An investigation of police preparedness and experience in management of disaster incidents: a case study of police in Nairobi
Gachago, Beethoven K
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Throughout generations and civilizations, humanity has been confronted by natural catastrophes, and man-made hazards that often lead to suffering and fatalities. Throughout history, disasters have inflicted a heavy cost in human, material and physical resources, and damage to the environment. They represent a potentially significant obstacle to economic growth and development. Lack of disaster preparedness has remained one of Kenya's enduring development challenges for decades. In most disasters, the police are always the first to be called in which implies that they must be having some level of preparedness. This study therefore investigated the preparedness level of the Kenya police force in disaster situations even though disaster preparedness is not in the police training curriculum. Therefore the study is designed around how they respond to disaster without technical training. Force Standing Order (F.S.O.) provided by the Kenya police stipulates the function as maintaining law and order, preservation of peace, protection of life and property, detection of crime, apprehension of offenders and the enforcement of all laws and regulations with which it is charged. These tasks are demanding, enormous and challenging. People wonder whether the police force has suitable personnel in the system to sustain the societal demand and fulfill the public expectations. The study attempted to assess the operational capacity of the Kenya Police preparedness during disaster incidents. Using Modernity theory and chaos theory the study explored the challenges or constraints encountered by the Kenya Police force during disaster response, nature of preparedness in the Police force and police and public perception on Police preparedness in disaster response. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. The study mainly used survey research and adopted semi structured questionnaire to interview 100 police officers. Key Informant Interviews with senior officers and Focus Group Discussions with the public were also used to add depth to the quantitative information. The quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The analysis focused on descriptive statistics and cross tabulations. The study established that inferior, old equipment, inadequate communication tools, inadequate technological appreciation, slow administrative process, lack of relevant training, under staffing and political interference are the major challenges that the police face while involved in disaster response activities. Given these findings, there is need for the Police Force to procure basic but diverse safety equipment, have as minimal as possible administrative hindrance to rescue services, have substantial resource allocation for disaster management activities and institute disaster management department within the police force. The government also needs to recruit more police officers to meet the UN standards and improve public police relations to ensure free flow of quality information.