The National Police Service is facing pressure from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to revoke a directive issued by former President Uhuru Kenyatta that transferred control of police choppers to the National Air Support Department (NASD) under the Kenya Air Force.
The police bosses have called for the return of the aviation equipment and procurement budget, as well as autonomy to procure choppers and planes.
The IPOA informed a taskforce led by former Chief Justice David Maraga that the limited services received since the transfer of the choppers and planes to the military have been inadequate.
The directive has also caused over 50 trained police pilots to become jobless. The prison service has reported a lack of its own planes for emergency operations, despite having qualified personnel, some of whom were seconded to the Police Air Wing.
The police have also demanded that the Marine Police Unit in various locations be equipped with the necessary equipment and personnel, including speed boats, coxswains, divers, and boat engineers.
In December 2020, President Uhuru inaugurated the NASD as a “multi-agency approach to service delivery” that aimed to improve the management of national aviation assets and enhance safety, efficiency, and availability.
However, the police service claims that the directive has negatively impacted their operations. The new demands come two years after Uhuru issued an Executive Order requiring government aircraft crews to report to the Kenya Air Force Commander.
The situation has once again brought to the forefront the delicate balance between the military and the police in ensuring national security.
The police service has argued that they should have full control over their own equipment, while the former President’s directive aimed to improve coordination and effectiveness in the management of national aviation assets.
The matter is expected to be resolved in the coming weeks as both sides negotiate a way forward.