Research on policing in Africa has provided tremendous insight into how
non-state actors, such as gangs, vigilantes, private security companies, and community
initiatives, increasingly provide security for urban dwellers across the continent. Consequently,
the state has been categorized as one order among many whose authority
is co-constituted through relations with other actors. Drawing on our ethnographic
fieldwork in the past two years, we highlight how the state police dominates security
arrangements in Nairobi and asserts itself not just as one order among many. We show
how, in various policing partnerships between police, private security companies, and
residents’ associations, the state police acts as a coagulating agent of such practices.
In order to elucidate this relationship, we utilize the “junior partner” model from the
criminology literature and expand based on the community policing initiatives that in
Nairobi act as the “eyes, ears, and wheels” of the police.