Police use of excessive force on electoral violence during general elections cycles in Kisumu county
Okumu, Michael Ogada
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Police use of excessive force has seemingly become more prevalent in this day and age. Despite excessive use of force being an ongoing issue of concern in the country and its continued use as a strategy of suppressing election instigated violence in the country, much effort has not been put to establish the effectiveness of the strategy in achieving its objectives. This study therefore intended to establish causes, effectiveness of police use of excessive force, and effects of police use of excessive force in repression of electoral violence during general elections cycles in Kisumu County as well as identifying nonviolent resistance strategies police can adopt to alleviate electoral violence during general elections cycles. The motivation for this study is to play a role in addressing the problem of police use of excessive force not just during electoral protests by the general public but also during other protests. Retributive Theory of Punishment and the Routine Activities Theory were used to guide the study. The findings of this study ergo are expected to be of immense significance to the leadership of the National Police Service, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, residents of Kisumu County and citizens of Kenya as a whole. Descriptive research design was therefore used to provide further insight into the area under study. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches being taken. The study was exclusively carried out in Kisumu County. Top officials of the National Police Service, top officials of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, the Kisumu County Commissioner, Deputy County Commissioners in the county, elected politicians in the county, the general police officers, and residents of Kisumu County were the target population. A combination of probability and non-probability sampling techniques were used to select respondents during data collection. Using Krejcie and Morgan’s table for determining sample size, 384 individuals were engaged in the study. Questionnaires and an interview schedules were used to gather data from the respondents. The overall finding of this study was that excessive use of force by police officers when repressing electoral violence in Kisumu County was found to be relatively effective. Perceived prejudice by police, poor internal accountability mechanisms and deprived working terms for the police were found to be the driving factors behind police officers’ use of excessive force. Physical and psychological health problems, destruction of properties and in some instances loss of lives were identified as some of the outcomes when police applied excessive force. Alternative nonviolent strategies such as use of tear gas canisters and less lethal technology devices coupled with proper and adequate training for officers were advanced as substitutes for use of excessive force. Acquisition of less lethal technologies being used in other countries, improved proper, appropriate and more intensive professional training, and ensuring accountability of police officers were some of the measures proposed to help solve the problem of use of excessive force by police which also creates bad blood between officers and the general public. On the part of the general public, it is recommended that they should avoid taking law into their own hand by resorting to protests and violence but should instead explore legal avenues to address their grievances.
Africa Nazarene University