, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – Fourteen police officers have been sacked or retired in the past two weeks after they failed an integrity test, in line with the ongoing police reforms.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told journalists on Wednesday that the sacking of the officers is part of his efforts to clean up the law enforcement agency which is ranked as the most corrupt department in Kenya and East Africa.
The police chief said the evaluation process launched last month is aimed at identifying and retaining suitable officers to be accommodated in the force.
“We will be asking individual [police] officers to show the suitability of their retention. It is a serious process and I urge officers to take it serious,” he said when he toured Embakasi, Kayole and Buru Buru police stations.
Mr Iteere was on a fact-finding mission to establish the strength of his officers on the ground, their capacity and living conditions.
“The process we are undertaking is aimed at addressing serious issues of corruption and inefficiency,” he added.
He did not however, reveal the names or ranks of those dismissed or retired.
The move appears to be part of the government’s effort to implement the Justice [rtd] Philip Ransley report on police reforms, which recommends that all officers of the rank of Assistant Commissioner of police and Administration Police and above be subjected to review using a criteria to be developed jointly by the Public Service Commission, Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) and the National Security Integrity Security [NSIS].
The officers are to be vetted to ensure they meet the required professional standards with a remarkable track record as well as an impressive academic background.
The Justice Ransley report recommended that senior police officers must be holders of university degrees.
Mr Iteere said he was keen to ensure “we do not have a rotten force… the few individuals denting the image of the force must be separated from us.”
“We want to have a police department that is responsive to the needs of the people and one which can match the current times,” he added.
Citing the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the new Constitution, the police chief said the need to evaluate the capacity of individual police officers is in line with the reform process and what is required of them under the new law.
“We will operate within the limits of the laws at all times that is why we want the right people for the job. The law and rights of the people must be respected at all times,” he said.
The police have often been accused of violating the law with impunity, through arbitrary arrests and detentions of suspects. Under the new Constitution, the chapter on the Bill of Rights demands that even the rights of suspects should be respected and such persons will be duly notified of the reason why they arrested.
On Wednesday, Mr Iteere told reporters that even as he struggles to redeem the dented image of his department, areas such as Eastlands part of Nairobi were recording remarkable results in the war on crime.
The area covering Buru Buru, Kariobangi, Kayole, Dandora and Umoja are known to be a haven for notorious gangs such as the Mungiki and others accused of masterminding armed robberies and kidnappings in most parts of the city.
“We have dismantled some of the gangs that were behind the violent crimes and extortion in the city. We intend to continue with the operations in accordance with the law,” Mr Iteere said.
He argued that the newly enacted Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, 2010 will help them address the menace of gangs like Mungiki, Sungusungu and others in parts of the country.
Mr Iteere announced that all inspectors will be trained on the new laws during weekends for them to train their juniors.
The law spells out tough measures that will deal with criminal gangs by imposing sentences of between 14 years and life behind bars.
It provides a harsh penalty for anyone who fundraises, organises or directs members of a criminal gang to commit a serious crime. Such persons shall, upon conviction, face life imprisonment.
A person who belongs or professes to belong to an organised criminal group shall upon conviction be fined Sh500,000 or face imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.