Inside the Mind of a Kenyan Cop: Their Idea of a Bad Day at Work

Kenya Police
  • Well, have you wondered what goes on in a cop’s mind?

    As individuals – they all seem, well, regular people we live within our homes – brothers, fathers, and, wait, sisters. Two of the infamous six cops nabbed for the Kianjokoma are women!

    In street banter about the cops, the 4th person voices a question we all want to pin on our Facebook walls:

    “Kwani hawa officers wanawake hawangetetea hawa vijana (Couldn’t the female cops defend these young boys?” 

    It’s somehow inconceivable that a woman would sync a colleague’s appetite for violence so much to join a clubbing party.

    Sit up, shut up – and learn from a cop’s perspective – it’s always the case of a ‘bad day in the office’.

    Every police station holds a morning parade. A bad day in the office starts here.

    If you teach for a living (and, randomly pelt your students with pieces of chalk) this is akin to the impromptu staff meeting the deputy head calls – interrupting your tea.

    He rarely has anything new: Be early for class – Enforce discipline in the night preps – Supervise the queues over lunch – Miss Thuo, you are on duty, please re-read the school’s guidelines on dress codes.

    Miss Thuo is new – from a city school that wasn’t overly keen on skirt hemlines. She’s popular – has single-handedly spiced up a rather bland literature department.

    The corporates – say, banking or insurance – it’s the morning brief by the branch manager.

    The guy drones of weekly targets – a probability of the regional manager arriving unannounced to ‘catch-us-all-napping’ and, there’s always an employee with a trait that disgusts him – so, Kevin, stop using the office wifi during company hours to chat Indians.

    Kevin is an intern – mighty excited by unlimited free wifi. If only someone would teach him the pros of incognito browsing.
    Ok, the cop’s morning parade.

    The OCS is in a foul mood. It’s a Monday morning, foggy and as cold as a witch’s tits. Boys in blue on a blue Monday. Stupid, but catchy. Ok, not funny.

    The OCS orders the Sergeant to round up everyone. The Sergeant is a tad elderly, weather-beaten, has a faded sweater with holes on the elbows. He likes berating juniors with his stories in the glorious 80’s – of his stints in The Shifta War – when ‘the police was the police’.

    He starts darting around the station’s compound banging on iron huts – because none of the officers picks his call.

    Kenya Police

    The Sergeant – who keeps the rota – is bound to change the weekly duty rota without notice. 

    Imagine, after a long week as a sentry at the main gate, you psyched up to an easy week guarding the bank downtown. On a whim, the sergeant swaps you with Constable Akinyi – a fresh recruit ‘who needs to sample what a day at the bank means’.

    The startled cop’s red-eyed stares at his phone, and mutes it. He snuggles deeper into his service blankets. He’s groggy, after a good liquor session at the local.

    He had staked his entire month’s salary on Arsenal getting beat in the opener game. Luckily, that team doesn’t disappoint.

    Well, all the cops line up on an empty spot near the station’s holding cell. The stench from the cell wafts in irregular waves across the ranks.

    The OCS ain’t in a hurry – he’s skimming OB reports and checking the rota from a week back. In between, he’s muting calls from a number saved entirely with love emojis – his new mistress – the reason he’s been mostly absent that week.

    Meanwhile, the Sergeant is power flexing to his platoon. It’s rather ragged, to be honest. Almost everyone has something tattered – sweaters, patched trousers.

    Constable Mutiso’s toe is peeking from the front end of his boots. It means he has a hole in his boots, and on the socks.

    Oh, Constable Chege is heavily buttoned up in a trench coat. Thank God for the chilly weather – underneath, he’s in a vest. He cannot trace his shirt.

    The Sergeant doesn’t speak of any possible re-issue of the uniforms. His classic comeback is usually – “Ukiniona na mpya niulize zako ziko wapi….”

    Sergeant: Constable Mutiso, where’s your AK-47?

    The absent-minded constable snaps, heels about like a parade quartermaster and sprints to his hut. He’d forgotten his rifle underneath his bed, but, halfway there, remembers it’s actually in Chege’s hut. He gets there and realises Chege is using it at the parade.

    He whips out his kabambe and texts Chege: Buda, unamess na AK! 

    He watches Chege’s phone light up under his bedsheets. Damn! He sprints out to the OB and picks the officer on duty’s rifle. 

    Meanwhile, the OCS has taken over the parade. Mutiso halts at attention and asks to join.

    OCS: Mutiso, hii ni ujinga gani unachelewa parade? Uko na hii utoto bado? Nini mbaya na wewe?

    Well, the OCS continues to dress down the timid constable for a full two minutes. His tirade is not limited to work – he throws in jabs about Mutiso’s inability to pay his kid’s school fees, a bit about an estranged wife and so on.

    The mahabusu, a few feet away, are already snickering through the bars on the iron door.

    After Mutiso joins, the OCS proceeds to cancel the week’s application for offs and leaves citing a probability of the Interior Minister making an impromptu visit.

    Unused to the scenario, Constable Akinyi reminds the OCS that she hasn’t seen her family ‘since Kiganjo’.

    OCS: We umekuja juzi….uliona wazazi Kiganjo. Kuna hapa watu walienda kwao last year, sini kweli Sergeant? Fanya kazi mrembo….”

    Long after the question, the Sergeant is still nodding. As it is, the sergeant hardly ever goes upcountry. He has a parallel family in the neighbourhood. Plus, he’s due to retire and since the OCS has to write his reports – hardly ever opposes him.

    Kenya Police

    The OCS then digs into a memo from HQ. He pauses, often, to mute his phone. Someone’s phone rings in the rear row. The OCS wonders who’s that so indisciplined, oh its so-and-so…..happens that the officer recently had an altercation with a civilian in a pub up the street.

    OCS: Sergeant, assign this officer on Extra Duty – two weeks. Main gate.

    The parade breaks.

    As they go to their duties, someone’s ego is in the gutter after a public bashing on family matters. Someone is feeling like crap – leave has been cancelled. Someone spent the night drinking and is nursing the grandmother of all hangovers.

    All this leads to errors of judgement, sometimes fatal. 

    The Kianjokoma Brothers, the Kayole Youth and lots of other undocumented deaths ultimately got the blunt end of a cop’s bad day in the office.

    Well, as individuals, cops make the best of friends, husbands, spouses and whatnot. In uniform, a subconscious psychological mindset kicks in. This is indoctrinated, from day one in training.

    It’s a simple code:

    One, have your brother’s back. If your brother decides to kick in someone’s face, have his back. Thou shall never criticise a colleague — especially in front of a raiyaa!