Much to their chagrin, they find the devices increased corruption in the ranks

The “Blackberry” boys of the city traffic police have been shown the red signal thanks to increased corruption among the ranks.

These phones were meant to clip the wings of bribe-taking police personnel, and though Blackberrys raked in huge amounts in fines — the police’s revenues in fines doubled — corruption levels too rose. So now the city traffic police are thinking of phasing them out and relying instead on CCTVs and digital cameras to check traffic violations.

Social media’s role

Social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter exposing corrupt practices of traffic police have also prompted this move.

Considering this, the traffic police want to “book cases without human intervention” to make its crackdown on offenders more transparent and accountable. So it’s back to digital cameras and CCTV surveillance. Hitherto, CCTVs were used only for traffic management and not enforcement.

The police are also setting up a ‘video wall’, a gigantic screen to monitor the entire city traffic on a single screen at Traffic Management Centre (TMC).

“We don’t mind if an offender goes scot-free [if he’s not caught] but we don’t want unnecessary fine collection drives that lead to harassment,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M.A. Saleem.

Officials at the traffic automation centre, which manages the city’s traffic and records traffic violation details, said they registered in a week 9,651 traffic violation cases online in August, as against 5,890 received through Blackberry in the same period.

However, there are some ingenious police personnel who continue to pocket extra money outwitting the new initiative. To counter this, the department has set up special squads in mufti to nab them.

Every traffic police station has been told to maintain a diary, where the officers on duty have to mention the amount they are carrying in their pockets before going to the field. The special squads have to verify it and any serious discrepancy will lead to disciplinary action.

Book with numbers

According to a Lokayukta official who was part of a recent raid on traffic cops, apart from unaccounted cash, sleuths found on a constable a diary with hundreds of registration numbers of goods vehicles. The latter confessed they referred to goods vehicles he allowed to ply in a no-entry zone with bribes based on the number of trips. And on the way home, he’d go to the transport companies and extract his price.

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