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Protector or tormentor? Police on the spot

Nairobi City residents have in the past few weeks been complaining about increased cases of police harassment.

Last week, residents of Eastleigh, Shauri Moyo, Umoja, and Donholm took to social media to complain about arbitrary arrests by police officers operating in those areas.

Opinion was sharply divided among Kenyans on whether these random stop and search missions by the police were worth it or if it was just a ploy to profile, harass and extort money from the public.

Officers from Kamukunji, Pangani and Shauri Moyo police stations and officers operating within Eastleigh were the most affected.

It was claimed that the arbitrary arrests and random searches targeted non – locals like Somalis living the city, South Sudanese nationals, Nigerians and Congolese on the streets of the CBD more.

ACCUSATIONS

National Police Service spokesman George Kinoti however refuted the the accusations.

“It is true that we have had a lot of police activity on the streets lately. This is because we have intensified regular police operations in certain parts of Nairobi due to intelligence regarding increased crime in those areas or increased suspicious activity.” He said adding that controlled police activity goes on in the country all the time.

On the matter of profiling he denied the allegations made by various sections of Nairobi residents to the effect that the police go out looking for people with specific characteristics or foreigners.

“What we do are random stop and identification operations. We don’t profile. Unless it is specific intelligence that leads us to a household or compound. The police are trained to pick out suspicious individuals,” he said.

EXTORTION

He however pointed out that it is not illegal to walk without an ID- though it is not encouraged.

“Sometimes you can leave it at home by mistake. If you can identify yourself through alternative identification documents like driver’s license or job card or even a phone call to someone who can identify you properly to the police, you will be released immediately.”

On the accusation of extorting money from the public, Kinoti welcomed such information from members of the public for appropriate action.

“We do not go into the field with our officers to supervise them, but it would be wrong, very wrong if they were extorting money from the public,” he said.