NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – Kenya’s newly appointed Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere is promising far-reaching reforms in the security agency as he embarks on the task of fighting soaring crime in the country.
Mr Iteere who held a joint press conference with Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti at the Ministry headquarters on Thursday said he is “determined to bring change in the country’s security management.”
“I am up to the task ahead and I pledge to do the best to bring security challenges to manageable levels. I will prioritise the war on organised gangs,” he said.
Prof Saitoti announced that there were plans to review and harmonise remuneration of police officers in order to “boost their morale.”
“We know the challenges the police are facing. These are all things we are working on and the government is ready to spend more money in this financial year to improve the welfare of the police,” he said.
The Minister also announced plans to pay police officers the transfer allowances and secure a medical scheme for them as well as reviewing their salaries.
“These are some of the things we want to do to boost the morale of our police officers. We at the Ministry will work closely with the new Commissioner to achieve our goals,” Prof Saitoti said and directed Mr Iteere to review the number of road blocks in the country most of which he said serve as “toll stations for corruption.”
Mr Iteere said he would implement the Minister’s directive and urged the public to help identify other challenges facing them through the community policing forums.
Mr Iteere who formerly headed the General Service Unit (GSU) said his other main challenge ahead is fighting corruption and impunity in all police departments.
“This (corruption) will soon become a thing of the past. It will be history. We will work closely with the public and other government agencies in achieving this,” he said.
The immediate former Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali who was sacked on Tuesday had been accused by both local and international rights organisations of entrenching impunity in the department.
He was earlier this year discussed at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland where a report on extra-judicial killings by the UN’s Rapportteur for Human Rights Prof Philip Alston was tabled.
Locally, rights organisations including the state-run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) had indicted him over the killing of some 1,000 or more suspected Mungiki sect members allegedly killed by the law enforcement agencies since 2005.
And when he handed over to the new Commissioner on Tuesday, Maj Gen Ali who has been re-deployed to head the Postal Corporation of Kenya defended his track records and referred those criticising him and his tenure as being “self-centered.”
Clearly, the war on Mungiki and other organised gangs appears to be the major challenge ahead of the new Commissioner and his team.
Many will be waiting to see how Mr Iteere deals with the dreaded gangs, corruption and other emerging trends of crime in the country.
On Thursday, the new police chief who formally took over office on Wednesday said he has scheduled a meeting with all Provincial Police chiefs and formation commanders where they will deliberate on the best way to tackle crime.
“I will be meeting all the PPO’s and other senior officers on Monday to strategise. I am determined to win the war on crime. We want to make Kenya a safe place for all of us,” he said.
Mr Iteere could not reveal how soon it would take him to make changes at the managerial levels of key police departments, some of which were left by senior officers promoted by President Mwai Kibaki.
Sources told Capital News they would be made before the end of the month “because they are urgent.”
“There has been intense lobbying since Friday, officers in various departments within Police Headquarters and even at the provincial levels are already re-aligning themselves,” a source with knowledge of the latest state of affairs at Vigilance House said.