Last evening my friend Fredrick Ombako posted this on his Facebook:
SECURITY IN KENYA
Our security forces have taken an ex-post approach to dealing with crimes in Kenya i.e. they respond to events after they have occurred. A case in point is the airports. Currently all airports (and airstrips) in Kenya have beefed up security by posting more police officers to perform checks on all vehicles and individuals.
Other than inconveniencing travelers, this can be a diversion used by terrorists to strike places they intend to with maximum fatality. It is a fact that we have fewer police officers than we need. The stop-gap measure to send more police officers to airports leaves other places such as banks, malls, parks, bus stages, etc with fewer police officers and therefore a vulnerable breeding ground for terrorist activities.
Let us invest in modern policing technology. We cannot have police everywhere. In fact, some of them could be blown up as they check those cars. It is not like those officers are bomb demolition experts. *Can’t* we use technology to fight crime? I am sure what we are witnessing in Kenyan airports today is not exactly what happens in other international airports. We can use the few officers elsewhere as we use technology to fight crime.
In his post Fred asked a very important question, Can’t we use technology to fight crime? And the answer is a straight yes. In June 2013, the Governor of Mombasa launched 6 police cars complete with high-tech features. The cars are fitted with cameras that “can produce clear images of objects as far as 500 meters away.”
Then comes in Governor Mutua of Machokos who has turned Governor Joho’s initiative a child’s play. On Thursday Dr. Mutua unveiled the Machakos comprehensive security program that includes a fleet of 120 high-tech security cars where the 69 locations in Machakos will get a patrol car each, all tarmacked roads will also get a patrol car and the major streets of major towns will also be patrolled apart from being under 24 hour CCT surveillance.
The high-tech vehicles have tracking systems that will enable deployment of a vehicle near a crime scene to tackle the crime incidence. The Machakos comprehensive programme also has 500 CCTV cameras that have already been installed in all major towns, all banks, and all markets in Machakos county, and an already operational forensic laboratory that the Governor said is the first forensic center in Kenya. The center features scenes of crime teams,special DNA equipment and cutting edge forensic investigations.
Included in the Machakos comprehensive security programme are the ordered gun detectors for police officers to do door to door searches to confiscate illegal guns, 40 police dogs to help police officers “to track rapists, thieves, murderers and all those with intentions of breaking the law,” Mutua said.
Scaling Machako’s comprehensive security programme to all counties
As a country we are used to traveling to the developed world in order to learn a trick or two on how to solve our domestic problems. Last year CORD governors were taken to the US so that they could learn how States/Counties are governed and probably to also meet investors interested in investing in their respective counties.
But when it comes to deploying high-tech security solutions the Governors don’t need to spend millions of shillings to fly out of the country, they only need to pitch tents in Mombasa and Machakos counties that seem to be having a joy ride in implementing seemingly working solutions for the insecurity problem.
What the Governors need to ask Mutua and Joho are, “How did you guys get those high-tech vehicles?” “How much did they cost?” “How do you integrate them with CCTV cameras?” “How do you set up a central monitoring system?” “How do you manage to do politics and development simultaneously?”
Fighting crime with high-tech security vehicles
Although Dr. Mutua and Hon. Joho have met their fair share of criticism, including these:
Nobody asking about the suitabilty of Nissan Tiidas as patrol cars in the event of emergency or other critical police work. Governor Mutuas plans always come off as grand ventures with no talk of feasibility or long term viability – comment in Daily Nation
I wish that road was enlarged first – comment in Daily Nation
Our leaders should know that just the sight of a police or the knowledge that a police patrol car is around the corner reduces crime by more than 15% as some studies have shown. It is therefore important for the National and County leaders to borrow a leaf or two from D.r Mutua and Governor Joho in deploying high-tech security solutions all over the country.
Let the reforms that are ongoing in the police include modernizing the Police Stations and Posts e.g. the computerizing the Occurrence Books, modernizing the police mobile weapons e.g. police should walk around with easy to carry pistols instead of the huge G3 riffles, and in addition to modernizing their patrol vehicles, let the police use high-tech tracking gadgets e.g. each police officer on patrol should have a navigation equipment – even if they must use the free Google Maps on an Android device.