The use of unmarked vehicles by police officers on patrol has been banned in Nairobi forthwith.
In a move aimed at containing the rampant extortion, brutality and in some cases extrajudicial killings, the officers have not only been prohibited from using Toyota Proboxes for any patrols but also directed to make arbitrary arrests and bar raids unless they are dressed in Persian blue uniform and under the command of an Inspector of Police.
“The use of such vehicles by officers in civilian attire has now been prohibited as such will be deemed as illegal operations and extortion, which is criminal,” a senior officer said.
As a result, not all officers will be allowed to raid bars, check trading licences and make arrests.
“Policing need be done professionally using the rightful resources. Station commanders must be ready to explain why private vehicles are used in policing matters,” the commander added.
The officers have further been directed not to conduct any police duties and other operations outside their areas of jurisdiction.
“Stern departmental action will be taken against any person contravening this directive forthwith,” the directive read.
Quick Response Unit (QRU) officers in jungle uniform have also been directed not to effect any arrests or visit bars and restaurants.
The move comes at a time when residents, especially those running clubs and eateries, have complained of police harassment and extortion.
“We must promote businesses and not undermine them,” the officers were told.
On August 18, 2021, John Kiiru was fatally assaulted by officers from Kayole police station patrolling in a Toyota Probox.
Kiiru was reportedly killed by officers enforcing curfew orders. According to reports, the rogue officers assaulted Kiiru and left him writhing in pain until he succumbed to the injuries.
According to witnesses, the deceased had hired a boda boda to take him to his house and on reaching Tushauriane stage, police officers driving in a white Toyota Probox hit them from behind.
The rider however escaped as the officers attacked Kiiru using batons, inflicting on him serious injuries.
The outlawed vehicles are reportedly mostly used by officers from Pangani, Soweto, Kayole, and Huruma police stations.
Investigations also reveal that in some cases, the officers change the number plates to ensure that they are not traced and subsequently held accountable for their actions.
The Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) have received a number of complaints where police officers have been raiding bars and harassing patrons.
On August 11, for example, police officers from Karen Police Station raided Spasso bar and restaurant located within Karen shopping centre. They were captured on CCTV collecting alcoholic drinks worth thousands of shillings. The owner made a Complaint to Inspector General and the matter is with IAU.
In another case, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in August directed the IAU to arrest and charge five officers from Soweto police station for raiding a bar in Kayole and stealing money from the bar owner.
“We are also investigating reports that a local station commander has been arbitrarily raiding entertainment joints within Jamhuri estate and confiscating alcoholic drinks,” he said.
Security experts say patrols using unmarked cars have both advantages and disadvantages. While marked vehicles improve police visibility, deter crime, and eliminate law enforcement impersonators, unmarked vehicles can also be useful in monitoring and effecting arrest.
“A combination of overt and covert mobile patrols will definitely have a bigger effect than one or the other. Concealed tactics may be justified when on the lookout for a suspect or in an area in which regular, visible patrols have been ineffective,” he said.