The Independent Policing Oversight Authority on Wednesday opened a regional office in Kisumu ahead of the August 8 elections and warned the police against the use of excessive force on civilians.
This comes at a time when the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has profiled 33 counties, including Kisumu, as hotspots ahead of the polls.
IPOA chairman Macharia Njeru raised concerns about cases of police using live bullets to quell protests in the region.
“There is need for the police to use force corresponding with that of the public, for example during protests. We do not encourage the police to shoot, but rubber bullets can be used if need be,” said Mr Njeru during the launch.
He said, “Use of live bullets is not good for pubic policing. Even when an officer resorts to using rubber bullets, it is not right to aim at the heart because that would mean an intention to kill. Police can always shoot on the leg.”
Accompanied by IPOA board members and security officers from the region, Mr Njeru however cautioned members of public against violence and urged them to give the police a chance to execute their work.
“The police must be given freedom to do their work. In the process of execution of their duties, it is advisable that they use modern techniques to quell protests. They have teargas and protective gear they can always use for the sake of respect to humanity,” the Ipoa chairman said.
Mr Njeru announced that currently, the authority has 47 cases pending in court while 84 police officers have been exonerated from accusations leveled against them across the country.
“You can see from the statistics, the misconception that we have been hard on police officers is false because the number of officers exonerated still remains higher than the cases in court,” he said.
He noted that 297 cases with criminal culpability were still being handled by the authority.
Mr Njeru observed that 99 cases have been reported in the Kisumu regional office, with 40 under investigation while the rest have been referred to other bodies.
He said the regional office in Kisumu established after Nairobi and Mombasa will ease access to services, result in increased complaints intake and subsequent inspections, monitoring and investigations handling.
Mr Njeru said the authority has plans to establish nine additional offices across the country with the next one to be put up by end of the year being in Garissa.