To my young colleagues

To


By OP Singh Police in India needs to set its quality human resources after desperate criminals. The controversial broken-window strategy will not work here, given country’s undermanned enforcement agencies and poor standard of voluntary compliance to law. To identify those posing maximum threat to people’s sense of security, it needs to map previous property offenders and ascribe them scores on variables like age, affiliation to gangs, propensity for violence, number of offence committed and dependence on crime proceeds. It needs to commit ten to twenty percent of its posted strength to take on those scoring high on this demerit list. People expect you to control crime so that they can breathe easy and sleep well. Interestingly, they want you to be fearless like tiger, quick like lightening, selfless like Mother Teresa and submissive like slaves, all at the same time. So, the challenge is humongous. Crime-control is essentially elimination ofdeception and violence in individual and group transactions. Sense of security as felt by the people is subjective and fleeting. It is as fickle as people’s current belief about your score on the board in your ever-raging bouts with offenders. Peopleis a transient and heterogeneous entity. Your approach to them depends on which side of law they happen to be at a given point of time and whether they have the heft to hoodwink you. For operational convenience, you may safely assume that ninety percent of people don’t want to do anything with you. They just wish that when in need, you won’t add further to their woes. You need to soothe them with strategic police presence, prompt service delivery and effective communication. Seven to eight percent are situationally driven to crime, most of the time not knowing that it would only further aggravate and perpetuate their miseries. Better, find a way to reclaim them. It is not an act of charity. It is an operational necessity to keep the number of offenders manageable. No law enforcement agency can succeed in a majority offender situation. Two-three percent of people choose consciously to be outlaw. To them, it’s a high-risk-quick-money venture. Just get after them. Map violent property offenders of ten years on variables like age, affiliation to gangs, propensity for violence, number of offence committed and dependence on crime proceeds. Commit ten to twenty percent of your posted strength to heighten their operational difficulties. Checkmating them is important for your career. They are the ones who can strike at will and erode your credibility as an effective police officer. They, not you, become role models and talk-of-the-town. Delivering sense of security is not limited to effective crime control. A big thorn in the flesh is the entertainment sector. Even you are not immune to it. It unabashedly glorifies violence. Hypercritical mass media and unbridled message-sharing platforms have further added fuel to the fire. Together, they have created an echo-chamber where even well-meaning people cry for instant brutal reprisals for acts of violence. Resist being encounter-specialist. It is a medieval tactics that has been discarded long back for being ineffective. It would make your unit hostage to the elements who may turn out to be even worse than the malcontents they pose to fight. It is only a matter of time. You don’t have unlimited resource to meet people’s romanticised and often exaggerated expectations. With multiple entry levels, your unit has a split organisational personality. Educated and articulate at the top, it gets increasingly ethnic and foul-mouthed as you reach the other end. Teach them to be like you, not the other way round. You have uncertain tenures. Hit the deck running, work through volatility, marshal meagre resources and take control of the situation in no time. And do resist being clones of fictitious movie characters. They are not real. Nor helpful. Forget that you will get additional budget or manpower. Or your men will master new skills. Your best chance is your ability to devise revenue and retraining-neutral problem-solving models. You will have complete project ownership and zero gestation period! For example, visible police presence is key to sense of security that people feel at any point of time. Instead of doing it all by yourself, host listening sessions with community leaders and vulnerable sections, inviting their opinion on how best to deploy available police resources that would give them maximum sense of security. Along with crime hotspot analysis, work out a more assuring preventive police deployment plan. This collaborative decision-making can be extended to other areas of police work too, giving people a sense of participation in how their place is being policed. Disgruntled complainants going around with their tale of woes hurt your standing a great deal. Anyone who reaches out to you with complaint of police inaction, tell your station house officer to call them and take either of three action in a week’s time frame - register a case if it is about a cognisable offence, re-route if itconcerns other departments and file it if it is false. Failing, tell them to appear before you with the complainant. Believe me, it works like magic - reversal of power equation at the cutting edge, saving a disgruntled soul from a humiliating downward journey. People have a vast appetite for police stories. They are curious about what you are doing to keep them safe. The ongoing narrative mimics Tom & Jerry cartoon show - nimble criminals giving tardy policemen torrid times. Reinvent your communication strategy. Tell the people how hard and successfully your unit is working, you are doing it because you care so much for them and how tough the criminals are having it. Economic offences and cyber crimes have gone through the roof in recent years. You need to commit a good number of your posted strength to catch up with this new breed of criminals, looting people at will from remote and, most often, untraceable locations. Rebrand your beat officers as family police officers. Very much like family lawyers and doctors. Tell them to visit families of their beats with prior appointments and advise them on safety matters. Task them to home-deliver challans, copies of FIRs and verification reports. It would endear them to communities like nothing else. Above all, think what is your signature contribution now and what is going to be your enduring legacy when you will one day hang your boots. As they say, journey of a thousand mile starts with the first step. Which one is yours? / DAILY WORLD / (OP Singh is the Commissioner of Police, Faridabad. Views expressed are personal.)




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