By Jane Beatrice Obila
Cases of police officers using live ammunition in public places to disperse individuals resulting in death and injuries are heart-wrenching.
Many people going about their normal daily activities have become victims of this. The recent one is that of four people shot in Kisumu, Juakali area, which also claimed the life of a Rang’ala Girls’ student.
Yes, police officers are allowed to use firearms when performing their duties as stipulated in section 61 of the National Police Service Act, but non-violently. It is, however, sad that those who are supposed to maintain law and order are disobeying what guides their conduct as well.
Police using live ammunition has shattered the dreams of individuals with promising futures as we have heard in news reports. Some victims have also sustained horrific injuries, forcing them to undergo expensive surgeries they cannot afford to pay for, and when they afford to pay, it leaves them with life-long scars while others die in the process.
Losing a loved one who woke up healthy in the morning and went out to fend for their family due to the reckless behaviour of law maintainers is painful.
It is high time police officers use other things like rubber bullets and teargas, which cannot cause death when dispersing an unarmed crowd- they have been given power by the sixth schedule of the previously mentioned Act to only use live bullets under circumstances where they are saving or protecting life or while defending themselves or another person against the impending danger.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) should perform its duty of providing an oversight role over the work of police officers by conducting investigations when an officer is accused of not using their powers well. Those found guilty must be treated as criminals and dealt with as the law states.
The body responsible for training police officers should do their job well so that only professionals who can do their work properly, are allowed into the force. If measures are not put in place, police cases of using live ammunition will keep reoccurring because of the untrained police officers who are unaware of how they should behave.