NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – A six-year term for four commissioners of the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) that kicked off with uncertainty, death threats and eventually radical changes to the National Police Service came to an end Tuesday.
One of the low points was on August 30, 2013 when a human head was dumped in a box outside the NPSC offices.
Inside the box was a warning note to the outgoing Chairperson, Johnston Kavuludi. “Kavuludi, you are next…” it read.
Vetting which had sent shock waves among police officers of all ranks was going on at the time.
The vetting was meant to weed out rogue police officers from the ‘force’, which the Kavuludi team had been mandated to transform into a ‘service’.
The targeted lot was any officer found tainted with issues like corruption and extra-judicial killings that were rampant then, among other issues set in a tight threshold.
It is an incident that was recalled during Tuesday’s exit luncheon for the four commissioners, with Kavuludi saying “not even 20 human heads” would have stopped him from executing his mandate, as enshrined in the Constitution.
”As I said at that time, even if they were to bring 20 human heads, it would not have scared me from performing my duties as the Chairman of the National Police Service Commission; provided the heads came from a mortuary,” Kavuludi said, during a luncheon attended by senior police officers led by IG Joseph Boinnet and DCI George Kinoti among others.
During the six years, outgoing commissioner Ronald Musengi said: “it was not easy.”
Other than the human head incident, he cited logistical challenges at the beginning of the tenure and fears of reforming a dreaded force to a people-centred police service.
“One of the major things which we were supposed to do was police vetting that required confidence and dedication. Being an outsider, you were actually intruding in someone’s house,” he asserted.
“To vet police officers who are always carrying a firearm and you do not know what will happen to you… It was not all that easy.”
But amid the challenges, the commissioners say they have conquered and Kenya has a better police service.
“I have been very happy to serve as the Chairman of the National Police Service Commission. I am a proud outgoing chair,” Kavuludi said.
The Inspector General of Police saluted the outgoing commissioners saying under their watch, the police-service has developed several policy documents which include career provision guidelines and a housing policy that allow all officers of all ranks the right to choose where they want to reside, effective December 1, 2018.
“I want to assure everyone that we are on course in implementing the guidelines given by His Excellency the President on housing, command structure and reforms to ensure that we serve the people of this country,” the IG said.
Other than Kavuludi, the others commissioners are Musengi, Murshid Mohamed and Mary Auma Owuor.
The commission has been serving with only seven members, a shortfall of the required threshold of nine.
This was after the late Esther Chui was not replaced while Shadrack Muiu has since been incapacitated and was not attending commission meetings for over three years.
Since December 2013, the commission has vetted over 5,900 officers.
The Inspector General of Police, his two deputies and the Director of Criminal Investigations are fulltime commissioners.
It was a bumpy ride for the commissioners but they leave a vibrant police service that is more accountable, various stakeholders who spoke during the luncheon said.