Linda Okello Reveals How Viral Photo Turned Her Life Upside Down

Linda Okello Reveals How Viral Photo Turned Her Life Upside Down
Linda Okello Reveals How Viral Photo Turned Her Life Upside Down

Linda Okello, a former traffic police officer who became famous after a photo of her in police uniform went viral in 2014, has opened up on how the incident turned her life upside down.

Now a behaviour therapist based in the US, Linda recalls how the unsolicited attention and fame brought trouble to her doorstep as she became one of the most searched people on Google.

“I worked with the police force for 16 years before quitting and silently leaving the country for the United States of America. I never intended to be a police officer, I wanted to be an air hostess that was my dream job, I can say it was not my desired job but I got to love it along the way,” she told Citizen Digital.

According to Linda, on the day the famous photo was taken she was on duty and on the phone with her boss receiving instructions on how to effectively coordinate the Safari Rally event she had been assigned.

“I did not know that the photo was taken, when I found out I was so overwhelmed. I received a lot of phone calls, my bosses read about it and I was summoned for possible punishment on the grounds that I was scantily dressed. I was accused of not wearing a police uniform, it was deemed that I had done something that is against the police code and you actually get someone to defend me,” she said.

After the investigation, they concluded that she was not inappropriately dressed for work.

“I had been wearing it for seven years, my bosses saw me in that skirt before. They saw me in that uniform in the morning during the debrief before going for that assignment. I was frustrated by my bosses because of the photo, they thought I was talking to the media but that was not the case because I rejected all the media interviews,” she explained.

Linda says she was transferred to Molo soon after, a decision she embraced since she was expected to work anywhere in the country.

“When I was transferred to Molo, it was published everywhere and my information was leaked, it was so specific even the duties I was assigned. People in Molo would come looking for me to see this Linda and her body, it followed me everywhere,” she said.

“I felt let down especially by my fellow women, if they could have protected me, it could not have gotten that far.  Remember I was in traffic and every time I would stop a vehicle, I would hear whispers which was very uncomfortable and made my job a bit difficult,” Linda recalls.

Thereafter, silently disappeared. She believes the photo changed how people perceived her, and her career.  According to her, this affected the future of her career in the police force.

“I was promoted when I was really young, five years in the service then I was pulled down suddenly, I tried to apply for promotions unsuccessfully, I felt frustrated and I decided to look for greener pastures abroad I am going to well and I am happy about myself,” she said

The ex- cop sued a local media house for publishing the photo in 2014 and was awarded KSH 6.5 million in damages. She accused the media house of improperly degrading her by the improper sharing of her image and likeness and the use of her image for commercial gain and or publicity.

“People saw me as a sex object, even my bosses started seeing me as a socialite. I was not given the opportunity to defend myself or share the implication of the action and that’s why I went to court,” she said.

“I was so happy with the judgement, I suffered emotionally and my career was affected. I felt like I was never protected.  I was pushed into the limelight, bullied and no one asked me how was doing I felt like justice was done.”

The former cop joined the police force in May 2003, carrying out general duties in Kisii after training at Kiganjo Police College.

She was promoted to the rank of corporal in 2008 and later joined the Traffic Department in 2009 and was posted to Kiambu.

By Ann Nyathira



Linda Okello Reveals How Viral Photo Turned Her Life Upside Down

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