By Kiyo Nganga
On Friday last week, I got to visit Buruburu police station by default after a road accident along Outering road, the damage was extensive and the vehicles had to be carried on the back of rescue trucks to the station, the couldn’t be towed, the incident had to be documented.
At the station, something off normal was happening.
It being a Friday I expected a fully packed station, that is what characterises an OB desk on a Friday. After all, bad things happen on Fridays; people sin wholeheartedly on Fridays, Probably it is satan’s day out.
January 9th 2019 I penned what happens once you get into a police station, I was disappointed after such a visit into one, sadly on an early morning:
“When you visit a police station to make a report; especially early morning, first you are likely to find the Occurrence Book (O.B) with the O.C.S and Oh boy! you will have to wait.
After it is finally back another senior officer will demand to see some details, maybe to allocate officers duties as per occurrences.
Do you think the wait is over? The wait continues.
There must be a routine roll call using the same OB at the cells on the overnight raid of Ngeta guys and drunkards.
The hustle is almost over.
Now you embark on the real wait, together with your fellow ‘waiters’, you will be called one by one to report what brought you there.
It is a simple process that can take you up to half a day but the problem is only one; one Manual OB, zero-copy of.”
Buruburu Police Station on Friday had none of the above happenings, I had to ask about the ‘abnormality’.
The answer I got stunned me “siku hizi maneno ni digital”, I was not keen when all these happened. It is a milestone!
An Occurrence Book is the complete record of all reports of incidents, crimes, complaints and an inventory of all the suspects and the accusations against them in every police station.
I got to learn that in Nairobi there are 10,181 tablets with our officers, 210 high capacity desktops, covering all stations in Nairobi as a pilot program of Digitization of OB for the whole country.
Serial traffic offenders, Time is up!
This what it means to have a digital OB;
If you commit a crime in Mandera and get arrested then move to Mombasa and commit another and get arrested, an officer will be able to key in your ID Number and will see all other offences you have committed elsewhere across the country.
In our current situation, you are a criminal only in the jurisdiction you were caught.
What criteria do we even use to issue police clearance- certificate of good conduct? Maybe we should dump them, they are probably wrong, incorrect and inaccurate. Do you have one? When it was issued had you committed an offence that year? What data do you think DCI officers used to clear you?
In an ideal situation, DCI should be able to key in your ID and your record emerge, and within a day you get your System Generated certificate of Good conduct.
If we had a digital Occurrence Book on January 9th 2019, I couldn’t have penned above frustrations, the OCS could have accessed it at the comfort of his office or even his home, maybe while on his bed, and the officer on duty could also have done a login of the same for the routine roll call at the cell, while the officer at the OB desk continues with the records.
With portable OB Tablets like the 10,181 we have in Nairobi, I could have the report even to an officer on patrol without going to the station.
Mind you above are daily mishaps at every police station, they might appear normal and minute but they greatly affect the quality of evidence.
Talk of evidence, It is in Kenya where you are taken to court and your case has to be adjourned to a later date because of a mysterious animal that eats papers, called missing files. The animal eats into OB records in police stations. In Nairobi the animal is dead.
Interestingly,do you know It is required of by the law that County Commissioners and commanders go through Occurrence books of stations within their jurisdiction every Thursdays? But do they? It is practically impossible. But with digitized OB Police commanders will also be able to monitor activities in various police stations at the touch of a button following the digitisation of most of the police operations.
Every Monday 11 am to 12 noon the Inspector General hold an interactive session with members of the public on his social media pages and Live on NPS pages, people get an opportunity to raise their issues for follow up.
Can it be any better and simpler with digital OB? The IG could be doing follow up on a tap of the keypads, access OB from any police station from his office and verify whether a certain case was resolved.
When doing my industrial attachment at the National crime Research centre some years back, I experienced the hustle they undergo trying to analyze countrywide data to ascertain which crimes are rampant and where, what crimes are being reported and where. The research centre is supposed to give an informed recommendation every year based on the findings.
Do you think they give a hoot and actually go struggling with officers good or bad handwriting on OBs? This will be the easiest thing with a digital OB, they will only require access login.
We are moving in the right direction, but these developments worth celebrations happened when we were deep politicking and focusing on the negatives.