Tech-driven crime stretched resources

Training of police personnel should focus on values and attitudes as much as knowledge and skills

Another decade has passed with the limited manpower and resources of Karnataka police being stretched to the fullest. It was also a decade when the political class continued to pay lip service and give a few sops to harassed policemen without even a whisper about comprehensive police reforms.

Two big cases

Two sensational murders – of Prof. M.M. Kalburgi in Dharwad and journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru – rocked the State. The police deserve kudos for probing these cases against all odds through diligent and patient investigation. While the duo had been brutally done to death for their ideology, which was unacceptable to the right wing, the murder of the RSS worker Rudresh in the heart of Bengaluru in 2016 came as a shocker. This case was later handed over to the National Investigation Agency.

A rash of rape cases of school children caused widespread outrage, raising many questions over the safety of children in public spaces.

Detection of crime was greatly facilitated by the effective use of crime and criminal database, analysis of mobile phone calls and CCTV footage. But the use of digital technology had its flip side too in that traditional forensic science-based methods of evidence gathering took a back seat.

Major clashes

The ugly lawyer-vs-police confrontation in 2012 in Bengaluru will ever remain a blot on Karnataka. Similarly, the city police did not cover itself with glory either when garment workers went berserk leading to large-scale damage of private and public property.

The police action in 2015 during the anti-Tipu Jayanti agitation in Kodagu, where a Hindu and a Muslim died in a scuffle, gave a grim sense of foreboding of the rapid communal polarisation sweeping the State.

Traffic management

The decision to install cost-effective mannequins at a few intersections by the Bengaluru traffic police is obviously a desperate attempt by the resource-strapped personnel to think out-of-the-box to manage gridlocks. Fixing cameras and strategically shifting the mannequins to different locations might perhaps act as a deterrent. Time alone will tell how far this measure will reduce the chaos on the roads.

Leveraging technology

The Bengaluru police has been in the forefront in the use of various social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and in leveraging technology to the hilt. The decade saw them systematically building on the robust foundation laid earlier in digitising crime records. They expanded the application of technology manifold to various aspects of police functions. Installation of cameras on patrol vehicles in order to capture the area patrolled, which is another significant and heartening step. The Traffic Management Centre in Bengaluru continues to contribute to reduce congestion on our roads.

Impact on morale

Though we experienced political stability between 2013-18, the State was dogged by instability followed by a coalition government. This had an adverse effect on the police administration and morale as the security of tenure of officers, including those belonging to the IPS in executive positions, was given a go-by as they were subject to premature and arbitrary transfers.

The frequent visits of Z and Z+ category VIPs to Bengaluru resulted in heavy deployment of personnel for security duties at the expense of their normal functions.

The above developments coupled with tardiness in embracing community policing and the gradual emasculation of leadership seriously impacted the grassroot level policing, adversely affecting citizen-centric functions such as beat service, prevention and investigation of crime.

Looking ahead

The next decade is going to be even more challenging. Experts should examine the effects of globalisation on the nature of crime and understand its trends so that police is forewarned. Ensuring safety of public space for women and children will be a recurring theme. The police has to gird up its loins, intensify its gender sensitisation programme and cover more personnel. Special attention must be paid to utilisation of Nirbhaya funds, which was a mere ₹ 13.6 crore out of the ₹ 191 crore allotted.

Police should be ready with innovative proposals and schemes so that the modernisation grants of the government of India are optimally utilised. They will have to focus their attention on organised crime. Drug-related crimes, white collar offences, such as the IMA scam, money laundering and human trafficking are going to test their capabilities. The number of cyber crimes is going to increase by leaps and bounds.

Police will have to be watchful of political agitations and religious tensions. The fallout of the CAA and the NRC, if implemented, is bound to cause enormous stress and strain besides overburdening the police. Although the State was relatively free from extreme-Left wing terror or other terrorist incidents, eternal police vigil and preparedness will be crucial. Police training should focus on values and attitudes as much as knowledge and skills.

The government should fill up the 22,000-odd vacancies in the State and augment the strength of women personnel, which is a meagre 6.11% of the total strength.

It is hoped that the next decade will see public intellectuals, opinion makers, media and civic activists vociferously demanding police reforms in Karnataka, as the nearly one crore tax-paying citizens of Bengaluru deserve better.

(S.T. Ramesh is a former Director General and Inspector General of Police, Karnataka)

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 11:16:56 AM |

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