The performance and conduct of Kenya police officers have long been a subject of public scrutiny and debate. Critics argue that, in many instances, the use of physical force prevails over intellectual acumen in the execution of their duties. It is often observed with bemusement how the officers sometimes mishandle crucial evidence, resulting in poorly investigated cases that lead to suspects being set free. Furthermore, a significant portion of individuals recruited into the police service have achieved a grade D in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), which is just two grades above the lowest possible score in the final examination. However, there is also a growing contingent of police officers with higher educational qualifications who hold the potential to bring a different perspective to the force.
The National Police Service (NPS) currently comprises a notable number of university graduates, totaling 3,739 officers across various ranks. These officers are distributed across key regions of the country, including Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru, Mombasa, Garissa, and Kisumu. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that these graduate officers represent a small fraction of the overall police force in Kenya, which is estimated to consist of approximately 109,000 personnel.
A significant point of contention in recent times has been the salary discrepancy between graduate officers and their non-graduate counterparts within the NPS. While university graduates in job group J receive a basic salary of KES 44,670, officers in job group F with similar qualifications earn only KES 19,290. This wage disparity has led to legal disputes, exemplified by a court case involving five police officers: Evans Muriuki, Ruth Odikara, David Ochom, Linet Wandia Njagi, and George Barasa. In this case, the Employment and Labour Relations court judge, Byron Ongaya, ruled in favor of the officers, ordering NPS to align the salaries of graduate police constables with those of police inspectors, in accordance with prevailing NPSC policy.
However, it is important to acknowledge the opposing viewpoint, as NPSC and the Inspector General, Hillary Mutyambai, have raised concerns about the feasibility of such salary adjustments. They argue that modifying the ranking system for officers who initially entered the service with a grade D may deny opportunities to deserving youth with similar qualifications in the future.
In addition to this ongoing debate, it is worth noting some interesting facts about the distribution of police officers in Kenya. A significant portion, approximately 12,000 officers, is assigned to serve as bodyguards, cooks, or messengers for VIPs. Another 13,000 work in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), while 9,000 are part of the General Service Unit (GSU). Furthermore, there are 2,000 officers in the Anti-Stock Theft Unit, 4,000 in the Administration Police (AP) guarding vital installations, and 4,000 officers responsible for traffic management. The remaining 55,000 officers are tasked with providing security for the over 40 million Kenyan citizens.
In conclusion, the debate surrounding the salaries of graduate Kenya police officers is a multifaceted issue that has sparked legal battles and public discourse. While some argue in favor of adjusting salaries to match qualifications, others raise concerns about potential consequences for future recruits. Whether revising the salary structure for graduate officers would significantly impact how they serve the public remains a subject of ongoing discussion and analysis.