The administration of President William Ruto has reversed yet another significant policy choice made by his predecessor by allowing the police to wear uniforms that were phased out by the previous administration of former President Uhuru Kenyatta four years ago.
The widespread, unpopular, all-royal blue uniforms were in short supply and of poor quality, which is why the previous outfits were brought back.
Additionally, a proposal to implement the use of body cameras by the police is being paired with a plan to evaluate the design of the uniforms worn by prison wardens and police officers.
General-duty Kenya Police Service (KPS) officers will be required to wear both the old and new uniforms due to an internal decision.
It is anticipated that the arrangement of using two sets of uniforms concurrently for general duty assignments would last until a task force on police reforms appointed by President Ruto makes its final recommendations regarding which uniforms will remain in use.
Speaking on behalf of the National Police Service, Dr. Resila Onyango told Saturday Nation that the new instruction was given to address the issue of the new uniforms' unavailability as well as the poor fabric quality.
Police officers on duty have already been seen wearing the traditional uniforms of white shirts and navy blue pants for male cops and sky blue shirts and navy blue pants for female officers.
Inspectors of Police (IP) and higher senior command grades of officers are permitted to wear both old and new beige uniforms.
Only four years after the previous assessment of police uniforms, the mandate is the most obvious sign yet that another one is imminent. The new royal blue uniforms for Kenya Police Service officers of all ranks were introduced by NPS in 2018.
Officers and the general public harshly criticized the uniforms, calling them "ugly."
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua compared the dark blue uniforms to those worn by the Women's Guild of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). The matter eventually became part of the Kenya Kwanza coalition's campaign promises.
Last year, Mr. Gachagua criticized the blue uniform and promised that, upon gaining office, the Kenya Kwanza government would remove them and donate them to the PCEA Women's Guild.
However, top security officials at the time said that the choice of royal blue was made to ensure uniformity across all levels and to increase police visibility following the merger of the Administration Police and the Kenya Police.
At the time, former Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho had stated that the Uniform Committee had reviewed the previous administration's decision to change the uniforms before coming to its conclusion.
Joseph Boinnet, who was the police inspector general at the time, concurred with this stance.
The review was also conducted as part of a scheme to save Kenya Sh700 million by stopping the importation of police uniforms, which was intended to restore the country's cotton sector.
At the time, Fred Matiang'i, a former Interior cabinet secretary, slammed critics and insisted that the choice to produce police uniforms locally was irrevocable.
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