Smart policing the key

Smart policing the key

Police personnel are often poorly trained and equipped to combat even ordinary crimes. How can they meet terrorist challenges? 

You don’t need to arm every policeman with AK-47 rifles. Not even five percent of the policemen need to handle these. It needs specialised training. But they may require different weapons to suit different situations. VIP security, for instance, will require smaller weapons that are effective and lethal. 

But weapons and modern gadgets should be accompanied by training. Even for very basic training, we don’t have the infrastructure. In Channapatna Police Training school, 400 to 500 personnel are trained in one go. What personal attention will they get? We also need good trainers at various levels. Training to handle terrorists is at a higher level. You just cannot put everything in one basket and say training. 
Smart policing at the local beat level is key to reporting, evidence gathering and investigating a terror attack. Why are our police stations so inadequate?Police stations are the basic units, they are the fulcrum. You need to strengthen them in all respects, resources, all kinds of training.

Ninety per cent of the work is done in police stations. Intelligence is available only in police stations. So you have to strengthen their intelligence machinery. Their mobility, their communication, their empowerment. 

Where does the man go when a crime takes place. In the Church Street blast case, the focus is on Cubbon Park station. How can somebody know about Church Street without the knowledge of the Cubbon Park police. Somebody from Delhi is not going to catch you. RAW will tell you what is happening in Pakistan.

Basically, even if a man from West Bengal or Timbaktu comes to Church Street and places the bomb, who has to track him. It is the local police through their intelligence machinery, through their network of informants, for which they need resources of all kinds.

A crime originates at the local level, not in Intelligence bureau Delhi. A street is managed by a beat constable. Does he have the resources, wherewithal, training and knowledge to get the information quick and act?
Terrorists have struck Bengaluru five times since the 2005 IISc attack. Have the city police learnt lessons and formulated a strategy?

I am sure they have. The most important learning is that the awareness that terrorists can attack Bengaluru. Before the IISc attack, a bomb blast was always something which happened elsewehere. 

And the investigations into all theses cases have created a certain expertise and knowledge base. During probes, some police officers had to go deep into the workings of terror organisations. They interacted with police officers from other states. They understood organisations such as IS, SIMI, and a little bit about Taliban and the Al Qaeda. They interacted with central intelligence agencies. Coordination has improved. 

But more importantly, the Government of India created an institution called Multi Agency Centre (MAC), where various agenices meet, discuss and exchange intelligence. This learning from an institutional mechanism is one of the very important gains. 
Inadequate manpower is an oft-quoted grouse of the police. Can the existing strength, aided by technology suffice?

Cricket players complain about switching from limited overs to Test cricket. But our policemen have to switch from examination bandobast to busting terrorist cases. This is the kind of expectation, complexity and variety of our police force. The policeman doesn’t have training, he is not well paid, and he is not given skills training. This lack of training is all round, in basic policing, use of fire arms, equipment, computers. 

In India, we had 153 policemen for every one lakh population in 2007. In Portugal it was 481, 269 in Germany and 232 in the US. Police strength has to relate to population, crime, distances. If a beat constable has to travel 10 km, he can do less work. If his area is only two km, one constable can manage. Now, it is not being done scientifically.

Now nobody does eight-hour duty, everybody works 12, 13 hours. They don’t have holidays. It is all very hotch-potch. It is a very ad hoc kind of system. You have to organise all these things. You have to increase the police strength. It should be at least 200 in next 10 years. 
Surveillance is seen as an aid for investigations. Can the CCTVs, drones and other equipment prevent another terror attack in the City?

Prevention is possible through a combination of human intelligence and technological surveillance. You should not see the two in isolation. But Bengaluru is a large city with a large area. A monitoring mechanism for the entire city will take a lot more equipement, innovation and setting up. 

There is a Traffic Management Centre where they are able to even capture registration numbers of vehicles, book cases and send notices. But it can be much more. They have caught live accidents on camera. It need not be used only for traffic. It can give other information also. It will be interesting to check pattern of traffic near Church Street before the incident.

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