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Mombasa Securex 'Our Take on Arming Private Security Officers'

MOMBASA -- After the recent gazette notice released by the Ministry of Interior on regulations operationalizing the Private Security Regulation Act 2016, a wrong perception has been developing around the arming of Security Officers.

This has been fueled by comments from various people being taken out of context and by others imagining that this will happen overnight.

Lucas Ndolo, Securex Chief Operating Officer explains what the gazette notice means.

Last month an old friend and client called me.

He was beside himself at the possibility of having an armed guard at his house.

He said, "Please put my guard on the list of those that you will be giving guns to."

He and many other Kenyans could not be more misguided.

The regulations are the foundation that will eventually make it possible to have some privately armed security officers in the country.

The regulations cover many aspects of the industry and in fact, do not expressly cover the arming of Security Officers.

  Lucas Ndolo, Securex Chief Operating Officer | Coastweek

MOMBASA -- Securex Chief Operating Officer Lucas Ndolo. PHOTO - SECUREX MOMBASA
Section 53 of the act clearly forbids the use of firearms by Security Companies.

This provision of the act will have to be revised and this can only happen by way of an amendment through parliament.

In my opinion, while the act in itself gives powers to the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA), the regulations need to be clear and enforceable.

There has been quite a bit of public participation within the industry, but there are still sections that continue to feign ignorance.

This legislation could not have come at a better time for our industry.

We need to be more professional, we need to pay our security officers appropriately and only then can we take our proper place as important players in the provision of safety in Kenya.

We must strive to provide our security officers with the necessary tools of trade required to protect themselves while providing safety to others.

In some cases, this may include guns at some assignments.

However, one cannot overemphasize that, should an amendment be passed, not every security officer will be armed.

What is most important about the act is actually not the move to arming of security officers who will primarily guard banks, cash in transit, VIPs, government buildings and vital installations but rather the number of police officers that can be freed up from these routine and mundane duties to carry out their core function; that of maintaining law and order and fighting crime.

Some estimates have this number close to 40,000.

We can only imagine the impact of redeploying even half of this number in high crime areas.

The regulations have put in place structures, reports, and requirements that will allow the strict monitoring of all security officers.

The authority will know which company employs which security officers and where they are deployed.

Each officer will be required to undergo stringent vetting, training, and regular refresher training.

Using a gun is not simply about pointing it and pulling the trigger.

There is significant training that prepares one to work under pressure, while real bullets are flying towards them, how to take cover, identify vantage points and how to expose themselves and others to the most minimal risk.

Most importantly there must be constant training, monitoring, and retraining on the use of firearms.

Given the above, we are unlikely to see officers without previous disciplined force training being employed as armed private security officers.

The Act outlines clearly that security officers must undergo adequate training before they are deployed on assignment.

This is non-negotiable and all private security companies must embrace it.

In the absence of the regulation, companies have had to develop their own curriculum for the services they offer.

Currently, different companies offered varied training, while some do not train at all.

However, with the new law, there will be a standardized curriculum and assessment as well as oversight will be done by PSRA.

Every private security company is now required by the law to carry out a vetting exercise prior to training and employing a security officer.

Securex, for the last 49 years, has had a very stringent and comprehensive recruitment process.

This process has made us the preferred supplier to clients like the World Bank, the European Union, the largest malls, the best hotels and a number of embassies in Kenya.

Lack of oversight for so many years has created an influx of ill-equipped firms that do not have the capacity to effectively provide security.

The implementation of this Act will force these firms to bolster their service or have their licenses revoked.

This will greatly improve the quality of service we offer and level the playing field as companies that offered no training and supervision would be forced to spend money to comply.

Previously you would find private security companies that have been known to conduct their recruitment and training in a completely unprofessional manner.

You would find them conducting recruitment on Monday, training on Tuesday and Wednesday, then deploy the officers on Thursday.

By so doing the company ends up not only endangering the lives of these officers but putting at risk the property and lives of clients.

Such practices have now been nipped in the bud by the new regulations.

The new law does not aim to replace police officers with private security officers in all areas but only where the duties are mundane or simple in nature.

Taxpayer shillings will be effectively used to maintain law and order and fight crime, leaving the work of securing private individuals and guarding businesses to the private sector.

With professional private security officers, it will be easier to enhance collaboration between the Industry and the Police, which in turn will lead to lower crime rates to the benefit of the public.


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