Effectiveness Of Social Media In Community Policing In Kenya: A Case Of Lanet Nakuru North District, Nakuru County, Kenya

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Background Information

In the past few decades, the police have transformed from a police force to a police-oriented organization. Many police departments around the world now implement community policing to overcome the inherent shortcomings of a purely passive policing approach. Police rely heavily on public recognition to maintain their legitimacy and need to persuade the public to seek their consent to receive law and order. Personal safety and property safety are widely regarded as fundamental human rights and are critical to the overall quality of life of the community (Omanga,2015). Over the past three decades, community police work has evolved as police and community leaders have sought more effective ways to promote public safety and improve the quality in communities.

The main objective of this study is to examine how Twitter has been used by Chief Francis Kariuki in Nakuru North District, Kenya, as a tool to promote community policing. Popularly known as ‘Chief Kariuki’ on Twitter, he is a civil servant of the Kenyan government (GoK) and has been head of the Lanet Umoja region since 2010. He is responsible for the administrative management of government, public and private affairs in Lanet Umoja with over thirty thousand residents (30,000). It offers a structured security system for the people living at the location and also facilitates the mediation and settlement of disputes in various functions at the location.

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Before implementing Twitter policing in Lanet Umoja, the site was like any other. High crime rates and alarming uncertainty concerns were common at the time. Since Chief Kariuki introduced the concept in 2011, crime and insecurity have decreased enormously. In the town, the mobilization, commitment and empowerment of the population in terms of leadership has also improved. He uses an inexpensive way to communicate with the residents of Lanet Umoja and other areas in the Nakuru North district. He uses the short message service (SmS) to reach over a hundred thousand (100,000) people who are not registered users of Twitter or have no access to a smart phone (Dwyer,2019). The chief has over 36,000 followers (36,500) on Twitter. He started a revolution by introducing the code number ‘8988’ from a local mobile company – Safaricom – to send and receive alarm text messages directly from his cell phone.

Anyone with a mobile phone and not necessarily a smartphone can subscribe to this service to receive the notifications sent by the chief. All you have to do is send the text ‘Follow Chiefkariuki’ to code 8988 from any cell phone and they you will be connected immediately. Once the connection is established, alerts from Chief Kariuki’s tweets can be sent and received.

In the event of a threat of insecurity, individuals notify the chief, who then sends a tweet that notifies the people via SMS. Members of the public then turn up in large numbers to thwart robberies or offer help in emergency situations. It is a very effective way to involve the public in community policing.

In addition, people can sell and advertise their goods and services by sending an SMS to the chief, who in turn sends them to the public, who may be interested in buying or selling those goods or services. This is a technological revolution that puts the security and socio-economic stability of the community in the hands of the people.

Community policing (CP) has grown rapidly in popularity in Kenya since its inception in 2005. In particular, it has helped to reduce crime and has proven to be a police style that responds to community needs and a force multiplier that contributes to conflict resolution (Kenya Police Report 2006). Progress has been made in some pilot locations where CP programs have started. A brochure published by Safeworld in 2008 found that the most notable achievement was the improvement in security that was registered by police and local residents at these pilot locations. In the brochure entitled ‘Implementing Community Policing in Kenya’, the CP approach to combating insecurity has resulted in a crime rate reduction of up to 40%. This is underpinned by increased trust between police officers and residents and increased police accountability to the participating communities.

According to Chief Kariuki’s blog, Twitter policing includes the use of social media technology to reduce crime, crime prevention tips, community crime monitoring, neighborhood surveillance and crime reporting activities, and change of Community crimes or dangers, as well as reporting incidents of loss of life or property, animals searching and rescuing lost children and the elderly, reporting disasters (fire), preventing and combating illegal breweries and local drug trafficking, jointly strengthening the community, which is an opportunities for capacity building and community mobilization. Chief Kariuki’s case will examine how Twitter is used as a tool to promote community-based policing and whether the tool has been effective in implementing CP strategies (Dwyer,2019).

Statement of the problem

Despite the increasing popularity of using social media to carry out community-based policing, there are no mechanisms to determine whether social media communication is effective in promoting community policing. In addition, not many have adopted Twitter as a tool for CP (Skilling,2016). The purpose of this study is to examine how Chief Kariuki has used this tool in his area of ​​responsibility and how effective it has been.

Research Objectives

  1. Investigating the use of Twitter as a tool for the community police in Lanet Umoja, Nakuru Kenya.
  2. To determine how effective the tool (Twitter) is in implementing community surveillance strategies in the Lanet Umoja region
  3. Proposal to use social media technology for nationwide communication and implementation of community-based police strategies

Research Questions

  1. What role has the use of Twitter played as a tool for community policing in Lanet Umoja, Nakuru?
  2. How effective has Twitter been as a tool in implementing community surveillance strategies in Lanet Umoja region?
  3. How can social media technology be used to implement nationwide community surveillance strategies?

Assumptions of the Study

The three assumptions of the study are:

  1. The effectiveness of the partnership between the police and the community was determined by the community police in Lanet Umoja.
  2. In Lanet Umoja, the effectiveness of crime prevention strategies in the community was determined.
  3. The effectiveness of solutions was analyzed in community policing in Lanet Umoja

Limitation of the study

Respondents felt that they would benefit directly from the financial support for participating in the study. This was done in a professional manner by building good relationships and trust with respondents and telling them that the study was for academic purposes only. Respondents believed that if they disclosed secret information, they would be at risk of social damage to the community. This was addressed by convincing respondents of their security and confidentiality of the information they shared. It was also challenging to collect information from security forces in Lanet which was made possible through building a good relationship with the police and informing them the research was purely academic.

Justification and Significance of the study

Due to the complexity of the community policing, evaluations have provided limited evidence of success or failure. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Justice suggests that proof of effectiveness has been largely anecdotal. The measurement tends to focus on traditional indicators such as crime statistics, although the goals may be more specific than reducing crime.

Many of the US community surveillance strategy evaluations have been criticized for failing to determine whether the practices were effective. One of the difficulties is that the vague definition of success has also hindered the effectiveness of community surveillance strategies. Furthermore, the lack of a specific definition of the municipal police leaves the interpretation open (Mastrofski, 1998). Cordner (1999) argues that ‘it is difficult to say whether’ it ‘works because community policing is not a single’ thing ‘. Harvey (2005) also suggests that there is limited evidence of effectiveness, as community policing is very different in both intent and practice. In addition, the effectiveness of the community policing can be influenced by other factors, such as organizational, operational and personality factors.

Although the effectiveness of police practice in the community has not been clearly documented, it is generally believed that it can have a positive impact on community attitudes such as fear of crime and neighborhood satisfaction. However, the community must have community police practice for it to be effective. Community policing requires long-term engagement; Harvey (2005) believes that a number of techniques must be used to maintain this community engagement. These include:

Community meetings and working in partnership with local groups; Involvement of other agencies in partnerships to carry out crime prevention activities; Share problem solving; and delegating responsibility for crime prevention from district commanders to individual officials (Mutahi & Kimari,2017)..

To measure effectiveness, assessments should take into account organizational support and structures in place for community police strategies, police attitudes and job satisfaction. Cordner and Biebel Perkins (2005) suggest that effectiveness should be measured at least through meetings and contacts (process) and public fear of crime (impact).

Hypothesis of the study

Twitter is an effective tool for promoting community police, as used by Administration chief Francis Kariuki in Lanet Umoja, Nakuru North District, Kenya.

Scope of the study

The use of Twitter by chief Francis Kariuki as a tool to promote community policing, the study focuses on how sharing news via Twitter to community members has promoted community policing in the Lanet Umoja region. The study examines how this tool has improved crime and security conditions in the area to determine how effective the tool is.


  1. Dwyer, M. (2019). Reimagining police engagement? Kenya National Police Service on social media. Policing and Society, 1-17.
  2. Mutahi, P., & Kimari, B. (2017). The impact of social media and digital technology on electoral violence in Kenya. IDS.
  3. Omanga, D. (2015). ‘Chieftaincy’in the social media space: Community policing in a twitter convened baraza. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 4(1).
  4. Skilling, L. (2016). Community policing in Kenya: The application of democratic policing principles. The Police Journal, 89(1), 3-17.


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