Many ‘likes’ for the exclusive Grand Bazaar police station Facebook account

By its very free-form nature, social media are hardly likely to be ‘favourited’ or churn out ‘likes’ from those who wield the powers of the State. More often than not, the relationship is adversarial than amicable.

Of late, though, it looks like some police officers in the city are warming up to social media, especially Facebook, in a big way.

Recently, we had beat policemen, who came across a wallet, log on to the FB to establish contact and return the article to its owner.

After sending him a photocopy of his licence found in his wallet through a Facebook message, they asked him to collect the wallet from the station. Similarly they posted a photo of stolen jewellery worth 92 gold sovereigns which was seized from the accused and shortly the owners contacted the station.

Now, it is the Grand Bazaar Police Station that looks like going the whole hog when it comes to embracing social media to stay connected with the community.

Interestingly, this is a case of one of the oldest police stations in the Union Territory, housed in a heritage building in a bustling neighbourhood, emerging through legacy patrolling — on foot, cycles and later jeeps and motorcycles — to take the plunge into the new age.

The station’s workload is among the highest for any station in this city, handling around 400 complaints that range from petty crimes to offences most foul.

On any given day, there is enough happening to keep the policemen on their toes. Now, the very same people are discovering the immense benefits of lean-forward technology in easing their load and yet get closer to the people they serve.

Two weeks ago, the Station House Officer created an account in Facebook for the station exclusively and since then day-to-day activities in the station have been communicated to the public in a series of posts.

The new initiative has received tremendous positive feedback from the public. But, then who can escape trolls whose tribe wanted to know whether policemen had become too lethargic to get off their seats to investigate crimes!

C.P. Sajit, Station House Officer, who is an active proponent of social media tools for improved policing, says that such platforms are useful in tracking crimes as well as raising efficiency of the police force.

“We only hope that the public would appreciate what we are trying to do,” he said.

In fact, the Station House Officer here uses a smart phone to monitor the live-streaming of what is happening in his station by remote links to a cluster of closed circuit camera television cameras fixed in all corners of the station.

At the Grand Bazaar station, the seniors and juniors alike are encouraged and trained to use the social media network effectively.

The personnel also post snippets and photos of celebrations such as someone’s birthday or the superannuation day of any police personnel and the posts invariably generate online bonhomie.

Not every improvement at this station has to do with its online profile. Sensitive to the needs of the scores of visitors and even to those passing by, policemen have installed a drinking water can.

Police personnel at the station say they need to change around 10 cans on weekdays and almost 15 cans on Sundays.

In fact, the huge crowds that throng the Sunday market nearby have welcomed the move most, said police personnel.

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