, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 31 – Senior Police officers are already being vetted in line with the recommendations of a task force that called for reforms in the country\’s security agencies.
Those being vetted are gazetted officers who hold the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police [SSP] and above and the process is meant to identify suitable ones who qualify to continue serving in the soon-to-be constituted Police Service.
A senior police officer at Police headquarters told Capital News that all police officers to be vetted would be given questionnaires by the Public Service Commission which will be used in the vetting process.
"Those in Nairobi have already received the forms but those upcountry are yet to get them. But they are all here, they should be getting to their destinations by tomorrow [Monday]," the officer said.
Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe confirmed the process was on-going but did not provide more details, only saying "it is part of the reforms."
The vetting is specifically targeting SSPs, Assistant Commissioners of Police [ACPs] and Deputy Commissioners of Police [DCPs].
It is being carried out in both the regular and Administration Police as recommended by the Justice Philip Ransley-led commission which is guiding the reform process.
The team calls for a total overhaul of the top police management by thoroughly vetting officers holding higher ranks.
The recommendation to vet the senior police officers arose after the commission noted that most police officers were promoted through patronage and corruption.
Proper administrative procedures were not followed in promoting most of the senior officers, hence the need for a thorough vetting, the report notes in part.
In the on-going vetting process, most police officers are likely to be either demoted or retired earlier than expected if found unsuitable to hold the positions they are holding.
There are also those who may end up being promoted if found to be qualified to hold higher posts than they currently do as recommended in the report whose contents the government pledged to implement in full.
The Ransley report recommended among other issues, a proper review of police remuneration and establishment of adequate modern housing facilities for officers in both the regular and Administration Police departments.
Mr Titus Naikuni, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Airways is heading a team picked up by the government to implement the police reforms.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti recently said he plans to table five key legislations in Parliament to enable the ministry fast track reforms in the security sector.
"There will be a lot of reasons why Kenyans need to be happy because we have a new constitution in place, there will be much more benefits to reap because of the ongoing reforms," Prof Saitoti said.
He named the Independent Police Oversight Bill, Police Reforms Bill, National Coroners Service Bill, Police Service Commission Bill and the Private Security Providers Bill as the most crucial legislations he has lined up for tabling in the House.
The Bills, he said, will revolutionalise both the Kenya police and Administration police as proposed in the new constitution.
"I intend to move with speed and table the appropriate bills in respect to the
National Police Service and National Police Service Commission to among others sure that officers\’ welfare and standards of conduct are looked after," he said.
President Mwai Kibaki has pledged to ensure the entire report of the task force is implemented fully at a cost of Sh8.1 billion.
Already some of the reforms recommended in the report are being enforced, including the increase of police salaries and allowances which was paid out to the security agencies in their last month\’s pay.
Among other things, the task force recommended that the government establishes an independent oversight authority which will oversee activities of the security agencies in the country.
Currently, there is no oversight body for the police apart from an internal complaints desk based at police headquarters which the taskforce members felt cannot work independently because it investigates ills committed fellow police officers.
The Internal Security Minister is now convinced that things will change once he tables the legislation that seeks to establish the oversight authority because it will monitor the professionalism, effectiveness and efficiency of the police besides promoting the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people.
The new constitution calls for the establishment of a new structure for the police force which will acquire a new name – the Police Service.
It will be headed by an Inspector General (IG) of the Kenya Police Service and Commandant General of Administration Police Service (CG).
There will be a Deputy Inspector General and assistants for the General Service Unit (GSU), Operations and Directorate of Criminal Investigations Department
There will also be Provincial Police Commissioners (PPCs) who will report to the IG among other changes