The communicative dynamics of the Kenya police force dressing code: an assessment of them impact on the forces' corporate image and service delivery to the public
Kibinge, Wa Muturi
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This study set out to establish the communicative effects of the police dress code policy, particularly to establish the Public and Police perception on various colours of police uniform; determining how the colour of police uniforms influence the public's cooperation with the police; establishing the views that the Kenya public and the police force hold about the police uniform in relation to performance and service delivery and finally give recommendations on how the police dress code can be improved to enhance the police force corporate image and service delivery to the public. The researcher was prompted to study on the communicative dynamics of the police dressing code on the grounds that: in today's mass-market media-driven society, it is becoming difficult to defme the forces role and image before someone else does it, this holds for police departments. A public develops and holds an image of its police department. This image defines the status of the police department and its employees in the community's esteem. It also affects the department's recruitment and retention, and the support it receives from the community. There is quite a lot of negative perception assigned by the general public to the police force in Kenya, once they are seen in their uniforms. In the mind of an average public, the police officers once spotted in uniform is perceived to be an atrocious, dishonest, rude and constantly on the look out of opportunity to exhort money out of the public. Therefore many police officers are not viewed as caring human beings and at times left alone to fight crimes. It is upon this that the research is developed to reality ascertain the communicative dynamics of the police force dressing code in relation to their corporate image and service delivery to the public. The study used a survey technique which covered the selected police stations, formations, and officers in Nairobi alongside the general public to whom service is delivered, and whose views were collected, to help gain insight into this line of inquiry. The major findings of the research indicated that there is positive impact of uniforms on police roles and policing strategies. The police uniform provides the most relevant implications and a potential focus for further examination of policy directions in the police force. Most of the respondents indicated that the colour of the police uniform is quite good and the public have positive perceptions of the various colours of police officers uniform because the colours allow the public to easily identify them and further make the officers approachable by the public .The study singles out the blue police uniform as friendly enhancing the public cooperation with the police while on duty. A small proportionate of respondents however, suggested that the khaki uniform is quite intimidating to the public. The police officers who were interviewed indicated no relationship between the colours of their uniform and performance. It was quite clear from the views of the public as regards police uniform in relation to the service they receive from the police as positive. This is evident from their views that the uniforms make them approachable, easily identifiable, suits the profession best, looks clean, presentable and durable and enhances the public confidence. Majority of the police officers were indifferent on the need to have dress code exceptions in different Units, departments, formations, ranks! cadres while discharging their duties. The views held by both the police officers and the public on the police dressing code in relation to performance of their duties was that various uniforms used by the police force communicate and expresses a prevailing correctional philosophy, a manner in which the police officers execute their duties with authority and identity. The findings further indicate that police officers have no problem with the various colours of their uniforms. The police do not perceive their dressing code as an impediment to effective service delivery to the public. They instead attribute the uniform to enhance level of cooperation they receive from the public. The study makes number of the recommendations: That the police officers attire can influence their performance and behaviors within the police force; the dressing code policy adds value to the corporate image of the police force. This is due to the fact that there are too many different sections within the police force and therefore, to avoid confusion among the members of the public. However, the dressing code policy should change to allow the police officers in the urban area to wear shirts that look friendly to the public. This is because the current dressing code scares the public to some extent. Finally, the police uniform should be well maintained at all times, that is to be clean presentable, not tom or faded nor should they be in different shades of the recommended colours. The police officers should be issued with new uniforms every now and then and fitted to their sizes. This would go a long way to create a positive public image.