A Memorandum to the Taskforce on Police and Prison Officers’ Welfare in Nakuru and Baringo
Calvin Muga, Program Officer at Midrift Hurinet making a presentation to the task force on the issues the task force needs to consider to improve the welfare of the police and prison officers (on 17th Feb 2023 at the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner’s Boardroom in Nakuru)
Midrift Hurinet as an organization working on peace and security does not underestimate the role of police officers in ensuring peace, security, and law & order in the community. To operate optimally, police officers require a conducive environment to effectively deliver services to the public. Their effective service delivery has however been affected by a myriad of challenges.
Midrift thus submitted to the task force on police and prison officers’ welfare, a memorandum that highlighted some of the challenges and possible recommendations that will go a long way towards motivating the officers in Nakuru and Baringo counties.
Midrift highlighted the following issues with recommendations
Police Remuneration (Salaries and Allowances)– Midrift Hurinet having engaged police officers in most of its programs realized that the officer’s low salaries and allowance vis-à-vis the work they are expected to do are a de-motivation to the officers. Therefore, it was recommended that a better salary including allowances will go a long way in motivating these officers. This would also reduce by a bigger percentage the level of corruption which has been experienced in the service.
Psychosocial Support– Due to the nature of the work police officers do, coupled with family challenges, they are more vulnerable to mental health disorders than the general population. In light of this, the national government decided to deploy mental health practitioners to the counties to assist the officers in dealing with mental health challenges. Nakuru already has two psychologists deployed from the National level, nevertheless, it is critical to note that the two psychologists do not have an office and, more significantly, are not fully equipped to carry out their work efficiently. It is therefore recommended that adequate resources should be allocated to the psychologists such as acquiring appropriate offices where they can meet and interact with the officers.
Tools, Equipment, and Infrastructures– The infrastructure in some police stations and police posts are in disrepair while other stations lack vehicles that can aid with swift responses (you find that an entire sub-county has only one police vehicle and when it breaks down, service delivery is completely paralyzed). Additionally, some officers respond to crime scenes or distress calls without any protective gear and worn-out uniforms. There is a need to upgrade all the police stations and posts across the county, and also to ensure that the stations have at least three cars to help in service delivery and that if one breaks down, there is no paralysis. it was also recommended that the officers be provided with body armor when responding to criminal activities, as well as uniforms and boots regularly.
The antagonistic relationship between officers and members of the public- The relationship between police officers and the public is very critical in preserving peace and security; consequently, any dispute between the two results in casualties (injury and even death) for both officers and members of the public. A directive was given for police officers to reside outside of police lines as a measure to enhance community-police relations was issued. This was however not followed by the granting of enough home allowances to allow them to rent or purchase good housing.
To strengthen police-community relations, there is a need for proper resourcing of committed officers from the IG’s office to the police station/post level by delegating the Directorate of Community Policing. The cops should be given enough housing allowances so that they may live comfortably. A positive connection will promote and strengthen collaboration and cooperation between police and members of the public, which will increase public reporting of cases.
Social Fabric with family members- Family is key even for police officers. Constant relocation and transfer of police officers cause them to lose touch with their spouses and children as they cannot be moving with their families in every transfer. Officers also lack sufficient time off and leave days to spend with their families (an officer is allowed three days off, and takes two days to travel to and from leaving them with only one day to spend with the family), which is emotionally torturous.
To address this, police transfers should be considerate and fair. They should also be allowed ample time off and leave days to spend quality time with their families, taking into account their location during the vacation days. The employer should therefore adequately provide enough days to offer officers adequate time to spend with their families.
Personal and Institutional Development of Officers – Personal and institutional development by employers to employees is critical for both organizational and individual growth. To continue performing their duties efficiently, police officers must acquire new knowledge regularly, which includes training on a variety of subjects. Police officers need ongoing training on a variety of subjects that will help not just them individually but also the community they serve, such as sexual and gender-based violence. There is also a need for police stations to have specialized facilities (offices) staffed by qualified officers to handle special cases.
It is in our view, having worked closely with police officers, that addressing the aforementioned challenges will get us closer to enhancing police welfare and service delivery in fulfillment of their mandate.