The Independent Policing Oversight Authority has identified mental fitness among key areas that the Government should include in the medical insurance cover for all police officers.
Moreover, the Authority – by law mandated to ensure that National Police Services strives for the highest possible standards of policing – wants officers determined to be in need for mental therapy be relieved of duties which would require them to carry lethal weapons.
This, is aimed at protecting other officers, “close family members and members of the public,” who may interact with a disturbed law enforcement officer.
These are among proposals that IPOA has put across to Police and Prison Reforms Taskforce, a presidential constituted team tasked with revamping the perennial operational gaps that have perennially beleaguered the officers tasked with policing as well as rehabilitation of convicts in Kenya.
IPOA Board, led by Chairperson Anne Makori, made the presentations to the taskforce yesterday, February March 1, 2023.
If adopted, the proposals would propel police reforms to greater heights.
The recommendations in general, centre around two major areas: Improving the welfare of members of the National Police Service, and improving the technical operations and enhancing the operational capacity of the NPS.
“IPOA recommends the improvement of the health of NPS Officers. We propose that the Police Medical Insurance Scheme covers mental health and rehabilitation and we would also propose the establishment of a welfare or benevolent fund managed by NPS,” Mrs Makori said during the presentation at the Bomas of Kenya.
To avert risks to fellow officers, close family members and members of the public, IPOA proposed that firearm handling by officers certified as mentally ill be controlled.
The Authority also wants the Ministry of Health to integrate medical services in designated police stations for basic care where applicable.
The IPOA team was led by Chairperson Anne Makori who was accompanied by the Vice Chairperson Dr. Jonathan Lodompui, Commissioners Dr. Praxedes Tororey, Dr. Owen Ogony and Fatuma Mohammed. Leading the Secretariat is CEO Elema Halake.
On Salary, allowances and Compensation, recommended that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, SRC should review the salary structure of the National Police Service, NPS.
The Authority recommended that NPS should make timely payments of all allowances, introduce payment of extraneous allowances, reimburse transfer allowances on time, and accord officers ample time to report to their new stations.
IPOA also recommended the development of a robust Legal and Administrative Framework to ensure that all members of the NPS are adequately covered and compensated in the event of death or injury in the line of duty, or terminal illness including mental health illness.
It also recommended the development of a legal framework for the compensation of police officers’ dependents and the recruitment of qualified family members of officers who die in the line of duty. These recommendations were made before the Police and Prison Reforms Taskforce Kenya.
“Provide adequate resources; computers, internet, printers, stationery, uniforms, protective gear, police registers (OB, Cell, Exhibit, Patrol, etc.) to stations, camps and posts; Vehicles and fuel allocation,” Mr Makori proposed, adding that the NPS leadership should facilitate timely AIE disbursements for administrative and operational purpose.
She also proposed the devolution of the Internal Affairs Unit of the National Police Service, NPS services to grassroots and that the Director of the IAU be made an AIE holder to enable financial autonomy and enhance logistical operations.
On police housing, IPOA proposed that the NPS should facilitate customized mortgage facilities for police officers and embrace a hybrid system of housing police officers including construction of housing units within police premises and provision of house allowances. While police officers in field camps should be facilitated with quality tents and uni-huts putting into consideration the harsh weather conditions.
Other recommendations made by the authority, under the Improving the welfare of members of the NPS include improving officers’ working conditions and enhanced training on public order management, residential coexistence between police and public, trauma resilience and human rights-based policing among others.
The Authority also gave recommendations on recruitment of police officers, career progression, exit and post exit management and gender mainstreaming.
On improving the technical operations and enhancing the operational capacity of the NPS, IPOA recommended the return of the 44 boats from the Kenya Coast Guard Services to the NPS, availing of serviceable Armored Personnel Carriers and redesigning of all Troop-Carrying Vehicles to ease disembarking.
Other recommendations touched on logistical and ICT Capacity, NPS Facilities Management, Operational Structure and Procedures, Community Policing, Formation of specialized units and Forensic laboratory independence.