Kerala Police recalibrate crime-fighting strategy amidst criticism

Published - May 16, 2024 09:12 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

On Thursday, the State police appeared to scramble to ward off political criticism that public confidence in law enforcement had hit an all-time nadir.

State Police Chief Sheikh Darvesh Sahib chaired a meeting of top officers in the wake of mounting criticism that police had dismally failed to do even the bare minimum hapless victims of crime could rightfully expect from station houses.

The meeting reportedly sought to recalibrate the crime-fighting approach by ensuring that habitual offenders and organised criminals were taken off the street and placed in judicial custody while awaiting trial completion.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheeshan had repeatedly attacked law enforcement for dismissing certain crimes, including one involving the victim of domestic violence at Pantheerankavu in Kozhikode, as unimportant or minor. 

He said the police often acted as interlocutors instead of enforcers, mainly when the victim was up against an influential, politically connected and moneyed offender.

A senior official said the Lok Sabha election had increased demands on the police. The Model Code of Conduct forced the police to shuffle officers between far-flung station houses, risking disrupting everyday crime work, including execution of warrants and issuing of summons.

Moreover, the police numbers have not edged up commensurate with the population they serve.

He said the force was anything but dysfunctional. It faced increased demands on them like domestic violence, sexual violence, online crimes, traffic management, maintenance of public order and the pressure to ensure conviction in major crimes.

Nevertheless, a rash of violent crimes perpetrated by habitual offenders who had inexplicably remained off the police radar for long had rendered law enforcement vulnerable to strident criticism.

A senior officer said a younger generation attracted to a delinquent subculture that worshipped gangsterism appeared to have blindsided law enforcement temporarily.

Their social media reels of revelry and daredevilry on motorcycles and cars on busy roads have a sizeable following and a surreal lure that often spawned copycat actions.

Officers said that many first-time offenders they process in police stations were college drops from dysfunctional families who worked for quick money and a fast life by associating with criminals, including loan sharks, drug paddlers and those who profit from environmental crime and protection rackets with scant regard for legal consequences.

Mr. Sahib’s meeting reportedly dwelt on a return to back-to-basic policing as part of law enforcement’s “fixing the broken window“ strategy. 

Neighbourhood policing and beat patrolling often bypassed relatively poor and crime-prone localities. House-to-house visits by local officers have arguably ground to a halt. Local support for preventive and investigative policing had hit a nadir.

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