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Dr. Resila Onyango Biography: Breaks 115 Year Record By Becoming first Female Police With PhD

By Kamau Kuria

Dr Resila A. Onyango, PhD, has shattered the glass ceiling  and the long held notion that police officers are uneducated by becoming the first female police officer to earn a Doctorate degree in the history of the National Police Service (NPS) after 115 years. She has challenged women not to shy away from what many perceive as male-dominated fields saying, “Girls should not shy away from joining the National Police Service as the service offers various opportunities for female officers.”

In this article we will look at Dr. Resila’s Age, Education, Awards, Career & Personal Life.

Age and Place of Birth

Dr. Resila is a Kenya citizen by birth. She was born in Ugenya, Siaya county in the western part of the country. However details about her year of birth are not currently available in the public domain. 


Dr. Resila attended Ogeya Primary School, located in Ugenya in Siaya county along the Uyundo – Bar Achuth Road. After successfully completing her primary school education, she joined St. Mary’s Lwak Girls’ School located in West Asembo location, Rarieda Sub-County, Siaya County in Kenya. Later, Dr. Resila was admitted at Moi University to pursue her first Bachelor of Education (Arts) degree.

The now Ivy League graduate earned her PhD and MPhil in Criminal Justice at The City University of New York (CUNY) from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2013. To add to her list of academic achievements, Dr. Onyango is a recipient of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, which led to her earning a Masters of Science degree in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania in the US. 


Shortly after earning her first degree, she kicked off her career by joining the National Police Service in 2003 for her initial police training at the Kenya Police College Kiganjo in 2003. Here, Dr. Resila portrayed stellar results emerging as the Best Overall Female Recruit which led to her being awarded with the Cane of Honor award by the former President Mwai Kibaki. Dr Onyango has served at the National Police Service’s Public Relations Office at the Kenya Police Headquarters in NairobI, Rift Valley region and at the National Police Senior Staff College located in Loresho.

Dr Resila has been a Criminal Justice lecturer both at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the USA and in Kenya at the United States International University (USIU). From time to time, she is invited as a guest speaker in Drexel University, USA owing to her expertise in Criminal Justice. 

Also Read: Payslip-Salaries Of Graduate Kenya Police Officers And Their Total Number

She has also served at the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) as a Criminal Intelligence Officer, a position she left in August 2021. She is a decorated military observer who acquired her training  in Finland At the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre and a highly trained Sex Crimes Investigator by the International Law Enforcement Academy in Botswana.

With over 18 years of policing career, Dr. Onyango is currently the Deputy Director of Planning at the Office of the Inspector General of Police in Kenya.

Dr. Resila’s Academic research and Publications

The National Police Service in a congratulatory statement described Dr. Resila’s academic research work saying, “Under the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) and the Peace Operations Training Institute, Dr Resila has carved a niche as a Certified and dependable Regional Facilitator for the ‘Integrated Mission Planning Course,’ a curriculum designed for the Military, Police and Civilian components… Her academic research work has focused more on Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice, Gender Issues in Policing and Peace Support Operations, Crimes against Children, and Terrorism within East Africa,” read the statement. 

A great example of her insightful work is “Process Evaluation of Terrorism Amnesty and Reintegration.”

Also Read: Dr. Patricia Kingori Biography: Kenyan Makes History As Youngest Black Professor At Oxford University

International Awards

Dr. Resila has bagged a number of international awards including the PEO International Peace Scholarship and the Margaret McNamara Education Grant in the year 2016, a Doctoral Fellowship at The Graduate Center-CUNY between the years 2013 and 2018, Dr. James Fyfe Fellowship in 2016 and the previously mentioned Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program from 2009 to 2010.


She was named the National Police Service spokesperson, becoming the second woman to hold the coveted position. She takes over from Bruno Shioso who has been promoted to Commandant of the National Police Training Campus in Kiganjo.