Discontent is brewing among grassroots-level police personnel over a new set of guidelines for police stations across the Ernakulam range covering Kottayam, Alappuzha, Idukki, and Ernakulam Rural with effect from next month.
The guidelines were issued by the Ernakulam Range DIG Putta Vimaladitya at the monthly crime review meeting held at the Range office on September 19. Among the guidelines that has evoked the stiffest protest was the one regarding rooms in police stations meant for personnel to relax and rest.
The meeting attributed the shabby maintenance of police stations largely to the unregulated expansion of restrooms, which in some police stations occupied about half the entire space. Some restrooms featured more than 10 cots as in a dormitory, had uniforms hung around like in a dormitory, and shoes scattered around. Some stations had been turned into a place of stay where clothes, even innerware, were washed and put up to dry, accused the minutes of the meeting.
The new instructions restricted the number of cots in a restroom to three for men and two for women. “There should not be more than one restroom for men and one for women. In case huge halls are made into restrooms, partition should be done without delay.”
Senior officers were bothered only about the duty of the lower level officials, while they gave scant regard to their welfare, rued police personnel. “Restrooms are supposed to be kept clean by sweepers but often we do it ourselves. In many cases, cots in restrooms of police stations are bought by police personnel by mobilising funds and despite that they are to be taken away now. Cops, especially aged ones, may prefer to take a short nap after late-night patrol before leaving for home to avoid falling victims to or causing accidents. Denying such basic facilities reeks of insensitivity,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
The instruction to be in uniform all the time has also created much heartburn. Station House Officers (SHO) have been asked not to allow uniforms and shoes to be left behind in restrooms. “The police should be encouraged to travel to and from their homes in uniform. If they have inconvenience, they can carry uniform as they deem fit,” read the minutes.
Police personnel felt that being in the uniform or carrying it along all the time was impractical. How about if it is raining or while accompanying a juvenile when cops are supposed to be in civil clothes, they asked.
SHOs and Sub Divisional Police Officers concerned have been asked to ensure compliance with the instructions and physically verify it by September 30 and submit a verification report by October 2.