It’s time for forces to take an agent-first approach

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What would be our first reaction if we were asked to approach a “police officer”? Most often, the reaction would be: can’t I approach an officer? An officer is not available? These are just some of the many questions one might ask when approaching a police officer.

The question of importance is not the one above, but why are we opposed to a “police officer”. We can blame the system or their superiors. You can blame the multiple governments since independence or all of us for what we have done with a “police officer”.

Before addressing the question of a “police officer”, let us address the etymology of the word “police officer”. It comes mainly from the Latin word stabuli, which meant “count of the stable” or the officer in charge of guarding the horses of a monarch.

This was then imported by the French as the Connétable or Conestable to form a high-ranking military Constable of France, who was the commander-in-chief of all armed forces until the French Prime Minister, Cardinal Richelieu, abolished the post in 1627.

The word “police officer” then appeared in the UK and some European countries as the lowest rank of police officer. And it was from the British that we adopted our modern police which began with the creation of the Bombay Police in 1669 with a modest force of 500 Bhandari militia.

It is important to note that the British throughout the ages have undergone enormous reforms and it is significant when one reads the website of their police federation which attaches significant value to the “Office of the Constable”. It reads: “Every sworn police officer in England and Wales is a police officer, regardless of rank. It is from the Constable’s Office that each officer draws his powers ”.

Coming back to our modern police services, whether in Mumbai or somewhere far away from Marathawada, do we have a “Constable’s Office”? Are we giving our policeman the importance he deserves? No, it is not the officers who form the backbone of an institution. It is the gendarmerie which forms nearly 94% of the establishment. And this is true for almost all departments.

The gendarmerie forms the crux of what we call the “system”. And if this is true, then what facilities have we given them to operate. On average, a day in the life of a Mumbai police officer begins with waking up at 6 a.m. and leaving for his “office” at 7 a.m.

He reports for work at 8:30 a.m., after which he is assigned his workday, which can range from patrolling and helping to investigations, to nakabandhis or performing court duties. The charter is endless. His ordeal for a day in good times ends at 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. In an emergency, it could easily turn out to be a 16 hour shift.

No one cares about the routine of a police officer, citizens treat them with contempt, and their superiors treat them like numbers. Does this police officer have an office, a tidy office, sufficient fixed and clean drinking water, a clean toilet to use? In most cases, they do not have one and have to rely on various media, which undoubtedly gives way to “corruption”.

About 15 years ago, in a police station in Mumbai, a well-educated police sub-inspector became enraged when we had a conversation about the integrity of a police officer. He took me to a small room inside a dilapidated police station, which served as his office for crime detection.

“Everything in this room is mine. From the almirah, to books, papers and pen. What is the government proposing? We also have to shell out for stationery if we have to set up a charging sheet. And then people call us corrupt. Are we making millions that we put our salaries in filing charge sheets or running police stations? “, He continued, choosing the” System “.

None of this has ever reached the upper echelons of our system. Have we ever wondered if we were going to work in an office where we would have to pay our salary to run the office?

In the remote area of ​​Marathawada, a change is underway in the police with Inspector General of Police KM Mallikarjuna Prasanna adopting the ‘agent first’ approach in the Aurangabad range.

Clean, neat and dynamic police stations, seating arrangement for the police, performance related to incentives, fair distribution of work, IO factories, well-equipped reading room with Wifi and reading resources for children of police personnel, a high-end gym – line equipment is one of the many reforms that have been undertaken. And it is reaping results. A leading management institute needs to study the model which could then be replicated across the country and in various ministries. You cannot change the system, but you can certainly reform the system.

Posted on: Monday Aug 23, 2021 12:36 am IST

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