The Star (Nairobi)

17 November 2012

Kenya: Police Need to Be Better Equipped

editorial

Nothing this shocking has happened in a long time. This week, Kenyans were treated to the gut-wrenching news of a massacre that claimed the lives of more than 40 police officers and reservists in Baragoi area of Samburu county.

The police officers and reservists were on a mission to recover over 400 hundred head of cattle stolen by Turkana rustlers when they met their untimely death.

Most of the officers that were killed are said to have been in their early and mid 20s. Some had not even earned their first salary after graduating from Kiganjo Police Training College.

The reason why the relevant authorities deemed it prudent to deploy inexperienced officers to such a notoriously dangerous area remains unclear to many Kenyans.

This is not the first time dedicated police officers have lost their lives in line of duty. Yet despite many such occurrences the government seems not to have learned its lesson.

Although charged with the vitally important but inherently hazardous responsibility of securing the lives of Kenyans and their property from criminal elements, our police force remains poorly equipped.

As a matter of fact some of the criminals the police officers are expected to engage have far much better weapons. In such a case it is being unrealistic to expect the police to reign in such criminal elements.

At the same time the police, despite putting their lives on the line, still take home a pittance at the end of the month making matters worse for them and their families.

As the bodies of the slain officers arrived at Wilson airport and Chiromo Mortuary one could not help but feel sympathy for the bereaved families.

The sight of siblings, young widows, parents and other relations of the killed officers weeping uncontrollably was heart-wrenching indeed.

Even though the government has sent the military to go and disarm rustlers in Baragoi area, more needs to be done to better the lot of the police.

Equipping the police with sophisticated weapons and other facilities should be top on the government's agenda. They should also be well remunerated. No one is safe until the police are safe.

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