Police service ready for the August 9 polls

Police officers

Administration Police officers at Griftu Training Centre in Wajir County on April 24, 2019 before they were dispatched to various polling stations for Wajir West by-election. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

August 9 General Election will be a momentous occasion, when Kenyans will decide their leadership aspirations for the next five-year political cycle. From the electoral point of view, that ought to be flawless and processed in a ‘free and fair’ environment.

Election management is the preserve of IEBC. Yet the National Police Service (NPS) ranks higher on the pecking order. By law and common sense, the police are charged with providing security. Free and fair elections are preceded by a safe and secure environment, where players conduct their business freely, confidently and without hindrance or fear. That is why police officers providing security for elections are classified as ‘election officers’.

This journey of purpose didn’t commence yesterday but since 2017. We took stock of our past performance, learning lessons from our mistakes. We listened to our partners, such as the courts and the public. Internally, we soul-searched, eye-balled one another and came to terms with our strengths vis-à-vis our weaknesses. That made us a better law enforcement agency and more competent for the job.

We have adequate boots on the ground—motivated men and women not only in blue but ably and generously supported by our trusted public security agency partners. The Inspector-General will soon gazette these as ‘special police officers’.

In collaboration with IEBC, we have developed adequate training resources for all security providers, targeting both levels of command and frontline. A training outreach targeting every officer is ongoing. An informed officer is a performing officer.

Training is not limited to legal and operational theory but also public order management. This is a risk mitigation approach tackling the thorny grey area where Murphy’s Law applies: If anything can go wrong, it will. Officers are taken through real order challenge simulations and response and management through a risk-based de-escalation theory of democratic policing values. We work with human rights organisations, the public and other stakeholders. Use of force is a key ingredient.

We engage in complementary broad multi-agency cooperation with the larger security and law enforcement networks. For instance, we collaborate with CA and NCIC to build requisite cybercrime investigatory capabilities of tackling the invidious threat of hate mongering through social media. Being the political ‘silly season’, many abuse the internet, specifically social media, to spread fake news.

NPS is also collaborating with NCIC, Special Olympics, Mkenya Daima and others to preach peace as a key catalyst of secured free and fair elections. In addition to messaging on our platforms, a major peace torch run targeting all 47 counties to spread “peace and friendship” is planned. We collaborate with the media on election preparedness updates.

Lastly, at the core of our plan is the security of female candidates. The IG has given firm instructions to the rank and file to serve not only fairly, and remain apolitical, but also be more responsive to the security needs of women and marginalised groups.

Mr Shioso is the NPS corporate communications director/spokesperson. [email protected]


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