IG Koome talks tough on police extortion

Monday, November 14th, 2022 04:41 | By
IG Koome talks tough on police extortion
New Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome. PHOTO/Courtesy

Corruption, especially at roadblocks across the country, is rampant, the new Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome has warned.

As a result, the police boss yesterday ordered that all officers deployed to such road checks must wear service numerals and name tags.

To tame the vice, police commanders have been directed to continue enhancing their supervisory roles and encourage officers to be professional while on duty.

“All those on road checks must have service numerals and name tags. Officers themselves are unhappy with the corruption taking place at road checks,” he said adding that he was confident the commanders will act to address the menace.

The police boss, who has been in the service for almost 30 years, made the remarks just two days after taking over as the IG, becoming the fourth commander of the service. The service has, for several years, been accused of extra-judicial killings and corruption, among other vices

Koome, who was until his appointment as the IG was the commandant of NPS Training College in Kiganjo, has however pledged to deal with the vices and said he will liaise with the police oversight bodies to deal with the few rogue officers.

He had been a principal assistant to the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Kenya police and therefore he understands the operations of the police well.

Police officers have in the past been warned against erecting roadblocks anywhere without official approval. They were told no vehicle should be detained on the road for long hours without explanation.

Approved roadblocks

Officials say there is the continued erection of roadblocks on the highways without approval despite an earlier directive to the contrary. Most of these barriers have been used to extort bribes and not the intended crime detection and prevention.

Every commander was ordered to ensure no roadblocks, static traffic checks, detaining vehicles along the road for long hours and not taking bribes from motorists within their jurisdictions.

The commanders were told to ensure close and maximum supervision on traffic management and the concerned base commanders.

An earlier directive said any approved roadblock must be staffed by a multi-agency team and have an approved purpose, not personal enrichment. This, according to the police commanders, has been to discourage cases of collusion.

This followed public complaints that the barriers are still being erected despite an earlier order to remove them.

Many motorists, however, complained they were being harassed and extorted. There have been viral videos online showing police officers taking bribes at the roadblocks.

“Checkpoints and roadblocks on highways are only to be mounted with the express authority of regional-formation commanders and must be justified and rationalised,” Deputy Inspector General of Kenya Police Edward Mbugua said in an earlier directive.

Along the major Nairobi-Garissa highway and the Nairobi-Marsabit Road, for example, there are permanent roadblocks to deal with human and drug trafficking. The said barriers are manned by a multi-agency team of officers drawn from the police, DCI, Kenya Revenue Authority, Immigration and even the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

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