The recent terrorists attack at Garissa University College has left us with many negative impression of the Kenya Police Service. Following the incident, I can confidently describe the Kenya Police Services as an incompetent, old schooled, and narrow-minded institution that is ignorant of almost all current digitally oriented mode of police operations. The police protocol, police equipment, and police personnel are all technologically inept; inadequacies that need urgent and immediate redress to at least meet the 21st century policing standards. First things first, police personnel must receive immediate and thorough training in additional to the requirement that the current recruitment procedure be completely overhauled for a better and more competent recruitment process.
Upgrading the police personnel through new recruitment method and training
I would have loved to use a kinder word but I’m sorry, our police service is constituted by some of the daftest Kenyans one can ever come across. I don’t want to describe the many daily unpleasant incidences Kenyans have to bear due to this daftness, but back in 2011 I had to spend a night in a filthy police cell simply because I was sick hence unable to speak “friendly”.
You really cannot expect a daft person to deliver a service of quality that sharp reasonable individuals can provide. You cannot also expect a daft person to catch up with the ever changing technology landscape we are accustomed to in the current digital world. Understanding duties and responsibilities, properly responding to different circumstances, and being able to adapt to changing societal expectations all require a certain level of mental acuity, memory, focus, concentration, and understanding.
To have a personnel with the minimum mental sharpness able to deliver more than a physical service – a personnel that is capable of comprehending social and human rights dynamics, require that a recruitment exercise must consider more than the ability of an individual to run faster for longer. The beauty contests can serve as an example.
Back in the days when I was growing up, to become a beauty queen (Ms World, Ms Universe, Ms Tourism Kenya, etc), the only thing the lady had to show is how curvy, tall and light skinned her mom and dad had conceived her, and how she could reveal these in a cat-walk. As the years progressed, it was realized that these beauty queens were important celebrities that were useful in representing the world or countries in mentally demanding tasks such as poverty alleviation projects, human rights campaigns, or brand representations. To do these, the beauty queens needed to have a brain on that physical beauty; and since then, physical beauty alone cannot help an extremely beautiful but naive lady become a Ms World.
In US for instance, police recruitment initially targeted “males who [were of a certain height] and who could lift a certain amount of weight” but that has since changed where basic comprehensions skills are considered in the recruitment exercise. In today’s US police recruitment process, applicants need to undergo “interviews, background checks, written exams, drug tests, and psychological evaluations” and should have met “educational and training requirements” as stipulated by respective states.
Still in US, the country undertakes its police recruitment through a continuous application oriented programme but not via a one day event where potential recruits are required to compete in athletics or in any similar physically demanding exercise.
To ensure that we get rid of inept Kenyans from getting into our National Police Service, we need to overhaul the recruitment exercise and substitute it with a professionally structured method where those willing to join the service must send in applications, be vetted via interviews and background checks, undergo psychological, health and IQ oriented tests, take written exams, pass all these, and only then be admitted to the service.
The next step after recruitment is the training programme. In Kenya’s Police Reforms, part of the reforms already implement is the increased training duration in which recruits are currently subjected to 15 months of training. I am not in a position to fault the current training programme as I am not privy to the syllabus and content of training. What I would recommend is that, just as any other professional institution that requires staff to continually undergo refresher causes to acquire new knowledge or sharpen skills, each and every police officer needs to undergo fresh training on key policing fundamentals including training on new technologies and trends useful for enforcing law and order. Continued training, retraining and advancement in knowledge and skills must be a core foundation of the police training curriculum.
In page 2 we discuss state of the current police equipment.
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