Kenyan police officers who use social media platforms to decry issues such as unfair treatment or sexual harassment, among others will now face disciplinary action says Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai.
In a circular released to the police service on Wednesday, Mutyambai said police officers should use the correct channels to air their grievances and anything contrary was going against the law.
According to the circular, the Inspector General has noted with a lot of concern that police officers take to social media to air their grievances without following the laid protocol to the letter which includes the quality assurance/complaint and gender offices at service headquarters as well as the Internal Affairs Unit.
“Chapter 24 Section 55 of the service standing orders prohibits information transmission by members of the service on social media unless they can clearly be linked to the conduct of official business. It is also an offence against discipline under Section 6(w) Chapter 30 of the SSO CMM to disclose or convey any information on police matters without proper authority,” said Mutyambai.
Only last month, the viral clip of a female police officer attached to the Traffic Department in Mombasa County went viral with discrimination by her seniors and sexual harassment at the heart of the emotional lamentations. The video got to the IG who directed investigations on the matter and findings to be revealed within seven days.
“I have directed the Gender and Children Directorate to independently investigate the matter and give a report within 7 days,” said Mutyambai
In the video, the policewoman said that she was unable to resign because seniors in the force blocked her letters.
“I have been writing several resignation letters to the Inspector General of Police but they are being blocked down here, I am tired of the service, I want to go do other things,” she said.
The emotional officer also pleaded with President to disband the force which was a den of corruption and bribery.
The media is awash with news about police officers acting out because of mental health issues with suicides and attacks on spouses and fellow colleagues being the main symptoms of the problems. Just this year, about five policemen were reported to have either committed suicide or were murder victims.
Most officers also suffer silently in the face of unfair treatment from their superiors and there is not much they can do about it as there are consequences of telling on superiors.
Police officers know the law and if they have chosen social media as their channel of airing out their problems then it follows that they may be working with a broken system of solving issues and therein lies the problem. If that is the case then social media presented a lifeline for people who needed to be heard and if they can’t freely express themselves using this tool we may end up with a very frustrated lot.