The 60-year-old Administration Police (AP) security outfit manned by 60,000 officers might be no more as a major restructuring programme has been mooted to absorb a majority of them into the regular police.
Also likely to be affected in the razor-sharp proposed changes are the more than 100 Assistant Inspectors General (AIGs) of Police, who are likely to be reduced to a maximum of around 50 officers, with the rest being asked to either proceed on early retirement or be redeployed to various government agencies.
According to the National Police Service proposed structure,just about 10,000 will be retained under a new unit to guard border control points and government buildings across the country. The proposal was reinforced on Tuesday when President Uhuru Kenyatta gave Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet 30 days to come up with a framework and strategy with clear and practical recommendations that will improve efficiency and effectiveness in the police service.
Already, senior police officers have been brainstorming at a location in Karen, Nairobi to fine-tune the proposed restructuring aimed at not only boosting the morale of the officers and improving efficiency, but also address the thorny issue of rivalry among the various units within the service.
The plan will see some of the resources shared, depending on the nature of work and also to prevent duplication of duties should the proposals, being spearheaded by AP commandant Noor Gabow and his Regular Police counterpart Edward Mbugua, be accepted. It would also see the folding up of the AP. Other officers involved in the restructuring include the director of administration Silas McOpiyo and director of reforms Jasper Ombati.
A meeting yesterday resolved that, among other things, a physical head count of officers be conducted across the country to rid the service of ghost workers with a team of officers going to all stations to confirm whether the officers are at such stations according to the last nominal roll submitted to the headquarters.
So hot is the proposal to phase out the Administration Police that all senior officers at Vigilance House, including spokesman Charles Owino avoided commenting on it.
APs took over from the Tribal Police in 1958 which had been established through an ordinance in 1929. They were trained as a paramilitary security unit equipped to tackle any eventuality regarding breach of law or emergency and came in handy for President Moi to entrench power especially after the botched attempt to overthrow his government in 1982 (see separate story).
Currently, APs are scattered across the country, with majority still attached at Chiefs’, Sub County Commanders’ and County Commanders’ offices with no specific roles. While some of the junior officers are currently involved in the day to day regular police duties such as traffic and crime control, majority of them are used by the National Administration system among others to fight illicit brews.
Already, the new Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti has stopped the recruitment of APs into his unit and even recommend that those who had been absorbed there be returned to the mother unit. But the roles of senior AP officers from the ranks of Chief Inspectors to AIGs remain completely undefined, unless one is sent to an operation area.
Besides proposing to retrain the APs and have them absorbed into the regular police unit, the restructuring also envisages forming several directorates under the IG that would be responsible for overseeing the day to day operations in the regular, scaled back AP unit, Directorate of Criminal Investigations Unit (DCI) and the General Service Unit (GSU).
Apparently, all the three units, APs, Regular Police and DCI have autonomous directorates, leaving the IG without any direct involvement in their management.
“The proposals are aimed at doing away with this duplication of duties by establishing one command with several directorates to assist the IG in running the entire police service,” a senior police officer said yesterday.
The autonomous units will subsequently be manned by staffing officers who shall report directly to their respective directorates at the IG’s office.
All the staffing personnel will liaise with the Director of the Human Capital at the NPS headquarters in Jogoo House to look into transfers, promotions and training. The deployment will be based on officers training and experience.
Also likely to be done away with is the current system of the regional coordinators, which according to experts, is structured along the lines of the National Administration System which previously accommodated Provincial Commissioners, District Commissioners, District Officers and chiefs to cohere with devolved governance.
The new structure will therefore harmonise operations at the county and station levels, where proposals are being pushed to have one command system at every level. Currently in one county, there are three different commands—AP county commander, County Criminal Investigations officer (CCIO) and the County Commander, usually drawn from the regular police.
All the county commanders will work jointly. Already, the traffic department has been reorganized and put under the county commanders across the country, in a bid to stamp out corruption and enhance operations.
To ensure accountability, the service plans to strengthen the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) which has already acquired an office away from Jogoo House where the IG sits, contrary to police regulations.
President Uhuru Kenyatta also directed the Interior ministry of Interior to provide a comprehensive policy framework on how to address the persistent problem of police housing.
The developments are informed by reports and recommendations by committees and other bodies including the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) whose report for example, exposed deplorable conditions the officers lived in thus affecting their morale.
Another area of focus is the National Police Service Airwing. The unit now has a total of 11 aircraft with the ministry saying it is were keen on building the capacity of the NPS in line with modernisation drive. NPS Airwing director Rogers Mbithi yesterday said they were now focusing on continuous training of pilots and engineers.