quoted on Sunday confirming that he is aware of the amendments. He, however, said they did not originate from his office.

Additional reporting by Macharia Mwangi and Joyce Kimani

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