The Standard – IPOA lauds police officers for professional conduct before and after elections

Unlike previous elections, police officers have been lauded for conducting themselves professionally during the just concluded polls.

Apart from isolated incidence of misconduct, Independent Oversight Policing Authority (Ipoa) says the National Police Service (NPS) was well prepared for the elections.

In a comparative analysis of police conduct during the 2017 and 2022 elections, Ipoa notes the there was an improvement on operational planning and preparations, and that officers were adequately trained on the Election Security Arrangement Programme.

“Improving from the 2017 election cycle, the National Police Service employed upgraded strategies on intelligence gathering on criminal gangs and developed elaborate hotspot areas,” states Ipoa in its preliminary report signed the chairperson, Anne Makori.

Save for Lamu, the authority deployed primary and secondary monitors in the rest of the 46 counties where observers either conducted interviews, made observations or took photographs during the assessment between August 7 and 12.

The overall objective of the monitoring exercise was to ensure police officers complied with constitutional standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as conducting themselves lawfully and professionally.

“The monitoring exercise revealed that the National Police Service were better organised and prepared towards management of polling security. This is highly commended and encouraged as this are milestone achievements towards police reforms,” says the authority.

Other than acting professionally, Ipoa noted that officers were provided with transport, and that they were well briefed by their commanders prior to deployment.

However, the authority was concerned that officers in most polling stations were provided with milk, soda and bread instead of hot meals, and that the officers were yet to receive their allowances by the time the report was released.

Other shortcomings cited include officers working for more than 48 hours resulting into fatigue, some commanders being un-co-operative and a section of officers in charge of security at the polling stations refusing to display their names and service numbers as required by law.

Amnesty International Kenya has also commended the police and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for the high level of preparedness, which the organisation attributed to collaboration with local and international observers.

“While Ipoa are investigating seven cases of suspected unlawful police violence, we have no less than 50 examples of joint preventative violence initiatives before and after the announcement of results. This collaborative approach must continue,” said Irungu Houghton, director, Amnesty International.

Ipoa is investigating six election misconduct by officers. One of the matter under probe is the alleged assault of Goricha Jarso Abarabo and six others by police officers providing security at Garsen High School Constituency Tallying Centre within Garsen Township, Tana River County on August 11.