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Honour 'Utumishi Kwa Wote' ahead of the 2022 elections [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]

Could we perhaps see the lost trust between police and civilians resolved ahead of the elections?

Officers competing during the 10th Edition of the National Police Service Athletic Track and Field Championships for the year 2022 in April

The police service motto reads: 'Utumishi Kwa Wote', when translated to English this means 'Service to All.'

Service to all means disregarding where people come from, their tribe, their age, gender and even their religious and political affiliations. We need to see more service and less brutality.

Police brutality is nothing new, nor is it something that happens only in Kenya. Jurisdictions world over face challenges of cold relationships between their police and civilians. It is the use of excessive force when dealing with civilians which may entail physical or verbal assault, intimidation, or sexual abuse.

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As early as the Colonial Era, the police had a cold relationship which one could only say got worse as time went by. Under the post-independence KANU rule, civilians lost trust in those who were supposed to protect their lives and property. After the 2007-2008 post-poll skirmishes, months before and after elections that have followed have seen tense relations between the police and civilians.

Reports indicate that the post-election violence of 2007 saw 1,133 deaths, 405 of which were caused directly or indirectly by police. Only 33 deaths were reported to have been caused by police with some of the deceased being children.

The Covid-19 pandemic catalysed and worsened the situation as police were accused of using extreme force in enforcing safety protocols and night curfew. It is also reported that extrajudicial killings increased during the period.

The promulgation of the 2010 constitution saw police reforms that were aimed at strengthening the relations between the police and the civilians. However, the police service is still largely politicized and corruption-ridden.

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Human rights groups have not been spared, their efforts to speak out on police brutality have been met by the same brutality.

The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) has been on the frontline to help streamline the police service by pointing out the rotten apples in the service and the Inspector-General of police, Hillary Mutyambai has been engaging with civilians on Twitter in a campaign dubbed #EngagetheIG.

More of these responsive efforts could perhaps see the lost trust regained ahead of the elections.

IPOA should also beef up its efforts in bringing to book officers who have been involved in acts that may tarnish the image of the police service, occasional suspensions and inconclusive investigations are not enough.

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The elite political class should cease using the police as machinery to fulfill their political agenda.

The Judiciary should also impose heavy sentences to guilty officers who have been proved to be causing the rot in the service so that they are a lesson to other officers and above all the citizens should follow and uphold the rule of law.

While things may seem thick, it is not too late to mend the breaking ties between the police and the common mwananchi.

The government should be working to ensure that no children will be lost again by a police trigger and no more lives are lost in the name of enforcing Covid-19 containment measures.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Pulse as its publisher.

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