Why I sympathise with the police

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BY CATHERINE KARONG’O

I am scared.

Scared, because it has suddenly become ‘normal’ to hear stores that somebody has been robbed, shot or kidnapped. And what is more frustrating is the fact that sometimes this happens in broad day light as police officers turn a blind eye.

Kenyans have shouted on top of their voices but the insecurity still rages.

And the question in most people’s lips is, why?

As much as we are complaining of the security threats, we need to look at the bigger picture. Why is the police force no longer appearing as eager to fight crime as it used to be? Why is it that they seem to turn a blind eye even when they see some of these offences taking place?

I dare say that the reason for the rising wave of crime in the country is because the police force is no longer motivated.

How would you feel, if you and your family were living in a tent because you don’t have better housing, and you are expected to smile all the way and enforce the law?

That is the state of affairs for some administration police men. Reason? Their so called houses burnt down in an inferno and their employer who provides shelter has not done much to change the situation.

Looking at the way most of our police officers live, sharing accommodation with two or three other families in very small houses is, to say the least, unacceptable.

Do you expect the same officers to come and enforce the law? To be frank, I don’t; they have no reason to.

Their salaries are also wanting. I can’t say with authority how much they earn but I am told by a reliable source that some officers in blue earn as low as Sh13,000 per month.

Surely, someone whose job can be termed as a ‘risky profession’ earning such an amount is uncalled for. How do you expect them to expose themselves to risk for Sh13,000? Is it really worth it?

These same people who are expected to enforce the law are not well equipped with the machinery they require to do it. This reminds me of when Kiraitu Murungi (Energy Minister) said during the 2005 referendum campaign: “We will use machinery that will shake this country.”

I wish the government would have such spirit in equipping the police force. I don’t expect a police officer who is not well equipped with a powerful riffle to run into danger. This is one of the reasons why you hear of cases where police officers are shot, because the gangsters are better equipped than the police themselves.

Vehicles are also an issue. I have a friend who lives in one of the estates that are considered safe in Nairobi.  But every week there are about two carjacking incidents outside their gate.

The nearest police station is just a ten minutes drive. But every time the security officers make a distress call, the police arrive 30-45 minutes later. Reason: there was no available vehicle. Can we blame them?

So, my point is that all this boils down to the employer who in this case is the government. The government needs to ensure its employees (police officers) are well motivated and equipped to perform their core duty of providing security to the citizens of this country.

(Catherine Karong’o is a Capital News reporter)

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