The increase in complaints related to police brutality this year (2017) and the vast number of Kenyan-based internet users; the World Internal Security and Police index gave the police force of the Republic of Kenya a devastating 0.2983 score thereby ranking Kenya to a concerning 125/127 countries. Meaning that when it comes to capacity,progress, legitimacy and outcomes, the holistic image of the Kenya police is considered only slightly better than Nigeria and Congo DRC.
The ‘service with dignity’ government institution has on numerous accounts been accused of acting against several functions stipulated in section 24 and 27 of the National Police Service Act and article 244 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya leaving plenty of room to seed doubt on the integrity of the Internal Affairs Department.
While it is understandable that it is impossible to disseminate all the information pertaining the security of any sovereign state for the sake of protecting the very same sovereignty of a State, the growing lack of trust in the National Police Force should be worrying as it seems to increase despite numerous efforts by the Independent Policing Oversite Authority to communicate with the public.
Public Relations can mitigate the image crisis that has been catalyzed by the often erroneous appeal to emotion oversharing of the close to 40 million Kenyan based aggravated users. Therefore with every new incident that occurs, the police are without a doubt demonized and the civilians victimized. But what catalyses this gruesome picture the majority of society opts to paint of police callousness being norm?
HERE IS OUR CLASSROOM 101: POLICE CRISIS COMMUNICATION.
Media Training: Being prepared in the event your interview starts going sideways, boosts your ability to control your story thereby maintain the preferred image you would like your ‘publics’ to view you. Often we have seen both Inspector General J.K. Boinnet and Police Spokesperson Charles Owino get misquoted and pegged as ignorant rather than voices of hope and understanding.
Relying solely on in-house communications: The problem with internal affairs handling crisis management is the reluctance to outright say, there is a problem among us. While it will cost a little extra shilling or two, outsourcing a Communications expert conversant in handling a good crisis would subsequently offer a different direction. The truth is by now all agencies related to the National Police and Internal Security need to come to terms with the reality of the matter, the police are considered to be the worst possible they could be and with the opportunistic loud mouthing of #teamRESIST this is a reality that is not about to go away.
Control your story: In a time of crisis, be it media houses, gutter press, news agencies are seen to pick on issues and sell stories the best way they know. Appeal to emotion. Throughout 2017 Kenyans and the world at large have been reminded of the past barbaric acts of the police and as we go into 2018 Kenyans will be reminded of all civilians who met their death because of the very police.
Untimely Response: With any crisis, time taken to respond should never give chance to aggravated individuals to formulate a witch-hunt geared to tarnish your image any further. The National Resistant Movement is always on the alert ready to call out the National Police Service on matters Police Brutality and callousness. To their advantage, they has thrown blows linking said brutality to the “jubilee government ordered hits”
Moving forward rather than gazetting a PR/Communications tender and going for the least expensive bidder, the respectable members need to take into consideration the . Fact is general PR does not qualify when it comes to security.
THE IMPORTANCE OF POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIP
- Effective communication with your communities.
- Transparency and accountability
- Cultural Competency
- Collaboration activities and community visibility.
At the end of the day, the police-community relationship has always needed intervention. Rather than sweeping this growing rift under the proverbial rag, we urge the various departments of Internal Security to re-evaluate their PR plan and borrow a leaf or two from our favorite South African Minister, Mbalula April Fikile.
The former Sports and Recreation Minister now turned Police Minister is popular for his witty remarks and social engagement. His social media accounts attracts a vast 1.18 million followers and he uses it this attribute to engage with people residing in South Africa on the day to day police engagements with a clap back or two reserved for those who do not appreciate the progress that South Africa Police has made thus far.
Over to you Dr. Matiang’i, we look forward to seeing more stories of police-community engagement, we hope to mourn together with families of fallen heroes, celebrate the Police who take time to make a difference and transparency in the prosecution of “the bad seeds”