The city police commissioner’s office in Egmore that is being vacated was, for long, a bungalow in a paddy field.
According to historians, the property was bought by Arunagiri Mudaliar for Rs. 36,000. On May 1, 1842, the police moved into the bungalow from their headquarters in Vepery for a monthly rent of Rs. 165.
“In 1856, when Lt. Col. J.C. Boulderson, 35 regiment of Native infantry, took charge as the first police commissioner of Chennai, the land and bungalow were purchased by the police for Rs. 21,000 and till date, the office is situated on the same land,” said historian V. Sriram. “The building is a classic colonial bungalow with two storeys. It has Doric columns with Madras terrace.”
After 170 years, the police are all set to move lock, stock and barrel to the same locality — Vepery — where they were headquartered earlier.
A close study of the building’s history raises certain questions. “There is another building on Police Commissioner Office Road which houses the police photographer’s department currently. It has a circular plaque with the inscription — Colonel W.S. Drever CSI Commissioner of Police, R.F. Chisholm, architect. The year inscribed on the plaque is 1882,” said Mr. Sriram. Why and when did the office move from Pantheon Road to Police Commissioner Office Road and then back, he wondered.
The current move to Vepery seems to have left senior police officers with a heavy heart.
“Ours is a very old police force that has been functioning from this building for over a century. This is like second home for many of us,” said a senior police officer.
The commissioner’s office on Pantheon Road will be temporarily used as the offices of the joint commissioner of police (east), deputy commissioner (security), armed reserve administration office and a few other wings of the police.
After these sections are shifted to the new building, the commissioner office in Egmore may be converted into a police museum.