Why dreaded police Flying Squad has been disbanded
The dreaded Flying Squad, a crack police unit, has been dismantled and its officers disarmed, it emerged on Thursday.
Officers serving in the unit across the country have been asked to return all police property in their possession, including handcuffs and uniform in orders given on Monday.
The Nairobi News learnt that the squad will be built afresh by staffing it with untainted and retrained police officers from the General Service Unit and other formations.
The Flying Squad, officially called the Anti-Motor Vehicle Theft Unit, falls under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, which has a new director — George Kinoti — who was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month.
He was previously the National Police Service spokesman.
The Nairobi News also learnt that the decision to reconstruct the unit was inspired by suspicions that some of its officers were linked to armed robberies and carjackings.
Other specialised police units under DCI are also set for a revamp at county and regional levels.
In one recent incident, an officer attached to Jogoo House, the National Police Service headquarters, was beaten up and injured by DCI officers attached to Nairobi’s Central Police Station in a mugging.
In another incident, a businesswoman was robbed of Sh800,000 after she was followed from a bank by gangsters.
Investigations revealed the attackers had been working with Flying Squad officers.
The unit was established in 1995 following an increase in carjackings and armed robberies in Nairobi.
It then consisted of a handful of officers and was based in Parklands.
As criminals ventured out of the city due to increased police activity, the unit was expanded, with a new headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, adjacent to the police station and another base in Makuyu, Murang’a.
The base location was selected because criminals running away from the city were carjacking vehicles on the Nairobi–Makutano stretch.
Smaller units were later established in other parts of the country.
Currently, the Nairobi base is at the county police headquarters in Milimani and uses the code Alfa.
The current team arose from a tiny team to become one of the elite units of the police mandated to pursue hardened criminals involved in sophisticated crimes.
Police officers attached to crack units stand out in comparison to colleagues from the regular duty.
For instance, they dress in plain clothes and ride in unmarked cars, which are at times fitted with foreign registration number plates.
And while police officers in regular duty are required to maintain a clean shave, those in the Flying Squad often sport baggy trousers, trendy T-shirts, dreadlocked hair and long beards just in case they have to go undercover.
It is not the first time the unit is being overhauled, having been dismantled in 2006 and most of its officers replaced by those from the paramilitary GSU.
In most cases, Flying Squad officers do not appear in court to give evidence since most of their missions are like those of hit squads.
In a majority of the cases, they are not sent to make arrests because their missions involve exchange of fire that often ends in the deaths of suspects.
The Flying Squad borrows its name from an ancient unit in the Metropolitan police in the United Kingdom, where its original officers used horse-drawn carriages.