I won’t delve into details on the type of equipment used by our police officers – ranging from the simple but outdated 1940s walkies talkies and the 1950s G3 riffles that are still fundamental in the day to day running of of Kenya police operations, at a time when communication gadgets have been upgraded to blue tooth controlled chipsets and modern day 9 mm revolvers, but I would just refer you to a post I did at the wake of Westgate Attack. In that post, I compared the standards of police equipment in use today in relation to what is in use elsewhere and shared with you a particular image depicting Kenya’s 999 service centre vis a vis a US 911 service centre. Needless to say, criminals and terrorists use the modern day sophisticated communication gadgets and weaponry at a time when our police service is still stuck with old mid 20th century technologies.
Today I will compare what a modern day police station looks like (fist image) vis a vis what a typical Kenyan police station looks like (image 2).
When I wrote the Westgate Attack article, a commenter on Facebook was of the opinion that we cannot compare our police centres (999 in this case) with US system since US has had years to advance technologically, an advancement that will take us at least another 50 years to catch up with. I however pointed out to the commenter that we in Kenya are already at per with US and other developed countries in technologies we deploy in the private sector e.g. in Safaricom’s customer care centres.
In the public sector including government owned banks, we are already at per with modern standards of service delivery via the likes of Huduma Centres.
For the purposes of this article I would like to bring to the attention of our readers that our government is capable of upgrading major police stations to modern standards, and we have Huduma Centres as examples. If for example it will cost the government Shs 5 million (inflated to take care of corruption) to upgrade a police station with key computers and other ICT gadgets, and if the government budgets to upgrade at least three police stations per county, it will require less than Shs 1 billion to have at least 141 police stations upgraded to modern standards, a target that can be achieved in less than a year. Shs I billion, you should agree with me, is way less than Shs 2.8 billion scandal reported in Graft Diaries by KTN. If the government is serious about fighting corruption, it should be able to recover, this year alone, more than shs 300 billion that have disappeared in people’s pockets, monies that can be used to deliver Anglo Leasing type of security projects and more.
If for example all our police stations were modernized and networked, then it would be possible for a police station in Nairobi to know of a reported crime by a far fetched Kenya-Somali border police post in real time. That a police officer in patrol could be able to get real time alert message delivered to his phone of a nearby ongoing crime thanks to a concerned citizen who reported that incident via an online police platform would do more in curbing crime – much more than the current situation where police officers patrol estates to take bribes from the usual pubs that operate beyond Mututho hours.
Lastly I would like to mention that the transport facilities available to our police officers are equally outdated. Machakos and Mombasa counties did a good job by acquiring modern police cars, and I thought other counties could borrow a leaf and follow suit, but that’s yet to be seen. But since the Kenya Police Service is a National Service, I expected the National Government to move with speed and equip all counties with similar police cars. That again, I wait to see.
What pains me is the response time we saw in the Garissa Attack. I still can’t understand why it took the Recce Squad at least seven hours to arrive at Garissa. I also don’t understand why the KDF personnel, who allegedly asked the Recce Squad to stay away, could not contain the situation within minutes even after they had said they were up to the task. What I don’t understand most is why we have to pay for written-off transport machines like the second hand and outdated helicopter parts that contributed to the delayed response. Even though I don’t understand these intricate matters, I won’t ask you to pray as, as have been proven over and again, prayers never work to sort these kind of dilemma. Your government though, will soon call a national day of prayer to pray over these technological-inadequacy instigated problems.
If we can move a step forward to recruit police personnel professionally through a continued but controlled application process, provide the recruits with adequate, modern, and continual training, and equip them with up to date tools and equipment that are constantly upgraded as technology changes, then we shall have been assured of our security. But first things first, we must get rid of corruption.
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