The Jagular Vein

Cops & Robbers: Why police becoming criminals is a good thing

Most are just trying to make amends for their fathers for the sake of their children

Smoking gun: Police in Kenya have recently turned into criminals in worrying numbers.

By Kenyatta Otieno

Contributing Editor


I take pride in being an asker of questions. My inquisitive mind recently remembered the above question after the Kenya Police Service raised an alarm at the rising number of police officers facing the law they are meant to defend. The rise in police officers engaging in crime to me is a good thing because it brings to light another side of the force that is always pushed under the rag as soon as it rears its ugly head. The rag is full and the dirt had to be swept out in the street.

Once upon a time in my youth, we used to rhetorically ask, “Where was my father when people were looting this country?” The question was an answer to unanswered questions on why some of our peers came from wealthy politically connected families while we lived by faith. Why didn’t my father get into the ring and loot as well, nobody has ever been jailed for looting state coffers anyway? On the other hand several people have been killed for trying to stand in the way of looting. Why did they stand aside without looting or standing in the way to prevent it?

These are tough questions to ask of one’s father. It was in the naivety of youth but as soon as I came of age I realized that my father did his best from where he stood. It is not easy to get into the looting ring and one’s survival is not certain either. I am also struggling to push my family up the next level just like he did. This does not exonerate the looters. Unfortunately some people have never made peace with this reality and so wealth must be acquired by any means necessary because money is green.

In the past one month about 50 police officers have been arraigned in court for crimes involving huge amounts of money and top notch organization. There is a new wave in the police service. Since January 2019, 626 officers have been arrested for various crimes which make it about 60 officers every month. That is a very high number with one of them having circumvented an interdiction and appeared in Kayole Police Station where he was arrested for another crime recently.

There is no difference between these cops and state officers looting

It is common knowledge that senior police officers live large off proceeds from corruption channels that goes up the ranks in the service. The junior officers have decided to jump the gun for proceeds that they don’t have to share with their seniors. There is no difference between these cops and state officers looting state corporations into ruin. The only problem is these cops are facing the law while the people they watch over as they loot enjoy their loot in comfort. There lies the irony of corruption structure in Kenya, it is determined by where you ‘father’ is.

The Police Service can go back to how they recruit and train and change procedures and policy but I can bet things will get worse. In Kenya as long as you are wealthy you are respected. Nobody will question how you got your wealth and if the law tries to catch up, you thrown some money along the path to slow it down then find ways of turning it back. We are all looking for a way of getting rich in whatever way possible and these cops were just unlucky.

Our police officers are sent to track lost cash even if just for public relations purposes. In some cases they may present a water tight case to the Director of Public Prosecution but the case will still collapse. What do you expect from people who know who stole what and how they stole it and how they got off the hook? What do you expect from people who know the leaders who are building an empire on dirty money? These officers know the criminal system very well in this country that they will only rot in jail if their colleagues decide to let them fry.

Looking into the future, if you answer the question I began with, then you are bound to swear that your child should never ask such a question when you are old. I have seen several of my peers going full throttle to shield their children from the challenges they underwent. The challenge is the looting system is created in such a way that only selected strangers are allowed in first as errand boys. That is why there will be casualties who will end up in prison for trying to break into the circles by any means necessary. 

It is a tough job trying to plug the holes left by your father

The worst part is unless you break in now, your child will be forced to work twice as hard to make it. It is a double jeopardy for the many Kenyans who try to earn an honest living. As long as we put much value on the end game of wealth accumulation and forget the process we should look at these policemen with understanding. They are just trying to make amends for their fathers for the sake of their children.

It is a tough job trying to plug the holes left by your father. It is even painful to pay for your father’s sins but the ‘founding fathers’ of this nation set us upon this path of impunity. The sins of our fathers have caught up with us. The police officers have set out to get even for their father’s sins of omission. They have decided to do something for their children’s sanity but this will end up into a vicious cycle.

British Reggae band UB40 has the verse below in their song – Sins of the Father;

So come and sit beside me
And let my tale unfold
In a land on milk and honey
Where the truth must not be told
As men of right and reason
Let the devil take their soul
For greed and fame and fortune
And a river black as gold

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