Weapons do not really matter, but quality of response does

Delhi Police invests heavily in PCR units, but it all boils down to quality of response

There is little or no lack of sophisticated weapons, safety equipment and preparation when Delhi Police personnel go on the offensive against criminals or even while attending to regular PCR calls, say senior officers.

The weapons they are equipped with are equal to or better than that possessed by most criminals in Delhi. “In a city like Delhi, you generally do not need big weapons. Only terrorists are capable of procuring weapons better than what we have. It all boils down to the quality of our response,” says an officer with Delhi Police’s Task Force who does not want to be identified.

The response teams are what Delhi Police heavily invests in. They understand the limitations of PCR vans and strengths of specialised agencies.

Containing on an average of four police personnel, at least two of them experienced, the PCR vans are capable of reaching the spot of crime in their jurisdiction within 12 minutes. “The PCR personnel are armed and every vehicle has anti-riot equipment and first aid kits. They have orders to fire if they sense danger to their life,” says Umesh Kumar, Additional DCP (PCR).

But PCR personnel take little risk and order reinforcements as soon as they sense serious trouble or large crowds. Their duty then becomes to control the mob while the experienced and trained arrivals take on the real problem at hand.

“When summoned, reaction teams are quick. Parallel information is passed on to nearby pickets, beat constables, road patrol motorcycles and others. The PCR personnel are exposed to minimum risks,” says the Task Force officer.

In planned raids, the situation is entirely different. When police receive specific information about the presence of criminals in any area or are planning to conduct a raid, they conduct a thorough research to gauge the strength of the criminals.

When someone passes on specific information to police, they verify it to make sure they are not being led into a trap.

“The strength of the team sent depends on the opposition. For example, we send a very strong team when we learn about the presence of cattle thieves as they are generally armed and do not hesitate to fire,” says K P S Malhotra, ACP with Crime Branch. On an average, the Crime Branch is forced to open fire five times every year, he says.

While dealing with criminals of Mewat for example, a company consisting of 60 personnel is dispatched.

“They have a tendency to fire and attack with stones. If you have lesser men out there, they is serious danger to life,” says the Task Force officer.

Some policemen in these teams are generally equipped with bulletproof jackets. “Each of these police teams generally has five men with bulletproof jackets. They are provided to those who lead or those policemen who break open doors and windows to gain entry,” the officer says.

Despite being well-equipped, police take great precaution while firing.   “We try to use minimum force. We can’t shoot unless directly threatened,” says Malhotra. While police do not complain about the restrictions placed on them while dealing against criminals, they say this puts their life at risk.

“Criminals can ram their vehicle against another, abandon it anywhere or shoot randomly. We, on the other hand, have to observe great caution so that people are safe. We at times allow them to escape even if that means risking our own life,” the Task Force officer adds.

So that they do not miss their targets when challenged, the policemen are sent for frequent training in shooting. “The frequency of training ranges from every two to six months,” says an officer.

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