City police return to beat patrolling to boost public confidence

Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners are an essential part of the exercise, which is meant to improve law and order

To improve the maintenance of law and order and increase the confidence of the public on the police, the city police have reintroduced foot patrolling of streets. Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners are an essential part of this exercise.

The Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners are now required to undertake foot patrolling to meet the residents living in narrow places, beyond the reach of motorised patrol vehicles.

Recently, the police solved a case of theft of cattle following complaints from villagers living on the outskirts. The matter was brought to the notice of Deepa Sathyan, Deputy Commissioner, Ambattur, during foot patrolling.

Ms. Deepa said, “Residents now feel that they can access a police officer. We can understand the grievances of the public on the ground and implement suggestions rendered by the public. They can discuss any issue with us directly.”

On another day, Kilpauk inspector K. Murugesan, while patrolling on EVR Road, spotted an old man, who was ill, lying on the pavement near the KMC bus stop. He took him to the Corporation Hostel after feeding him. Later, he was sent to an old age home. K. Adhiveerapandian, Deputy Commissioner, Kilpauk, said, “This is an opportunity to meet people on the ground. We undertake foot patrol of streets, where vehicles cannot reach and listen to the grievances of the public.”

At times, even such civic issues, such as non-supply of drinking water and stagnation of sewage, were resolved by police officers.

Building trust

V. Vikraman, Deputy Commissioner, Adyar, said, “We are sure this will give the people confidence. The conversations during patrolling may bring out more information about crimes and criminals. Besides, the policemen who walk the beat vastly increase their knowledge of the neighbourhoods.”

City Police Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal said the system had received a positive response from the public. “The present patrolling exercise is to increase more visible policing. People appreciate this exercise and demand that it be done in their areas. At least 100 foot patrols are conducted in each police district. Due to this, incidents such as assaults and skirmishes have come down. At the same time, unsavoury elements were deterred and warned. Basically, it boils down to an interaction with the public and giving them the confidence that police presence is there. Some issues are being sorted out then and there,” he said.

The city police have also spruced up the mobile patrolling system to render quick assistance.

They have launched yet another initiative under which the public can convey their grievances to the patrol vehicle stationed in their neighbourhoods.

“One patrol vehicle from each station will be deployed at a pre-disclosed location every day for two hours. The public can approach the vehicle and express grievances. Petty issues will be solved then and there. The community service register receipt will be issued to petitioners,” Mr. Aggarwal said.

Evidence-based patrolling has been introduced in north Chennai, under which patrol vehicles are deployed in areas where the police get more calls from the public or which are more prone to crime. Patrolling teams have been instructed to reach the spot within five minutes on receiving an emergency call.

R. Dhinkaran, Additional Commissioner of Police, South, said, “We have taken steps to increase patrolling. We have found out the reasons for not using patrol vehicles in certain areas — it could be either shortage of drivers or repair. We have addressed those issues.”

“Most police stations have at least three patrol vehicles. At some stations, we have four vehicles. Their job is to attend to emergency calls and rush to the spot immediately. The patrolling teams have been working on shift round the clock,” said A. Arun, Additional Commissioner of Police, North.

The city has 171 police stations, and 355 four-wheeler patrol vehicles and 503 two-wheeler patrol vehicles are in operation.

Each police station has a main patrol vehicle, an additional patrol vehicle, a Gypsy patrol vehicle and a special vehicle. In addition to these, over 35 Amma patrol vehicles are being operated by women police personnel in areas where crimes against women have been reported in the past. Mounted police are patrolling the sands of the Marina.

Improvements sought

However, resident welfare associations want two-wheeler beat patrolling improved. V. Rajagopal, president of the Anna Nagar Western Extension Residents Welfare Association, said: “Earlier, policemen visited the homes of senior citizens in the Thirumangalam and Anna Nagar areas and received signatures on patta books. They enquired about the health of the individuals. This system was discontinued.”

Rakesh Ohri, co-founder of the Federation of OMR Residents Associations, said, “A couple of years ago, there were WhatsApp groups for each police station that helped the leaders of the residents’ welfare associations connect with the crime, law and order and traffic police officers at each station. This helped to create a rapport, and the patrol visited, if there was a need… Several attempts to revive these groups have been futile. Hopefully, the new leaders will restart this initiative.”

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