, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere is considering a strategy review of the community policing project which was launched five years ago, saying the current plans have failed.
Mr Iteere publicly admitted on Thursday that the project was no longer working and expressed fears that it may not succeed after all, because “police officers have not changed their poor attitude.”
“This community policing project is not doing well, apart from a few isolated areas where it has succeeded. Generally, it is very poor and something must be done,” the police chief said at the inauguration of a Trainers of Trainers course at the Administration Police College in Embakasi.
The course aims to train senior officers, who will in turn be training recruits at both the regular and administration police units.
He said: “Most police officers who interact with members of the public on a daily basis have not changed their attitude at all. We cannot succeed in community policing if this is left to go on like that.”
The project was launched by President Mwai Kibaki in 2005 and was aimed to boost the cooperation between police officers and the public in fighting crime.
Five years later, the project has achieved minimal results or none at all in many parts of the country where members of the public still fear sharing information with police officers.
In his address to participants at the trainer’s forum on Thursday, Mr Iteere blamed failure of the community policing project to what he termed as “mistrust between police officers and the public.”
“There is that negative attitude members of the public still have on police officers, this must change for the project to succeed,” he added.
Mr Iteere challenged senior officers responsible for implementing the project to come up with new strategies and ensure it succeeds.
Citing the police reform process that is being spearheaded by a team led by Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni, the police chief said a number of factors are immensely contributing to the poor image the police have today.
“We were credited as the best police department in the region in the 70s; we were number two in Africa. When did the rain start beating us?” he posed.
Mr Naikuni and the Commandant of the Administration Police Kinuthia Mbugua were among officials present at the forum, which has been funded by the British government.
Others include the Deputy Director of Police Reforms King’ori Mwangi, deputy AP Commandant Samuel Arachi, Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe and other senior officers from both the regular and Administration Police departments.
“Members of the public are not bothered with which uniform we are wearing, they are bothered about the kind of service we deliver to them. It is very evident we lack trust from our customers and unless we regain it, then it means the reform agenda will not succeed,” Mr Iteere warned.
AP Commandant Mr Mbugua on his part said there has been poor communication between instructors and trainees which, he said, contributes largely to the poor policing by police officers on the ground.
“There is a big disconnect in conduct and behaviour between the instructors and trainees in our training institutions,” he said and added that “We are now updating our training syllabus, but require good instructors to give out the contents.”
“The new syllabus has been completed and will be used for teaching recruits at Kenya Police College, Kiganjo, General Service Unit (GSU) training school and APTC,” Mr Naikuni said.
“Security does not involve the police alone, it involves all of us Kenyans,” he said. “We must change the tattered image and nobody is going to stop change because change is a must,” he stressed.
The government has announced plans to undertake a massive recruitment for both the regular and Administration Police.
Already, 38 Police Sergeants and Corporals are undergoing training at the APTC on how to carry out an integrated training exercise ahead of the recruitment exercise.
“Officers in the field should read the signs of the time and reform,” Mr Mbugua said and urged officers in both security outfits to embrace change.
The new Constitution calls for the establishment of a National Police Service which will be headed by an Inspector General [IG].
The IG who will be appointed from outside the police ranks will oversee operations of both the regular and Administration Police departments.