With corporates pitching in to rebuild police stations, the long arm of the law has become decidedly user-friendly
Citizens have always hesitated to enter a police station, as the buildings are not particularly inviting. The police stations in Bangalore were no different. Their origins must have been humble as they were literal personifications of the "a roof above the head" concept. Nature had also taken its toll over the years. The structures were dull, dreary and had space only for the Inspector, his writer and a few constables. There would be two lock ups, a small store, a run down toilet and a small hall. Many of these were so dilapidated that their roofs were coming down, walls chipping off and floor broken. In these buildings, 80 to 100 men were supposed to work and deliver good service. In fact 80 per cent of the stations had no space for the workers.
Police have a large interface with the people. Yet, if the people are reluctant to go to the police stations, there is a real problem. No amount of advice to deliver good service would help. The environment itself should be changed to welcome people. This is the point from where the rebuilding of police stations took off.Re-building of police stations did not only imply creation of additional space. It was more a conceptualisation of what the people want from a police station and how best to deliver that service. BATF and many architects contributed to the concept. The task revolved round what activities the police stations were engaged in, who the people working there were, how best they could manage their interface with the public and deliver satisfactory service. The plaza concept was incorporated to make the police station more welcoming. To help the public feel comfortable, the fronts of police stations were made at double the height. The open house concept was introduced to facilitate straight forward transaction of work. All men were either given cubicles or necessary furniture according to the requirement. Well-furnished record and storerooms were provided. Good toilets with running water were also provided. Since police stations work round the clock, good rest rooms for men and women are a necessity. Therefore proper rest rooms with bunk beds and toilets were created. Kit boxes were replaced with lockers. Police constables and head constables, who normally did not find any space in the station, were provided a hall and necessary furniture to unwind after a hard day's work. The Inspector had a separate room. The old furniture was replaced with elegant modern furniture.When I appealed to the prominent corporate establishments and others to help us rebuild police stations, emphasising how important it is to have a good police force, they came forward generously. Twenty-five police stations with traffic stations have been rebuilt under this scheme. The scheme has launched by former Chief Minister, S. M. Krishna, in December 2003. Ronald Colaco, rebuilt Frazer Town Police Station at a cost of Rs. 80 lakh. Infosys built Basavanagudi, Tata Consultancy Services Upparpet and GMR Group Jayanagar. Many banks also participated and spent between Rs. 30 to Rs. 80 lakhs.
Once private individuals and establishments made a commitment to re-building police stations, it was a matter of pride for them. They wanted to put their own stamp on the building. They used good material, solid construction, added pretty gardens, compounds and furnished them. Some of these stations have already been occupied. People have noticed a visible change in the attitude of the policemen working in them. People on their part are not put off by the very look of the police station. A long desired change has been achieved. S. MARISWAMY
(The writer was Police Commissioner of Bangalore from May 2, 2003, to June 8, 2005.)