Kenya: NPSC Should Not Vet Officers As It Does Not Understand Police Work, Says CS Nkaissery

The opposition by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery on the way police vetting is conducted has once again stirred debate on the key pillar of police reforms.

Major Gen (Rtd) Nkaissery Saturday maintained that the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) does not understand police work and should therefore not vet officers.

He, however, told the Nation he was not opposed to the police vetting but only wanted it ensure it is not “used to victimise officers but should be done with an intention to professionalise the service.”

“The CS’s position has been that most of the people involved in the vetting do not understand or appreciate police work.

“His view is that the composition of those who vet the police should be by people who understand the difficult circumstances [in which] the police operate,” his office responded to questions by Nation.

He added that “NPSC as it is today has not fully appreciated” the work conditions of the police, even as he was quick to deny that he was seeking the disbandment of the commission.

“You cannot reconstitute it until its mandate is over.

“NPSC is a constitutional body and can only be removed through constitutional means.

“The CS is only expressing frustration about the perception being created about our officers in the course of the vetting,” Mr Nkaissery said.

CHANGE OF HEART

He added that his position is not in any way to criticise anybody or abet corruption.

The CS’s stand has, however, left some security sector players questioning his and the Executive’s sudden change of heart on police vetting.

According to the chairman of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Macharia Njeru, the starting point should be to appreciate that police vetting is a requirement in law.

“It is not like NPSC has an option and it does not matter whether the CS is happy or not,” he said.

His sentiments are shared by a former police vetting panellist Simiyu Werunga who said the CS was grossly mistaken to question the suitability and qualifications of the Johnston Kavuludi commission.

“NPSC was established under certain criteria and qualifications. Nobody was employed in the NPSC without meeting the [required] qualifications.

“They went through public scrutiny and vetting and NPSC has not had new commissioners since,” said Mr Werunga.

POLITICAL INTERFERENCE

Mr Werunga said the Executive and political forces are the ones who have been interfering with the vetting.

“Once people realised how thorough the exercise was there was immense society, executive and political influence.

“That is the reason Kenyans feel that police vetting has not delivered the intended results in professionalising the police service.

“That is, however, not to say the commissioners are not qualified.

“And for the CS to insinuate that they don’t understand the workings of the police is something I don’t agree with,” said Mr Werunga.

According to Mr Werunga, police vetting was to achieve two key outcomes: suitability and competence of the officers to continue serving in the NPS.

Source: The Nation