Why Kenya police reforms must go beyond change of uniform colours


Kenya Police Officers wear the newly proposed Kenya police uniforms at the Kenya Police Pavilion located in South C, Nairobi on August 29, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

As the Kenyan National Police Service (NPS) takes strides to phase out its existing police uniforms, the country anticipates a transformation that transcends mere cosmetic alterations.

While involving officers and the public in the uniform design review is a laudable step, it's paramount to underscore that redefining the police service necessitates a profound shift beyond aesthetics.

The forthcoming alteration of uniforms may contribute to a refreshed image, but it represents just a fraction of the multifaceted challenges that have persistently marred the public's perception of law enforcement in Kenya.

It is misguided to confine the police reform to the contours of uniform design. The Kenyan populace's perspective on the police is rooted in historical grievances that transcend mere clothing choices.

Changing the uniform's design in isolation won't resolve deep-seated issues like excessive use of force, corruption, a lack of accountability, and a growing disconnect between law enforcement and the community.

Sustainable reform requires an extensive approach that targets systemic changes, restoring public trust and confidence.

It's essential to also acknowledge the concerns raised by this uniform change. The decision comes at a time when the government is grappling with a cash crunch, resorting to tax hikes to bolster its revenue streams.

This raises questions about the necessity of such expenditures amidst pressing financial constraints. Moreover, the relatively swift uniform change following the previous administration's alteration raises concerns about potential identity recognition issues.

A rapidly changing uniform could lead to confusion among the public and further undermine the consistent image that law enforcement should project.

Therefore, while the uniform redesign is a step forward, its timing and potential financial implications warrant careful consideration in the broader context of Kenya's present challenges.

This evolution necessitates more than a surface-level uniform alteration. It calls for substantive investments in comprehensive training programs, foregrounding community engagement, ethical conduct, and de-escalation tactics.

Strengthening of Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) to bolster accountability and tame rogue officers.

Lastly, nurturing a culture of human rights respect, professionalism, and service within the police, bolstered by technology's integration for transparent and efficient service delivery, becomes pivotal for rebuilding public trust.

Only by addressing these intricate dimensions can the Kenyan Police Service genuinely recalibrate its rapport with the community, thereby amplifying its credibility and efficacy.

The writer is a Public Policy and Development Specialist. [email protected]

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.