The public outrage over the conduct of the Kenya Police Service is understandable.
The agency, whose cardinal duty is protect lives and property, is increasingly becoming roguish and lawless.
The way it has been carrying out operations lately, depicts an institution bereft of tact, one that operates whimsically and has no regard for the law; raising questions about its professionalism and quality of leadership.
This week’s shooting of seven-year-old Geoffrey Mutinda, who was playing on a balcony at Pipeline Estate in Nairobi, is incomprehensible.
In the past three months, at least three children have been felled by trigger-happy officers. Many others have been maimed.
Though the officialdom has been sketchy with the figures, the numbers are unusually high. Yet nobody has been arrested and prosecuted.
The problem is that the service never thinks strategically. It has one template for every situation – use of force to break up riots or disperse public rallies. Yet there are various other tactics.
On Tuesday, police broke up an opposition rally, beating up people indiscriminately, and clobbering cars.
A fortnight ago, they descended with unbelievable crudity on Nasa leader Raila Odinga and his supporters as he returned from an overseas trip.
The police service has dedicated itself to fighting the opposition; outlawing protests with brute force.
We have never condoned mass protests because they are a recipe for chaos but that can never take away citizens’ rights to assembly, protest and association.
The police have denied allegations of blatant abuse of power. However, these denials are not enough.
If they are not responsible for the killings and other miscarriages of justice, then they must bring to book whoever is responsible.
Inspector-General Joseph Boinett must take responsibility for the mayhem.
Unfortunately, even the oversight bodies, the Police Service Commission and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, seem to have become toothless, the latter continuously talking of investigating the excesses but doing practically nothing.
It is time to stop this police brutality.