BY SAM ALFAN. EDITED BY THOMAS Kariuki.
From a police force to a police service; this is the tough journey Kenyans have had to endure in the hands of our police.
But it is now paying off. The police service is taking shape.
Since independence and seen as a norm, Kenya has been in the dark over various matters under investigation by the Kenya Police Force before it was rebranded under the 2010 constitution to Kenya Police Service.
Rarely did the police force issue a statement to inform the public of pending arrests or update on the progress of investigations unless the matter was involving the ‘who is who’ in Kenya.
There has been a drastic change however.
With the appointment of new sheriffs at the helm of criminal investigation, the prosecution and the anti-graft agency working like identical triplets, change in the investigation realm is in the offing.
The Director of Criminal Investigations, George Kinoti’s move to change the narrative of deep secrecy on investigations where public remains in darkness until the accused persons are arraigned in court has received both praises and criticism mostly by politicians and their supporters who feel they or their associates are targeted by the DCI.
The days when investigations were muted, kept as deep secret and used to be known as police parlance SecPol. i.e secret police on literary all communications are now behind.
Public and the media used to condemn police for never giving any information and bits of information were revealed when the accused was arraigned in court and to top it up the charge sheet bore very little information.
This led to speculation and wild imagination by both public and media because of scanty information. The accused and defense had a field day driving the narrative in their own unfettered style and design painting their clients victims of torture, brutality, persecution and malicious arrest with no evidence.
While today police has changed the scenario as is practiced internationally by all police services or forces.
Article 35 of the constitution state that, Every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State and information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. It further adds that every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person and the State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.
The police are now obligated to update, inform, educate, sensitize the public through available channels one of them being the media.
However, nothing in Kenya goes unnoticed and is often christened as targeting a certain person, group of people and or a certain community.
In giving information to the public, the DCI has been highly critised by some political quarters claiming he is being used to undermine public officers and their office, a narrative that he has continually dismissed.
He has been accused of prosecuting matters through the media despite the public having a right to know what is going on and progress made by police to unravel crimes committed against them.
Since he took over as the Director of Criminal Investigations, Kinoti has made the Directorate of Criminal investigations to be known and even it presence felt online with daily updates over various arrest made by the sleuth something which never happened before.
In every police training worldwide, the first and cardinal obligation for qualification to be appointed a commander in the police department is public speaking and how to communicate with the media.
But currently in Kenya a country where police were known of hiding information from the public, the sleuths are on the receiving end and being condemned of drama and prosecuting in media.
Investigators believes that by updating and giving the truth of the investigations process reduces the cry of false malicious arrest and less sympathy from the public because the public truly knows why one was arrested and why one is in court.
Questions beg, why should one feel aggrieved of facts which will be used in open court; what is the difference between those facts told during the briefing and during open court proceedings and; why don’t they want the public to know or media?
They can only challenge the facts in court! and that is why we have prosecution and defense to counter each allegations or prove them before the court of law.
The old culture of police secrecy had served the interests of many very well and reason they had it easy driving their defense and corrupting cases at will. At least today even if a case is delayed, corrupted or interfered with, the public have a reference of facts told during the briefs and can make their own conclusions and no more total ignorance of what could have happened.
The truth will triumph and will set everybody free. Police everywhere in the world have embraced social media to update and educate the society about most of their daily activities.
Like in the United State of America, security agencies including the military, C. I. A and the Federal Bureau of Investigation among others have Twitter accounts where they keep updating the public. It is our hope attacks won’t stop or discourage DCI Kinoti from sharing and information the public about the progress his officers are making in the fight against corruption among others.