Prioritise mental health of officers
Thursday, April 8th, 2021
Hudson Wakise walked into his wife’s house at night when she was having supper.
A brief altercation ensued and he pumped eight bullets into her body, killing her instantly. He then turned the gun on himself and took his own life.
Not even the thought of leaving his two children as orphans could deter him from the heinous act.
It could have been avoided, but it wasn’t. Wakise’s case is not unique. Instances of officers venting on their loved ones or their colleagues have become all too common, a pointer to mental health issues in the disciplined force that have not been addressed.
Wakise was a bodyguard at the Ministry of Interior and his boss, CS Fred Matiang’i, who is responsible for the force, acknowledged that they have dropped the guard on mental wellness in the police service.
On March 10, 2020, the National Police Service launched a programme dubbed Mwamko Mpya-Healing the Uniform.
It was supposed to address issues of stress and trauma and psychological wellbeing in the police force.
It cannot be gainsaid that officers encounter extreme situations in the course of their duty.
According to a Kenyatta University Research Study (2012) “the work of a police officer is often exhausting, dangerous, and even traumatic.
It further states that police are generally at the receiving end of all community problems.
They are expected to maintain law and order in difficult situations besides putting their lives at risk as soon as they leave home everyday.”
Police officers are also often in touch with extremely painful issues in the community.
hey are expected to deal with such incidents as child abuse, wife battery and rape, all of which cause deep anguish to those involved.
Equally, they are the ones called out to scenes of murder and serious assault.
Being witness to these horrific circumstances is incredibly stressful and can at times lead to feelings of depression and disillusionment.
It is important to note that reactions after witnessing violent acts such as brutal murders especially for those who first visit the crime scene are more complicated and intense.
Under such circumstances any human being would break down and experience some level of stress or in extreme cases depression. For this reason, the programme should be reactivated since the problem is exacerbating.
Psychological wellness of officers should be taken with utmost importance. A depressed armed officer is a danger to everyone.