Private Security guards will undergo comprehensive vetting by the National Intelligence Service and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations before they are given guns.
Fazul Mohamed, chief executive of the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA), said this on Friday, adding the process will include psychological tests.
There has been concern that the plan by the government to arm guards could backfire as it might lead to the issuing of weapons to questionable characters such as those who are untrained.
Also of concern is that some private firms do not have the capacity to ensure the safety of the arms.
Mr Mohamed explained that the vetting is part of the wider plan to professionalise operations and see private security guards integrated into national security organs to improve coordination between the two sectors.
“The integration of the role of the private security industry into the national security organs is provided for under section 45 of Private Security Regulations Act, 2016,” he pointed out.
The CEO also noted that the weakest link in Kenya’s counterterrorism strategy is the lack of properly equipped guards, unlike the case in the NPS, the NIS and the Kenya Defence Forces.
“We will have comprehensive vetting with national intelligence mechanisms such as the NIS, National Police Service, the DCI and the industry at large,” said Mr Mohamed.
Regarding capacity, the PRSA boss said the authority plans to build it through training focused on counterterrorism and hostile environment awareness, and equipping for duties other than identifying suspicious characters and responding to emergencies such as terror attacks.
“The first point of entry at dusitD2 was where the private security guards were but they could not not do anything. You cannot protect yourself using a rungu against someone with an AK 47 rifle,” he said.
“I believe that if the guards were armed, the loss would have been minimal.”
Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the office complex on 14 Riverside Drive in Nairobi on January 15 and killed 21 people.
Mr Mohamed said the G4S and the Private Security Training Academy are some of the institutions where the training will take place.
He said the agency will soon advertise for the service and that organisations that offer them will need to apply for a licence.
The CEO reiterated that companies whose guards will be given guns must adhere to operational standards set out in the PSRA schedule, which also covers the state of armouries.
“We will put in places measures to know who is doing what kind of training. The Private Security Fidelity Fund will cater for the training,” he said.
The private guards will be deployed to high risk areas such as malls, locations with high human traffic, government buildings and key strategic installations.
Concerning their welfare, Mr Mohamed said it will cover the minimum wage, an overtime allowance, insurance and other benefits.
“We will address their welfare as you cannot give a gun to a guard on an empty stomach,” he said.
“We are not going to wake up one day and decide to give them guns. We are going to make sure they are paid the minimum wage and that their welfare is taken care of before they undergo the vetting.”
By Daily Nation