New police spokesperson Bruno Isohi Shioso explains the operation in Laikipia, what the service is doing to stop violence in the run-up to general elections, why women are no longer hired by the Service Unit generals, the challenge of murder and suicide among officers, and many other issues.
Mr. Charles Wahongo Owino was a familiar face with most Kenyans for many years as the Director of Corporate Communications of the National Police Service (NPS), a role which was given to Mr. Shioso, who took over. recently interviewed with Daily Nation journalist STELLA CHERONO.
You recently joined the NPS as Director of Communications. Where were you before that?
I had worked with the NPS and the UN. I have had the greatest service at DCI in many ways. These range from a criminal court prosecutor, a fraud investigator, a DCIO, a PA to two DCI directors, a deputy director at the bank fraud investigation department of the CBK and a CCIO (County DCI Chief) before moving to the UN in New York. to accept a three-year contract as an expert on transnational organized crime. After my contract, I asked for annual leave to be recalled shortly by the IG to resume the current assignment.
Who is Bruno Isohi Shioso?
I am an average officer with a penchant for justice. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m focusing on my best by learning from the downs. I have had the privilege of working with intelligent officers.
What strategy do you bring to the service and what is your greatest strength?
I want to be the leader of a professional and competent communications team, motivated to shape the image of the NPS company and articulate the vision of the IG to the public. I intend to be frank with Kenyans in sharing timely information and playing a role in their education on who is the police and what is policing. We have to operate from the same baseline with the audience. I would also like to be a student of public expectation in order to communicate effectively internally. This is the only way to improve the lack of trust between the police and the public. Finally, I would like to salute my predecessors who worked tirelessly to shape and integrate the corporate communication of the NPS.
My strength is to work as a team. I strive to build coalitions with the media, my colleagues and the public.
You join the NPS at a time when officers are accused of disappearances, arbitrary arrests and executions. What will you do differently to ensure that public trust is restored?
We take the disappearances and the others like any other crime. The NPS is investigating evidence-based allegations. If there are any allegations of police complicity, they should be referred to the Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa). Police officers are law enforcement, not offenders. Those who break the law are held accountable on an individual basis.
When the Directorate of Command, Control and Communication (IC3) was launched, Kenyans hoped it would end or reduce assaults, kidnappings and thefts on the roads. Lately, investigations into this matter have led to dead ends. Does the IC3 work? Is there a communication problem?
The IC3 is a game-changer, especially in Nairobi and Mombasa. It is a model of intelligent police. Since deployment, we have seen more efficiency. We have adopted a proactive posture that informs our planning and operational capabilities. IC3 greatly facilitates our investigations. It is difficult to quantify the effectiveness of IC3 ordinarily, as people measure police performance in terms of parameters, but the real measure is not on the number of cases detected but on crime prevention. . It is a delicate measure. Police have the sixth sense of knowing when a response is working.
As with any new solution on the market, there is always a learning curve. We will perfect the system.
Do facial recognition features work? Why were the killers of Jacob Juma, Chris Musando, George Muchai and many others not apprehended?
Murder is one of the most difficult crimes to conclusively investigate. The authors plan meticulously in advance. Forensic science is only part of the solution. When we talk about DNA and facial recognition, for example, we first need to have a database as a benchmark, just like we have for fingerprints. Without a DNA database and facial biometrics, against what basis should the police make comparisons?
This is why we need to interact with Kenyans to educate them on the capabilities and limitations of the police.
Home Secretary Fred Matiang’i called on the NPS and regional commanders to facilitate the voluntary surrender of guns to Laikipia. Does this also apply to bandits? How many weapons were handed over in the area of ââoperation and in the neighboring counties of Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo?
Amnesty is one of the solutions in Laikipia. Laikipia’s question is looked at holistically. There is a need to find lasting solutions to the grazing conflict and banditry across the region to be resolved conclusively. It is a region with great potential. Firearms should only be in the hands of security officers and authorized persons.
What is the security plan before the 2022 elections? Already, some counties have been identified as possible hotspots.
NPS security preparations are well underway. We work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as the principal and other stakeholders. It is a role taken very seriously in the NPS calendar of events. Mapping hot spots is key to police operations, especially elections. Predictive policing helps with planning, including the intelligent deployment of resources and assets.
There is a resurgence of criminal gangs in areas identified as hot spots. What are the concerns of the NPS since many young people in the slums are vulnerable?
We face resurgence whenever it arises. NPS has zero tolerance on criminal gangs and violence. Young people are abused when they should be engaged in economic enterprises. They need to know the dangers of gang life.
Terrorist attacks have been foiled on the coast and in parts of northeastern Kenya. Should we be worried? Are such incidents linked to the 2022 elections?
It shows that our counterterrorism strategy is working. Kenya is a good example on how to fight terrorism. We have a strong regime, starting with good laws, a political environment and law enforcement. There is also a vigil and a resilient population. The NPS integrates community policing to strengthen existing counterterrorism measures. In short, our counterterrorism infrastructure takes care of Kenyans. Many countries and law enforcement agencies are learning from us.
In your brief stint as the spokesperson for the NPS, you have been scrutinized in the way you relay crucial information. One area of ââconcern is when you have branded a journalist as “just blogger” while she is registered with the Kenya Media Council. Should journalists be concerned about perceived antagonism?
Thanks for bringing up the issue, which arose out of Laikipia’s cover. I didn’t call anyone a “simple blogger” but I did refer to “a blogger”. This, I understand, has not gone well with many journalists. I even had a frank discussion with the Media Council after said reporter apparently complained. The reference was not pejorative. In fact, blogs are part of the mainstream media. Any journalist can choose to be a blogger. Blogging is simply any form of posting online under a person’s name. I based my blogger referral on content that appeared online under his credit. It wasn’t until later that I found out that she was working for a media house and I can’t wait to work with her.
My reference was not the substantive issue I raised then. My concern was expressed in the press release, and it was not answered. Otherwise, there was no bad intention or antagonism from the very resource I had to work with to achieve my primary goal.
What is your view on the involvement of women in security as provided for by resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council?
This is one of my favorite subjects on the police. I am a fan of affirmative action. Women can be a game-changer in transformative policing, especially by opening up new areas of cooperation. They are more selfless, understanding, patient, and emotionally intelligent. They can play a better role in bridging the gap with the audience by being good listeners. The NPS is in accordance with affirmative action. It may take some time to achieve parity, but we are working in that direction.
Lately, the General Service Unit has only hired men. Why is it so?
There is no policy preventing women from joining SSG. The NPS, including the GSU, is an equal opportunity employer.
What is the NPS doing to combat suicides and forcible killings?
For the first time, NPS proposed a lasting intervention of a counseling and chaplaincy structure to meet the psychological needs of the agents. NPS has also partnered with Chiromo hospitals, the Red Cross and many other actors. This is a critical area of ââintervention since police work is a predictor of stress. Other areas of intervention are the focus on staff well-being and an evolution of HR practices.
A working group to review agent mental health was formed in 2017. What were its findings and how is the NPS addressing this issue?
Being new, I will need some time to go into the details of the results. I like to be specific with the information.
Police have been charged with throwing bodies into morgues and improperly conducting investigations to identify the dead, but the Registrar of Persons has a strong database accessible to the police. What is the NPS plan on this?
Unfortunately, all the blame is on the police, despite their best intentions. Even when they undergo the rigors of collecting the bodies, some mutilated, they are still accused of throwing them away! Unless the public understands the troubles police are going through, we will always complain.
Ipoa has in the past accused the NPS of cover-up, particularly over investigations into crimes allegedly perpetrated by police officers. Are the police deliberately disrupting investigations to protect theirs?
I don’t think Ipoa can blame the police for covering up his colleagues. The agency has the ultimate mandate and authority to investigate the police. If Ipoa has evidence of cover-up, it’s more guilt for the accomplices. But I’ve never heard of it. All I know is that the IPOA and the NPS are working together on issues of police misconduct and excess.