Implement reforms to improve police service

A report on proposed police reforms presented to President William Ruto contains some really good news for the majority of the hardworking officers.

The National Task Force on Police Reforms chaired by former Chief Justice David Maraga wants a 40 per cent pay rise for the police, prisons, and National Youth Service. The entry age for the officers should be raised from 18 to 21, and the minimum qualifications for recruitment from D-plus to C-minus.

If effected, these proposals will improve the calibre of the officers, with the training period being extended from nine to 12 months and 15 months for the cadets. Also sought are medical cover, house allowance and automated promotions, indicating the commitment to improving the welfare of these officers.

Efforts to streamline management and operations are long overdue. Police officers engage in bribery, falsely accuse, lock up and even kill suspects in custody and get away with it. Only a few cases ever reach the courts. This must change.

According to available statistics, one in every three Kenyans has experienced police abuse or harassment. Some 128 cases of extrajudicial killings were recorded between October last year and August this year. It is, however, encouraging that between 2017 and 2022, at least 42 police officers were tried and convicted. Police should be protectors from crime and not the perpetrators.

Some officers have been accused of using government-issued firearms to commit or facilitate crimes. Bribes of up to Sh600,000 are paid to secure police job slots. There is also blatant disregard of traffic rules by drivers of public service vehicles owned by security officials. These crooked officers also run most of the motor vehicle breakdown services, alcohol and gambling outlets, including illicit ones. Their involvement in business compromises their impartiality and professionalism.

The officers, who are expected to enforce law and order, routinely abet its violation. Prisons officers also collude with inmates notorious for online scams targeting money transfer services. The task force wants roadblocks abolished and replaced with mobile patrol units.

All these proposals should be speedily reviewed and stringently implemented to curb corruption and enhance efficiency.