Day two of protests it is. I took a minute off duty during today’s working from home and instead of watching things unfold from my balcony, I decided to go downstairs, just outside my gate to have a chit chat with the officers. Mine was to try have a healthy talk with at least one on what’s ailing us as a nation.

Luckily I managed to get one to speak. Perhaps he didn’t find me a threat and in a way we did blend so quick and as we had our talk he opened up more and more. For the purpose of this interview I gave him the name Mwangi because apparently there is no way he was going to provide me with his real name. So Mwas remained his code name the entire time and we were like ;

OTIENO : Hi officer, sorry for another hectic day at work. And congratulations, the head of state did commend the police for a job well done.

MWAS :(smiling) Yes of course if the President says so, who are we to deny. Except Mr. President should at least reward us with some allowance. You know how hard this job can be.

JACOB OTIENO : So you mean all this time you are not rewarded or given allowances for such special assignments?

MWAS : Not at all my brother. You citizens think we get something out of our running battles but we don’t. We actually have the same problems as you people, except we have a chain of command that we have to obey.

JACOB OTIENO : It pains my heart to know that government can budget for bullets, teargas and gears, yet fail to offer our officers some tip at least as hardship allowance. There is much of work to do especially during protests.

MWAS : If you can lower your voice a little. My fellows might think am trying to badmouth the service.

JACOB OTIENO: No worries, on the low now, kindly allow me ask why its necessary to take out a rioting or protesting citizen with a live bullet?

MWAS : That’s a tricky part my brother. You see every officer is given 3 items when they leave the station, and that is aside from a gun. These are Live Bullets, Rubber Bullets and Teargas Cannisters.
JACOB OTIENO : Am listening Mwas, so when and how do you decide its time to skip the rubber and go for live bullet?

MWAS : Listen, I want to be honest with you. I haven’t used a single live bullet since the protests began yesterday. I have been on rubber and teargas mostly. And I wont lie to you. We are a police force but each officer has their own level of humanity. Some do not have at all.

JACOB OTIENO: Thought you went through the same training. What happened to ‘utumishi kwa wote’?

MWAS : We are one nation but even in our service we speak different languages. There are those of us from other regions who may still have traces of tribalism in them and they don’t care if another tribe goes down. I think there is that permanent bad blood between certain tribes who tend not to like each other so while in service some officers tend to exercise a lot of force given the hatred.

JACOB OTIENO: Quite unfortunate, so within your disciplined forces, patriotism is hanging on the balance right? Could that be the only reason?

MWAS: That is on just a handful. A number of us are suffering from fatigue. We get so tired and the fact that we are not compensated for the special programs some of us end up so frustrated at work. That kind of tiredness can make an officer aim at a protesting citizen with a live bullet. You can imagine this is a frustrated officer with a weapon. All they can do is silence you as part of consolation for their personal problems at home. You have heard of officers kill each other right !

JACOB OTIENO: Makes a lot of sense to me know. Word has it that there are specific rogue officers sent out to polarized regions with specific orders..

MWAS : Which kind of orders?

JACOB OTIENO: You know the orders am talking about sir.

MWAS : Clean up or shoot to kill?

JACOB OTIENO : We are on the same page there. Yes shoot to kill.

MWAS : I think you are either overthinking or going too deep with this. But I would say am a good cop and I value the lives of the common mwananchi. Remember I have a family or relatives elsewhere I would not wish to put through the same trauma.

JACOB OTIENO: Sounds good, but it doesn’t answer my curiosity.

MWAS : Listen you are just a regular citizen and you do not know much about the police force or military. We take an oath to protect innocent citizens and their properties.

JACOB OTIENO: Commendable, nothing to do with protecting the government of the day? Legitimate or illegitimate?

MWAS : That is where you go wrong. As citizens your work is to vote and go home, wait for results. Whoever emerges the winner becomes the leader of the day and we have to do our due diligence of maintaining law and order.

JACOB OTIENO: As a police force do you ever get divided on political ideologies? Lets say pro government or pro opposition?

MWAS : It is a matter of the heart not the service. In the police it is the chain of command that works.

JACOB OTIENO : I think that puts me in my place. Now this is a direct question you seemed to have avoided it. Allow me ask. Do you believe there are dirty cops within the service.?

MWAS : I believe there are different segments or departments within the police force and I think you are asking me matters of intelligence and I might not be able to answer that. Maybe its a yes and no. I am not aware.

JACOB OTIENO : Am not trying to incite or brainwash you in any way but do you believe the police have for long been used by governments of the day without reward?

MWAS: I would say there have been police reforms but some take long to get implemented. We have also suffered a lot because citizens judge us and think we are bad people. Allow me say we suffer the same problems as you civilians. Our salaries have inequities just as you guys. We share lots of things so when the tax goes up,it affects us too. What I would say is, we have a calling to maintain law and order and all jobs have their unpleasant side .

JACOB OTIENO: Before I rush back and let you do your job, there are lots of incidences of uniformed men killing their loved ones and finally themselves.. any remedies you would recommend for the government?

MWAS :I lost a friend and his entire family of wife and two kids over the same. It has not been long. I think its high time the service focused on the psychological well being of its officers. We need more counselling and therapy. Lastly all we can do is be a brother’s keeper. Once we cannot separate the police and their weapon, then I think we need to keep track of every station and the psycho aspect of the calling. We have the same problems as I mentioned. The difference is that we think this gun can make our problems go away.

JACOB OTIENO :True to your words. Thanks a lot officer. Wish you well.

MWAS : You too. Stay indoors, you don’t have a choice. Not all these fellows you see in uniform are good people.Some are too aggressive.