IG must vindicate himself by steering police to excellence

NAIROBI: After a vetting process by Parliament that raised several issues, new Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett finally took over the reins of power on Wednesday, after being been sworn in by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

Compared to the task ahead of him, Parliament’s vetting was a walk in the park and the new IG must demonstrate he has what it takes to transform the police service.

The dark cloud that hung over the authenticity of his academic certificates must give him reason to work even harder to excel where his predecessor failed and vindicate himself and the President for nominating him. In order to succeed, the new IG must strive to become a team player and earn the respect and confidence of junior officers, who can as easily make him succeed or fail.

Drawing from his experience as an intelligence officer in the police service, Mr Boinett must move fast to address the challenges of a demoralised police service in dire need of revamping and reforms to modernise its operations and make it more efficient.

The bad blood between the regular police and their Administration counterparts needs to be cleared to optimise efficiency in tackling crime.

Incidents last year when an all-out war threatened to break out between the two camps of law enforcers should be a thing of the past. Poor remuneration for police officers, despicable housing and difficult working conditions have conspired to lower the morale of policemen to dangerous levels.

Cases of officers shooting themselves and their spouses are symptomatic of a deeper malaise that has to do with self-esteem; which police officers lack. Mr Boinett comes on board at a time that corruption, which pervades all levels of governance and society at large, has reared its ugly head.

Once credible institutions like the National Assembly and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are reeling under the weight of corruption cases. Year in year out, the police have led in the ignoble rankings of corruption in the country.

This gives the IG a reference point from which to attack his duties.  Despite the lull, the problem of insecurity is far from over and the perennial skirmishes in areas like Turkana, Pokot and other volatile areas in the country deserve his special attention.

The people’s cries for assistance against cattle rustlers who kill with abandon must be heeded. Displacements arising from insecurity are hampering economic activities in most areas of the country. Petty crime is on the increase and no efforts should be spared in tackling the criminals.

Above all, the Inspector General would do well by emphasising on a cordial working relationship between his officers and members of the public. The perception people have of the police as bullies and incorrigibly corrupt has to be rectified, with the onus lying on the IG.

The public policing concept of Nyumba Kumi deserves a revisit. The staffing gap in the policing ranks can be bridged by credible intelligence from members of the public. Last year, the Independent Police Oversight Authority decried the presence of rogue policemen in the Police service.

It is therefore necessary that undisciplined officers and those who fall under the rogue category are relieved of their duties to help redeem the dented police image. The Inspector General should also be instrumental in ensuring police reforms initiated after the promulgation of the Constitution 2010 are expedited and fully implemented.