Susan Shivu visited the Koramangala police station recently to file a complaint after she lost her purse containing cash and ornaments. While waiting there, she was surprised to see a library in the police station with racks brimming with books. Ms. Shivu spent her waiting time reading books and newspapers.
The police, on November 1, which is also celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava, opened a library as part of their community-outreach initiative to make police stations more citizen-friendly and welcoming. The initiative is the brainchild of C.K. Baba, DCP (South East), who started the libraries in five police stations in his jurisdiction: Hulimavu, Koramangala, Electronics City, Mico Layout, and HSR Layout. Plans are afoot to start them in another 9 stations under his jurisdiction.
Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Shivu said, “This is a very good initiative that the police have taken up. By setting up the library, police are respecting the people and their time when we are here to file complaints and waiting for other procedures.”
Bridge gap between public and police
The police have subscribed to various Kannada and English newspapers and magazines. They have also crowdsourced books from residents of the area, thereby enabling community outreach. The police themselves have contributed books from their personal collections.
“The idea behind the library initiative is to ensure that we bridge the gap between the public and the police. As you all are aware, entry to the police station comes with a certain level of anxiety or fear among the people. Whenever we meet the public, we hear from them that there is a certain level of reluctance to visit police stations. Hence, to ensure that this fear goes away from people’s minds, we decided to make our police stations a friendly place to visit. To make it possible, we have set up the library,” Mr. Baba explained.
The library is accessible to anyone who is interested in reading, and the department is also in touch with non-government organisations and senior citizens to donate books to share knowledge. At each police station, police have put up book racks along with chairs and a reading table at the entrance.
Joejegathesh, another resident of the area, said, “When I heard about a library in a police station, I was really wondering how it is possible. I think the concept of a library in a police station makes the police station citizen-friendly and this initiative is a model to be implemented across the state and country.”
Reading habit among police personnel
Apart from the general public, the police personnel can also read books whenever they are free, which, according to Mr. Baba, develops reading habits among the police personnel.
“Our police personnel are also developing a habit to pick up reading after the library is set up and it is one of the best ways to de-stress amidst their hectic work at the police stations. Our personnel will also improve their vocabulary from reading books,” Mr Baba said.
Mr. Baba also feels that this initiative would also help the department to erase the negative image associated with visiting a police station.
The library initiative is also part of the “Hello Neighbour” campaign, which aims to help the beat police build a rapport with the residents, launched a few years ago.
On the shelves are a mix of fiction, non-fiction and spiritual books written by Kannada popular writers such as Kuvempu, Da Ra Bendre, Maasti Venkatesh Iyengar and other popular Kannada writers along with historical books on Karnataka. These libraries in four police stations contain 500 to 1,000 books, according to police officials.