Today Kenya marks eight years since the deadly Westgate terrorist attack that left at least 67 people dead and more than 150 others injured.
While marking the anniversary on Tuesday, September 21, the National Police Service (NPS) remembered victims of the cowardly act revealing some of the lessons learned and the new approach adopted by security apparatus to curb such incidents.
“It has been a period of reflection and strengthening our capacity as a Service. We sympathize with the families that lost their loved ones. It is this painful loss that pushes us to stretch our limits in protecting Kenyans and their properties,” Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said in a statement.
Since the attack, the police boss revealed that more than 40,000 new police officers have been employed.
“This added to the 24,000 additional Administration Police officers deployed into General Duty after the recent NPS merger has improved our numbers immensely,” said Mutyambai.
“Consequently, we have had enhanced police presence in our security installations across the country.”
Further, Mutyambai said, NPS has installed a reliable surveillance system in major towns and cities and procured modern security equipment.
Besides the installations, Mutyambai disclosed that the government carried out training of the police to equip them with relevant skills.
“We have also improved individual capacities of police officers and stakeholders by training of police reservists, enhanced training to special units, decentralization of special units to counties, sector-based highway patrols with a seamless command, police escorts in insecure areas, provision of ordinary police vehicles and specialized carriers,” he said.
He also pointed out the role of the Nyumba Kumi initiative in enhancing security in the country.
“Our investment in community policing and Nyumba Kumi initiative has also enhanced cooperation between police and the public. So far this has continued to build trust and has led to more information on terror and organized crime from the public,” he added.
Further, the officer noted that the service adopted a grassroots approach as part of the government efforts to counter violent extremism.
This was achieved through building networks with local communities.
Mutyambai also revealed that multi-agency cooperation had improved.
“Unlike in the past, multi-agency cooperation within the security apparatuses improved. This coupled with an efficient command structure and intelligence-led approaches has greatly enhanced our operational readiness,” he said.
“So much has been going on in the background to protect Kenyans and their properties. This is a vow we took. This is a promise we have kept.”
The Westgate attack was staged by four gunmen who were all killed in a four-day operation.
In October last year, a Nairobi court jailed two convicts linked to the attack to 33 and 18 years in jail.