Project Safety: Unblinking eyes and a police booth provide reassurance to Kalakshetra Colony residents

Published - May 13, 2024 10:50 am IST

The police booth at Beach Road Junction in Kalakshetra Colony

The police booth at Beach Road Junction in Kalakshetra Colony | Photo Credit: PRINCE FREDERICK

The police booth serving areas represented by Kalakshetra Colony Welfare Association (KCWA) stares one in the face. Installed on a major connecting junction (Beach Road, Tiger Varadhachari Road and Arundale Beach Third Street), it is like a teacher perched on an elevated platform that affords a view extending to the last bench. Apart from the physical vantage point, its watchfulness is enhanced digitally. A screen inside the booth displays feeds from 36 surveillance cameras installed across all junctions of Kalakshetra Colony.

“Last year, KCWA planned and executed the CCTV installation project in collaboration with J6 Thiruvanmiyur police,” reveals Ramesh Sundararajan, an executive committee member of KCWA. “The J6 police pitched in with a cache of cameras that were with them, and KCWA added a chunk of new cameras to the initiative.”

Ramesh observes the CCTV cameras also feed the images to a monitoring screen at the J6 police station.

The police booth on the afore-described Beach Road has a dedicated personnel who monitors the images streaming in from various parts of the neighbourhood. Ramesh notes these images would throw an additional searchlight on activities behind parked cars (cars not belonging to residents) on the streets. The patrol team also combs the streets for those using the parked vehicles as cover to open the bottle and slip away untraced, leaving behind empty liquor bottles.

Ramesh observes Kalakshetra Colony has a sizeable senior population and having unblinking eyes at night (by way of the surveillance cameras) is a reassurance. So are the glimpses of khaki at night by way of patrolling and the booth.

He points out that with the help of CCTV surveillance, a bike theft and lifting of a water-motor, in two separate incidents, were cracked.

Integral to a neighbourhood

The booth at Ranga Reddy Garden in Neelankarai 

The booth at Ranga Reddy Garden in Neelankarai 

Residents of Ranga Reddy Garden in Neelankarai have a feeling of satisfaction about the police booth in their locality, one used by law and order police personnel of the J8 Neelankarai police station.

U. Karunanidhi, president of the residents welfare association in RR Garden remarks that the police personnel have their presence felt at the booth a good number of hours in a day. “In the morning, they would be present two to three hours; and in the evening, three-to-four hours.”

The booth displays a mobile number for residents to call on. Fear of trouble can sometimes be more nerve-wracking than real trouble itself. Access to police personnel right at one’s doorstep helps deal with trouble, imagined as well as real.

“When we see hangers-on who raise our suspicion or when we see tipplers drinking in the open, we make a call to the police booth,” says Karunanidhi.

Even if it turns out that these hangers-on are harmless and no trouble-makers, the fact that those in khaki are keeping an eye on strangers would be a deterrent to real trouble-makers who might be lurking around the scene. “The movement of police personnel in our neighbourhood, thanks to the police booth, boosts our morale. It is a confidence builder,” says the RWA president, adding that the Association had assisted the J8 police in setting up this booth.

Karunanidhi reveals the Association is in the process of firming up plans to bring the area under greater CCTV surveillance; and towards this end, they are having conversations with the J8 Neelankarai police.

Karunanidhi adds: “Currently, we have a degree of CCTV surveillance through requests made to residents in the neighbourhood that they also install cameras focussed on the streets.”

When the police booth keeps a light on for you

Police booths are sometimes defined entirely by their physical reality. And not by their intended social purpose. They do not rise above being brick and mortar. Their locks rust from disuse.

Even police booths of this kind — where even the buzz of a fly is not heard — has its place in the safety ecosystem. Its presence is a natural deterrent to crime. A burglar who has not hunkered down to surveying the scene might be unaware the police booth is not in service, and therefore take his “nefarious trade” elsewhere. And a functional police booth with the personnel in khaki scuffing its doormat regularly is a bulwark for the neighbourhood. It is a continuing and powerful deterrent. And when trouble perchance strikes, one knows where to turn to immediately.

Under “Project Safety’, readers can write in to about any functional police booth that has benefited their neighbourhood.

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