Nakuru County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo has denied claims that police are encouraging killing by mob justice.
Addressing members of the press, Mwanzo defended Bondeni OCS Gemenet Kimutai after comments that appeared to encourage the lynching of criminals over the weekend.
Mwanzo said the officer did not encourage members of the public to take law into their own hands but collaborate with the police in curbing the spate of crime in the country.
"Let's work together with the public for the purpose of getting a safer city," Mwanzo said.
The police boss noted that it is very disappointing to see a member of the public being attacked in broad daylight and do nothing to stop the criminal.
"It's very disappointing to witness a crime but you can do nothing about it. You helplessly stand there and watch these boys mugging, stabbing and killing innocent people. So what the OCS was calling for is for the public to work with police," he said.
"You cannot watch as your fellow Kenyan is being attacked because today it is him or her and tomorrow it will be you. Help the victim and chase after the thief so that he does not harm someone else," he added.
Kimutai had been captured in a viral video telling members of the public in a security meeting to treat crime suspects with contempt, saying the law allows it.
"Kama mtu si peaceful, you assault that person as you wait for the police, kweli?" posed the officer as the audience applauded.
"Kama mtu amefanya kitendo tunasema hot pursuit, amedunga mtu, bado the incident is still fresh, huyo mtu auwawe... That is the proper interpretation of the law," he added.
He argued that dealing mercilessly with the "few" criminal elements would save the larger majority.
“We cannot allow few individuals who are criminal to continue disturbing the majority of the society... that one is not protected in the law. Out of a population, if 3% is disturbing the people, we eliminate the 3% by killing to save the 97%," he stated.
"Article 24 of this Constitution says certain rights can be limited, these are rights which can be limited…and the right to life is one right which can be limited."
The comments sparked controversy on social media with a section of Kenyans calling out the officer for promoting extra-judicial killings.
The latest comes amid increasing concerns over a surge in muggings in several parts of the country including Nairobi.
Yesterday, Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome called on police officers to restore order in the city
Koome, who spoke after meeting with Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja, stated that the stability of the nation should not be put in line.
"We cannot compromise on the stability of Kenya. It is a beautiful country. Our officers must be patriotic, we have a duty and job to do," he stated.
At the same time, the new police boss stated that officers are going to use all means possible to curb the rising cases of robbery with violence saying the culprits are acting out of peer pressure.
"There's no offence in law called mugging, it is robbery with violence and that is a capital offence. We are going to use all means at our disposal to ensure these young people acting out of peer pressure are dealt with properly," he noted.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki also directed the police to deal decisively with the criminal gangs.
He said the government was determined to restore public safety in the streets of Nairobi and vowed to take the fight to the criminals.
“Those boys who have dared the government and want to tell us that they can take over the city and make it a center of crime, we’ve heard also heard you and therefore we are coming effective immediately," he said.
To ensure police officers are adequately incentivized for their difficult and often risky assignments, the CS promised that a comprehensive review of the salaries and the terms and conditions of all security officers will be undertaken.
“Shortly the government will initiate a process of engagement with a view to relooking at the terms and conditions that our officers serve under while taking into cognizance that for a very long term now, the terms and conditions of our officers serve have not been reviewed with a view to adjusting them to the cost of living.”
The CS also had a similar message for cattle rustlers and bandits who are active in the North Rift saying the government will expand its crackdown to include those abetting the crimes including financiers, spiritual leaders and traders in stolen animals.