December 18th 2017

Top Stories / National

Mandera attack calls for devolution of some Police Service functions

This latest attack coming in wake of the Kerio Valley killings demands that national government discard outdated security and policing models. County based policing and law enforcement system is needed that effectively addresses local security challenges informed by local dynamics and conditions.

By Ndung'u WainainaTuesday, 25 Oct 2016 16:55 EAT

The Chief of Staff at Police Headquarters Mr Simon Kiragu speaks to journalists during a past demonstration. Some police service functions should be devolved to increase their effectiveness. (Photo: Oscar Ndunda/Kenya Free Press).

The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) strongly condemn the brutal killings of 12 innocent Kenyans by Somalia Al Shabaab militant gunmen in Mandera this morning. Such barbaric violence has no justification and no place in modern society. This horrifying bloodletting in Kenya clearly provides indisputable reason why a continued policy of Nairobi-controlled National Police Service is terribly irrelevant in modern day Kenya.

This latest attack coming in wake of the killing fields of the Kerio valley demand that the national government discard outdated security and policing models. ICPC is demanding strengthening of County-based policing and law enforcement system to effectively address local security challenges informed by local dynamics and conditions.

People have legitimate expectations that the democratically elected county governments  guarantee their safety and secure environment for conduct of economic activities peacefully. Constitution of Kenya 2010 is clear on how a function can be transferred, partially or wholly, from one level of government to the other. While national security is subject to the Constitution and Parliament, and is function of the National Government, the country cannot feign ignorance of reality on the ground.

International Center for Policy and Conflict calls for creation of devolved County Police Service in order to effectively take early action to prevent and reduce crime at local level, enhance local capabilities, resilience of police, and achieve value for money without losing agility when fighting crime. This is in full recognition that nature of crime has changed drastically, patterns of crime vary across the country with different counties facing different security challenges, and signals moving towards integration between police and other public service providers.

‘One size fits all’ policing and law enforcement model approach controlled from Nairobi is colonial, archaic and does not allow room to respond to different security challenges and meet local needs. Just as in colonial times, the police have been reduced into a symbol of political power and an instrument of oppression rather than an independent institution with a distinct professional role. A clear illustration of this is the widespread use of police officers for the protection and escorting of political notables and for largely ceremonial guard duties.

Throughout history there are times of challenge and defining moments. This is such a time for Kenya. Localized policing and law enforcement is the bedrock of successful policing. To serve and protect communities effectively, any policing framework should support the flow of information and intelligence supported by effective tasking and coordinating arrangements to make the connection between communities, cross-police units, national and the international more efficient and smooth.

Devolving certain police service functions ensures local frontline services are accessible to communities throughout focusing on problem solving and getting communities involved in supporting local crime investigations. Further frontline services are provided collaboratively with other local public services involved in community safety, working to a common set of outcomes as part of partnership arrangements.

These arrangements should include the ability to share and prioritize time, money and people to achieve effective local outcomes Kenya does not need constitutional amendment to actualize community oriented policing service ( not community policing). The National Government and Council of Governors should trigger Articles 183, 187 and 189 (Transfer of functions and powers between levels of governments) of the Constitution to create properly structured and coordinated framework between County Governments and National Police Service to address security and policing concerns at County level.

County Policing and Security Authority should be fully operationalized and strengthened under Chair of County Governor. The Authority will review county related security issues prioritized by National Security Council and incorporate local public security concerns to make its decisions. This will create enabling mechanisms for close cooperation, coordination and consultation between the National Police Service and County Government with the objective of maximizing the available limited resources for efficiency and impact of security services delivery.

The writer is the Executive Director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC).

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