Stay safe during elections

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At the polling station, be calm and do not talk carelessly about any candidate or the election process. You may be conceived to be an agent of the opposing candidates and this may trigger a fight.

By PATRICK NKUNGA

Crime is a complex event and can be described by the five dimensions of law: offender, target/ victim, place and time of the incident. This is according to Paul and Patricia Brantingham in their book Environmental Criminology. These five components are a necessary and sufficient condition, for without one, the other four, even together, will not constitute a criminal incident.

Crimes rates vary with seasons, but are known to increase during elections across the world. Elections, because of their nature, attract interest from many quarters. There are the individuals who want to accomplish anticipated life goals, organisations that want to secure business links with politicians, human rights bodies whose duty is to protect people’s welfare and dignity, financiers and sponsors who want to protect their policies and even criminals whose interest is to take advantage of the ensuing confusion.

Due to these dynamics, it is prudent for individuals to ensure safety in their homes and for organisations to put stringent measures to secure both tangible and intangible assets.

The following security tips will help improve safety to both individuals and organisations during the electioneering period:

INDIVIDUAL SECURITY

1. Avoid routine.

Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson, sociology professors, pointed out that most crimes are committed by people who are familiar to the victim`s routine. These people can monitor one’s movements, mark exit routes, know when to commit the crime and how to conceal evidence.

2. Refrain from wearing political campaign uniforms in public.

Campaign uniforms will attract attention of opposing party members, who may be irritated. Keep off these attires, especially when travelling to regions mostly occupied by opposing party members.

3. Plan to be home early.

Criminal groups take advantage of campaign periods to mug, rob or kidnap. During the election period, wrap up all you have to do early. Most crimes are committed at night.

4. Be vigilant and monitor your social joints.

Being vigilant is a critical security tool; it’s one of the ways to be a security-conscious person. Ascertain you are safe before joining friends in social joints. One of the ways to comfortably do this is by listening to the news always and communicating with friends.

5. After voting, go straight home.

One of the ways to stay secure during elections is by returning home after casting your vote. Staying back or loitering with other supporters after casting your vote may be injurious.

6. Stay away from crowded areas.

Crowded areas are a target by both criminals and terrorists, who look for numbers. Do not associate yourself with an undefined crowd that takes delight in analysing political issues and candidates in public.

7. Reduce family outings and stock your home with food.

This is a period that enforces the stay at home order. It is vital to store up in the house all the foodstuff and ingredients needed to avoid incessant outings to the markets and malls.

8. Ensure your vehicle is well serviced.

Before driving your vehicle, ensure it is well serviced by a reputable mechanic and tested to confirm dependability. Do not forget to confirm pressure in your spare wheel and to check the lights, brakes and fuel.

9. Keep your medical doctor’s details.

Have a medic’s details handy so that you can call whenever you need medical advice.

HOW TO SECURE BUSINESS PREMISES

People play a key role in the survival of any institution. Ruining the human resource could collapse a whole organisation. During elections, there are several activities that pose danger to employees.

These range from rowdy crowds or hooligans who mostly walk around singing in praise of their preferred candidate but in libel to competitors.

These crowds comprise of people with different characters, some with criminal intent to fleece motorists, pedestrians, shoppers, or even businesses.

Security departments, in liaison with the management, need to implement the following measures:

1.Install reliable surveillance system and encourage use of staff badges.

Have a surveillance program installed, like a CCTV or a biometric system at entry points to confirm that only authorised persons access premises. When people with criminal intent see the security system in place, they get deterred.

2.Do not keep too much cash around.

Cash collected should be deposited frequently in the bank. Only a little should be left in the drawer or safe. Staff without knowing could share this information with criminals who in return could stage a break-in when everyone is out to vote.

3. Insurance.

Ensure all capital assets are insured against political violence.

4. Establish a security committee and plan for few months` financial reserve for emergency.

Establish a workable security committee to keep abreast on what is happening during the campaign period and establish a communication channel reachable by all employees.

5. Employees should, if possible, walk in twos.

There is safety in numbers. Encourage staff to avoid walking alone, especially in isolated areas.

6. Conduct background checks.

If you are looking to employ some team members, you have to ensure that you run a proper background check. This may reveal crucial leads that may avert an intended terrorist mission in your organisation, especially during campaign confusion.

7. Ensure offices are well lit.

Thieves thrive in poorly lit areas and employees might feel unsafe. You may also want to consider some energy saving bulbs.

8. Report suspicious moves.

Employees should report any suspicious character to the relevant authority.

9. Do not allow suspicious gatherings.

Bar all political discussions in your organisation as these may lead to rivalry among employees.

10. Ensure all fire equipment are serviced and functional.

11. Plan to close all offices during the election period.

Finally on election day, ensure you conduct yourself in a gentle way. Be aware that party supporters are vigilant and paid to keep tally for their candidates and may get violent when aggrieved, and mostly because they could be under the influence of some substances.

At the polling station, be calm and do not talk carelessly about any candidate or the election process. You may be conceived to be an agent of the opposing candidates and this may trigger a fight.

After elections results are out, and in the event your candidate wins, celebrate in a civil manner. Remember, the losing parties are not happy. After all, they all expected to win after spending a fortune. This could be an avenue to release their anger.

Be watchful and preach peace. Let’s all be our brother`s keeper. Elections will come and go, but we remain friends and Kenyans.

Photo Credit: slbavocats.ch 

Patrick Nkunga is the Head of Security & Transport at the Kenya Institute of Management

Email: Nkungap@gmail.com

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