Public, officers differ on future police chief

April 18, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 18 – Police and members of the public on Monday differed over the criteria for picking the Inspector General of Police and his deputy at a forum organised by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution.

Members of the public insisted that the police boss should be recruited through a competitive process that is open to the public with a university degree as the minimum academic qualification.

Other speakers at the forum, however, felt that the police chief should be drawn from the defence forces in order to inculcate some discipline in the police.

Kenya Human Rights Commission Deputy Executive Director Tom Kagwe kicked off the debate, when he claimed that retaining the seat strictly within police circles was political.

Mr Kagwe said;" He must have some element of criminology, he must have integrity and these are some of the things we are looking for in the force, so for someone to claim that the Inspector General must come from the force, hell no!"

Some expressed the view that the holder of the position – who will head both the Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police Service – should posses a PhD in Law and Public Administration saying this will improve how the police relate with the citizens.

However, Deputy Police spokesman Charles Wahong\’o and Assistant Commissioner of Police Augustine Kimantiria came to the defence of the force explaining such a move will affect the morale of police officers.

"It would be sad for the officers who have survived tough (police) conditions and when a time comes for an appointment of an Inspector General with good terms of service then you are told you cannot qualify for the position. For our morale to be maintained we must get a boss who is from it the service," Mr Wahong\’o said.

"Next year we are going to be faced with an election period, it is going to be a tough time; when we are going to have an experiment for an Inspector General," said the Deputy Police Spokesman.

Mr Kimantiria cited the late James Kanyotu, who headed the now defunct Special Branch, as an example of high-ranking officers who blended academic qualifications and practical police work to rise through the ranks.

The spymaster had a degree in criminology.

"We have all what it takes, the inspector general is not just a CEO, his constitutional mandate is to give order to command a national police service, and you need to be hands-on. How do you become a commander of what you don\’t know? " he posed.

The officers used the forum to also recommend changes in their working conditions as a way of improving their welfare.

At the same time, the police and the public called for better remuneration and equipping of police, as a way of improving the morale of the officers.

Administration Police officers urged the commission to ensure that their mandate is clearly defined.

They cited the areas of border control which was also a function of the defence forces. The officers said that the AP should also be given the capacity to investigate crimes apart from their roles of preventing crimes and maintaining law and order.

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