Excessive force

The Bangalore City Police has transferred 1,735 police constables to different wings and units for the first time in 20 years. The Police Commissioner’s acknowledgment that the exercise was never resorted to in the past two days is shocking. The absence of a transfer policy indicates lack of professionalism as some police constables have served 15 years at a stretch in police stations. This stunts their professional growth and does not make them well-rounded policemen. Moreover, when constables are on extended tenures of duty in a particular police station it creates scope for collusion with criminal elements and fosters a culture of corruption in the force. This is historically linked to political interference in police administration and the culture of corruption that characterises the force.

As much as the  problem affects the constabulary at the bottom of the organisational pyramid it is equally applicable to all levels of the police hierarchy as there is no systematic transfer policy in place for superior officers. For instance, if the Superintendent of Police of a district is transferred out every few months then personnel management and welfare of constables are the first casualties. This is compounded by the fact that inspectors/sub-inspectors, who form a critical link between the constabulary and senior officers, are also not spared the bane of untimely transfers. As a result, there are no institutionalised procedures to grant weekly offs/leave to the constabulary, which amounts to poor leadership. Clearly, for a police force to evolve into a people-friendly professional organisation good leadership is a critical consideration.

In order to initiate personnel management policies, the Karnataka government, in accordance with the Supreme Court directive to states to comply with police reforms, now plans to establish a Police Establishment Board. It will formulate guidelines for transfers, appointments and promotions for police personnel. Considering the armed forces and para-military forces have always had established transfer policies, it is high time the state police forces across the country emulate them. The state police should aim to imbibe the professionalism of the armed forces with an emphasis on more mid-career training programs at all levels. Today, unlike the armed forces which post their best officers to training establishments, the reverse is the case with the state police forces.

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