Kinoti, the battle-hardened crime buster who ended Flying Squad

George Kinoti

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti. 

Photo credit: File

The outgoing Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti will for long be remembered for disbanding the elite Flying Squad and the Special Crimes Prevention Units (SCPU).

In a reorganisation announced on December 31, 2019, Kinoti replaced the SCPU with the Special Service Unit (SSU), a smaller specialised unit that took over the duties previously discharged by the SCPU.

The SSU has its head offices at the Nairobi Area Traffic Police Headquarters along Ngong Road and Nairobi metropolitan area offices at the Nairobi Area police headquarters next to the Integrity Centre.

All officers in the Flying Squad’s headquarters and regional offices were moved to DCI offices countrywide.

Only Corporal Elijah Mbaluka was absorbed by the SSU to retain institutional memory.

The detectives previously serving with the SCPU were absorbed by the SSU headed by Senior Superintendent of Police Pius Gitari who was the SCPC commander.

Mr Kinoti established the Sting Squad Headquarters (SSH) with 50 officers based at the DCI headquarters to replace the Flying Squad Unit.

The Flying Squad was dreaded across the country as its officers were known to shoot and kill offenders at the slightest provocation.

“This marks the end of the Flying Squad Unit and no officer will present himself or herself to the public as such,” the DCI said in a statement at the time.

“To replace the Flying Squad and create an auxiliary support team on identified, researched and profiled crimes, another squad has been formed and named Sting Squad Headquarters (SSH) that will have a maximum of 50 specialised trained officers who will respond to specific cases.”

Mr Kinoti also expanded the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) to Criminal Research and Intelligence Bureau (CRIB) to work closely with SSU and SSH in intelligence-driven operations alongside other augmenting Units such as Cybercrime, Ballistics, Scenes of Crime Units and the Principal Crime Registrar.

Bank and armed robberies

The Flying Squad Unit was formed in July 1992 as Anti Motor Vehicle Theft Unit before it expanded to a specialised unit dealing with bank and armed robberies.

It had offices in Makuyu – Murang’a county and Nakuru and Eldoret towns.

Officers deployed in the units had undergone intense training in and outside the country leading to the upgrading of their competencies, enhanced skills and knowledge aimed at making the Unit more effective and efficient.

It dealt with organised crimes including armed robberies, kidnappings, motor vehicle theft, sale and distribution of contraband and substandard goods.

The DCI said the competitively selected officers will undertake specialised courses within and outside the country touching on their core areas of operation.

Mr Kinoti also expanded the Homicide (DNA, Toxicological, Chemistry and Biology Lab Units), which have been installed in the Ultra-Modern Forensic Laboratory at the DCI headquarters.

Both squads are always on standby 24/7 as needed in critical crime emergencies within the country.

Mr Kinoti also emboldened the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) which recruited and trained more officers and opened regional offices in Mombasa during his tenure.

Mr Kinoti also established the Anti-Counterfeit Unit which has been working closely with the Anti-Counterfeit Agency to decimate counterfeit and contraband goods in the country.

Mr Kinoti made a name as the head of the now-defunct Kanga squad that had been formed to tackle rising crime in 2005.

While he managed to contain the situation, the now former DCI boss had a brush with death in 2005 along Jogoo Road when he intervened after he alone found thugs robbing a female motorist.

The thugs would in turn fire 28 bullets some of which caught Mr Kinoti and left him in a coma for days.

Under his reign as DCI boss, Mr Kinoti sought to own the narrative by on-boarding a communications unit that provided shakes-spearean-esque accounts of major crimes solved by detectives.

He also opened the DCI canteen to members of the public.

However, on Tuesday, his chequered career with the Kiambu Road-based elite unit came to an end after President William Ruto announced his resignation.

"I have also received the resignation of DCI Kinoti and directed the national police service to proceed with advertising that position. Meanwhile, they should get somebody to act in that position," Dr Ruto stated.

The president had accused the crime buster of using the DCI to settle political scores on behalf of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime.

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