Over 300 police officers whose fate was pending before the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) after vetting can now rest easy after their employer said they will not be subjected to any disciplinary action.
The NPSC Chairman, Eliud Kinuthia said the commission had resolved to disregard recommendations of its predecessor, Johnstone Kavuludi against the officers and that vetting of officers across all ranks had been temporarily suspended and would be reviewed to make it ‘more private’ and ‘less embarrassing’ to affected individuals.
The current commission which assumed office on March 18th this year, he said, had resolved that the pending verdicts against the officers if implemented would not be in the interest of the National Police Service and individual officers.
“We are going to give them a second opportunity. The recommendations made after their vetting as far as the new commission is concerned will be treated as null and void. We however, warn our officers to adhere to professional conduct and discipline, integrity, financial probity and respect for human rights,” stated the chairman.
To clean the service of rogue officers, vetting was introduced under the 2010 Constitution. Some of the officers have described it as unfair, with a few ending their lives.
Last year, the police employer sent home 50 senior officers for failing vetting.
Most of the affected officers were accused of corruption and abuse of human rights and were drawn from Kenya Police, Administration Police and Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
Some 127 traffic officers, out of the 904 vetted were dismissed, raising to 14 per cent, the number of officers found unsuitable, up from four per cent.
Some of the reasons for their removal included unexplained financial transactions, including sending and receiving money from fellow officers in the department, operating matatu businesses or receiving money from transporters and operators of towing services.
Kinuthia who spoke o Tuesday at the Nakuru Dog Section Police Unit after meeting senior commanders however clarified that the commission will not reinstate 443 police officers who were sent packing by the previous commission for failing vetting.
The NPSC boss who was accompanied by Deputy Inspector General of Police, Edward Mbugua and Noor Gabow, Commissioners, Eusebius Laibuta, Dr. Alice Otwala, Lillian Kiamba, John Tentemo Ole Moyaki, Joseph Onyango and Naphtaly Rono said once restructured vetting will be conducted in camera.
He said the new vetting structure brings on board the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (OPP), Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) and Attorney General.
“The offices will be tasked with furnishing the NPSC with any relevant information about a police officer touching on his misconduct. Aggrieved members of the public who submit information against police officers must ensure that it meets the minimum evidential thresholds.
We will no longer subject our officers to public ridicule by liberally accepting accusations without thoroughly probing their genuineness.
We will not parade our officers before the public and expose their private lives to unnecessary glares. The commission is setting internal structures that will be able to quietly access any information required for vetting,” said Kinuthia.
The Chairman announced that the commission had unveiled plans to promote officers across all ranks who had stagnated for over 10 years, noting that massive transfers are in the offing for police officers who had overstayed in same regions.
He also announced that more than 40,000 officers who joined the service after 2011 are not eligible for mandatory vetting unless need arises.
Other officers were dismissed because of professional misconduct. The applicable vetting standards include officers’ satisfaction of entry and training requirements.
Those removed had been accused of engaging in criminal activities, corruption, human trafficking, smuggling and submission of fake bank statements, unprofessional conduct and failure to provide documents or information required by the commission.
Since the commencement of the vetting of police officers in December 2013, different cohorts of officers comprising more than 15,000 have so far been vetted.
Vetting of police officers was among the more than 200 proposals of the commission set up following the 2007-2008-post election violence.
The overall goal of the National Task Force on Police Reforms headed by retired Judge Philip Ransley was to transform the police service into an efficient, effective, professional and accountable security agency that Kenyans would trust with their safety and security.
The need for police reform was reinforced by recommendations made by the Waki Commission of Inquiry into the 2007 Post-election Violence. This was after police were largely blamed for the violence the broke out after the disputed polls that claimed more than 1,000 lives.
The commission recommended urgent and comprehensive vetting to be undertaken by a panel of policing experts to ensure that the service had officers with required competence, skills and knowledge.
By Anne Mwale