GARISSA MASSACRE: WHY DO WE BLAME KENYA POLICE FOR THIS?

The deaths of 148 innocent university students cannot and shall not be a matter to be taken lightly and used to apportion blames left right and Centre. It is easily said than done though…for those directly affected; however much we try to pretend to understand what they are going through, the truth of the matter is we don’t! The media, in its characteristic style of setting the agenda, is awash with many so called security experts and analysts trying to put into perspective what might have happened and what we need to do going forward.
In today’s Saturday Nation pages 10 & 11(April 4, 2015) I have read a lengthy article by one Trevor Ngulya a security expert, by the title: “How Police can redeem tainted image” on the ails of the Kenya Police and what needs to be done to redeem it. In the article Trevor fishes around and identifies a litany of problems ailing the police and finally gives a number of steps that needs to be taken to revamp the police force to make it a better equipped force that can secure the country more and avoid tragedies like the Garissa one.
This article forms the basis of my arguments here but first I must declare that unlike Trevor, I am not a security expert and I don’t hold brief for the Kenya police. In the spirit of transparency though, I must admit that I have a brother, a cousin and many good friends working for the Kenya police service. I am just an ordinary Kenyan trying to ventilate on why, what, how…of the Garissa Massacre, like am sure everybody else is doing, whether they put it down like me or choose to keep it in their hearts.
Normally when incidences like these happen, normal people will seek to know what really happened and who is to blame? If the issue is a security one like this one, then the police and other security agencies are obviously in the mix. I am also tempted to blame the police and I would have justifications for it but I chose not… In fact I want to commend the security forces for the swift response even with all the challenges and the many fatalities reported. The cabinet secretary for Interior Maj. Gen. Joseph Nkaissery and the Inspector General of National Police service Joseph Boinet exhibited a good sense of control, mastery of crisis control and crisis management and communication. The two Josephs were calm and controlled and managed the media very well unlike in the Westgate fiasco where all manner of blunders upon blunders were witnessed.
Trevor Ngulya has spoken of one thing that is always in my heart every time issues of incompetence and corruption in the Kenya Police service are raised: Recruitment and training. Quite frankly, the rain begun beating us the moment we made police recruitment in Kenya an auction where the highest bidder (briber) got the slot…the same is true for all other security agencies( Kenya Defense Forces, Kenya Wildlife Services, Kenya Forest services, Kenya prison services to mention just but a few) for your information.
I have had the privilege of serving as a peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in Liberia alongside the Kenya Police and other police services from across the globe and I can tell you the Kenyan officers are as efficient as everyone else! One thing though that I found out is that in many other countries, recruitment into the police service is a serious process that nobody dares to be compromised to hire the wrong guys.
Training of our men in uniform is also another area that we must look into as a matter of urgency. I have spent at least two months in a police training facility undergoing a pseudo paramilitary training and I think the training is not bad at all. The instructors are well competent and qualified to do what they do. However, we need to revamp the training in the face of emerging global crimes like terrorism we are now witnessing. Developed countries we very much like to emulate and refer to as we castigate our own security agencies have highly specialized units that are well equipped for rapid response in any part of the country as they may be required. They are mostly referred to as SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) teams. People in these teams do not have four hands, four legs and two heads….they are just more trained and equipped to respond to situations than we have done in Kenya. Kenya has more than enough men and women already serving in our security forces capable of being in SWAT… if you doubt look at the famous Recce squad of the General Service Unit! My take is we need to use Recce as a model to set up SWAT teams that are then deployed around the country and can be scrambled to react to situations anywhere within their coverage in the shortest time possible.
Like I have argued before, the countries we look up to, like US, UK, France, Germany and Israel are not made up of super humans. NO! They only have superior strategies to deal will all manner of security threats. No country can pretend to be 100% safe from terrorism but the ability to counter terrorism with a combination of precise actionable intelligence, well trained and equipped SWAT teams and a public that is both vigilant and willing to cooperate with security forces to secure their country.
As a country, we must draw the line like President Kenyatta has done and decide that indeed security starts with all of us. I said it before and I wish to repeat it here for all and sundry: Change of guard at the helm of our security agencies is good in giving us a placebo to comfort us that we are now more secure than we were yesterday but the truth is that no one person can fix our security, it is a collective responsibility of all Kenyans and foreigners residing in our midst. Blaming the Kenya police may satisfy your desire to do so but will not make you safer!
Think about that!

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