Why it's hard to be an officer in uniform - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 12 August 2019

Why it's hard to be an officer in uniform

A sudden loud bang followed by the preceding combat vehicle before they are thrown into the air. Then a cloud of dust. This is what agent K. Talam (who asked us to use one name) remembers.

Normally, the whole convoy stops, in case another improvised explosive device (IED) has been placed by al-Shabaab militia.

All the soldiers of the convoy's eight vehicles armed their weapons and directed them towards the bushes of Bulla, in Mandera County.

Talam and the rest of the police were on guard when the highest ranking officer called the regional police commander in distress to inform him that Mandera governor Ali Roba was in danger.

"I remember his words:" I think all the officers in the first Alpha Papa vehicle are fatally injured. "Although I tried to have a brave face, I was shaking with fear, pain, and disgust. thought of my friend Abdi, who was in the vehicle, hoping to have miraculously survived. "


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In a few minutes, the reinforcement has arrived. The dust had settled and it was time for Talam to take steps to have the governor evacuate and clean the area.

"To clean the area is to remove the bodies of the charred policemen. It was now clear that everyone, including my best friend Abdi, had died and that there was no choice but to put their bodies in the other vehicles and take them with them. " he declares.

Although the attack took place on October 7, 2015, Talam says the scene still haunts him.

Under his calm exterior, a man struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was diagnosed only in January of this year. He is currently in treatment.

"The images of that fateful day and many others really fizzled me, and I felt as if a tiny box in my brain was filling with a cocktail of pain, bitterness, anxiety, uncertainty fear, pity and regret.

"Life slowly lost its meaning as I continued to live in Mandera and, little by little, I became an alcoholic," he said, adding that a friend had asked him to seek psychological help.


Talam is one of many members of uniformed forces who suffer from PTSD. However, the circumstances in which they work, as well as society's expectations and perceptions of them, do not allow them to seek help.

The World Health Organization estimates that one in four uniformed forces members suffer from PTSD

In his diary, Behind the Shining Crown, Mr. Julius Kamau, a security risk management professional and PhD student in security sciences and police studies, insists on the silent murderer among police officers. Police work involves an extremely high degree of professional stress.

"Not only are officers facing death and violence in the line of duty, but administrative issues and their relationship with the public are additional stressors.

"But then our police officers are trained to be strong and difficult to handle in any situation that might happen to them. If an officer shows signs of depression, stress or anxiety, he thinks others, or the system, will perceive them as weak or ineffective at work, "he says.


He pointed out that police officers are human beings and are just as likely, if not more, to suffer from mental disorders than the rest of society.

Research indicates that police pressure exposes police officers to the risk of high blood pressure, insomnia, depression and PTSD, which can eventually lead to sociopathic behavior.

The National Alliance for Mental Health says that at least one in four police officers have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives and that the police suicide rate is four times higher than that of firefighters.

"Compared to the general population, law enforcement agencies report significantly higher rates of depression, PTSD, burnout and other anxiety-related mental health issues," says the alliance. .


Psychologist Mary Wahome says that despi

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