One of the major factors which determines the nation’s standard is the quality of policing, the law and order situation and the government in general and the Police, in particular, has a lot of introspection to do in this aspect.
Every state police force has an inglorious history of committing public atrocities, habitual miss handling of cases, exhibition of in-sensitiveness and getting away with it. A policeman whose sheer presence is supposed to infuse confidence in the mind of an ordinary citizen in fact does exactly the opposite, Hardly any citizen, especially women, is likely to have a good experience to share after visiting a police station.
The major problem is because of the substandard training and the behaviour of the lower rank and file in the police force. The power corrupts the mind can be seen in the behaviour of even a constable. Stories of rampant abuse of the position, using harsh methods to get forced confessions and cases of custodial deaths are on the rise. The solution to the problem is not difficult to find only the police hierarchy and the state governments have to make a sincere effort.
A major push is required in this field. Both professional training and the soft skills need a massive overhaul. A suspected criminal and a victim cannot be dealt in the same way. The forced confession got from an accused in the police station under duress does not stand to legal scrutiny in a court of law, the witness turning hostile on day one of court hearing are not new. Periodic classes for interrogation and soft skills should be made a regular feature in police department.
The lack of professional skills can be also seen the way most of encounters with armed criminals are dealt by the police force. How can a criminal gang using crude weapons and with no formal training kill a professionally trained police party, much larger in number, and make good his escape? This indicates sheer failure of intelligence and lack of professionalism by the uniformed men, especially the leaders.
Cases of indiscipline and public misbehaviour should be dealt with ruthlessly. Transfers or short -term suspensions to shut mouth of opponents are not a cure and only leading to increase in such cases. Discipline also pertains to the donning of uniform; the pride a uniformed man has in his service is reflected to a large extent by the way he wears his uniform. Most policemen need a sincere lesson in the art of respecting the uniform.
The major cause for rising stress in the police service is the unpredictable tenures and long working hours which are generally a result of poor numbers. Kanpur (India), which was in news for all the wrong reasons recently had one of the worst police to public ratio till a few years back and I am sure nothing much would have changed even now. I hope the political hierarchy gives attention to this aspect. One understands economics matters but then if safety of life and property is not assured than no amount of money has any value.
To be credible police requires independence of action, reasonable numbers, and good equipment. The police hierarchy must be given a free hand in dealing with the law and order situations. The commitment on VIP duties must be brought down to bare minimum. The handling of Human resource management issues especially the posting management of the police personnel require a re-look.
The public to a large extent is responsible for the prevalent police behaviour in the country, we got to learn to respect a man in uniform doing his duty. A policeman catches me when I indulge in an act of indiscipline and commit a visible offence, he takes bribes and leaves me because I offer/ suggest him that route, why can’t I apologise or take the punishment and carry on. When I see a wrong being done (by police por public) I prefer to look the other way. A policeman also comes from among the general public, he also has the same character as you and me. He will only start behaving in the expected manner If you and I start behaving in the way we are supposed to.
Secondly, electing a political leader is the responsibility of the citizens. If we want the ‘Goonda Raj’ (Rule of criminals) to go, we got to stop electing criminals. Elect some knowledgeable, educated representatives who may pay due attention to reforms, then only we can expect a change in the law and order situation and the police behaviour.
It is high time we the public stopped turning a blind eye to the visible wrongs in the society. The change in situation can only be brought about by the change in public behaviour, so rise and shine and do your bit.