I personally know that Mumbai Police is pretty strict as regards towing of car is concerned. A couple of years back when my wife and I were returning after buying vegetables to where we had parked our car we saw it had vanished. We got a rude shock. A shopkeeper told us it has been towed away. We had to take an auto to the place where towed cars are kept. The officer in charge showed us the challan where it was written “double parking”. I paid Rs 300/- (Rs 100/- for wrong parking and Rs 200 for towing charges) and got my car back.
This incident of few years back came to my mind after reading in newspapers that a citizen friendly technology has been adopted by Mumbai Police. Traffic police have been given smart phones and an application has been downloaded whereby details of towed vehicles are put there. So if you find your car missing and you are not sure if it is stolen or towed away you can check the application and find out instantly. You need not get the shock we had. I understand Bangalore Police too has such an app.
Now let us have a look at some more recent initiatives whereby technology is being used by the police to adapt to changing times and before we do that let us address some basic questions.
Why Police is required at all A State has certain sovereign functions such as defence, administration of justice, external affairs, collection of taxes and maintaining law and order. The Police therefore plays an important role. With changing times the role of the police has to be evolving too so as to keep up with rising expectations of the public, growing importance of media and increased sophistication of the crime doers.
Why Technology is required at all Simple. Technology can make the jobs of police officers easier. It can help the citizen’s too in getting their problems, concerns and issues reached to the police faster so that effective steps can be taken.
Factor’s to be kept in mind before purchasing technology. Most important- Is it cost effective? How often the technology will be used. Obviously the more often and more frequently the technology is used the better it is for cost effectiveness. At the same time the maintenance cost has to be factored in as well.
A look at a New initiative in Maharashtra The recently joined Director General of Police of Maharashtra has stated that the police force will be going digital. Police will now e-mail or whatsapp FIR copies to complainants on request. The idea is to make life easy for the citizens. In sensitive cases where the complainant does not want to reveal his identity then it will be kept secret.
Reactions. Some police officers felt it will add to their long hours of work. Surely, that can’t be helped. Doesn’t a doctor too have long hours of work and after that he/she has to update patient data etc. Most citizens have however welcomed this initiative and have stated that more publicity is required as many times due to ignorance of the public and overwork of police officers, FIR copy is not asked for or given. A former police officer turned noted activist offers a contra view. He says that this is against section 154 of Cr PC and instead of using technology, all FIR’s should be put on police website to prevent manipulation and antedating. I asked a couple of senior officers their opinion on the topic and they were clear that copy has to be given, and one should evolve with technology.
CCTV This is extremely important in modern trying times. Recently the experiment was carried out in Mumbai whereby CCTV Cameras have been placed at important areas of the city. Hopefully these will be helpful in stopping crimes. A few days back, in Mumbai, a man wielding a gun got into the SUV of a banker at a traffic signal, forced him to take him to a lonely area. He then tied him up, drove the car to an ATM and forced him to divulge his password and took out money. He then fled with the money, a chain, watch and cell phone. Using modern technology including CCTV he was caught within 72 hours.
Citizen’s portal in Odisha In Odisha, a Citizen’s Portal has been launched whereby Citizen’s can file complaints online. The Chief Minister says this will especially help women and senior citizens who are hesitant to go to police stations. A feedback of performance can also be given. The services which can be availed through the citizen portal are issuance of character certificates, permission for taking out processions and rallies, issuance of FIR copies, permission for holding events and performances, permission for holding protests and strikes. Tenant verification, employee’s verification, registration of missing permissions and registration of lost property can also be done through the portal. Citizens can also track the status of their on-line registered complaints.
Advantages of such moves Such type of quick delivery system benefits society at large and enhances the image of police. These new initiatives are helpful to people, particularly those living in remote areas.
What in future. Anything is possible. Let us think big. Maybe Unmanned Drones can help patrol in ways and areas police cannot. They can capture images of crime scenes as they are in progress, which will be of immense help in future court proceedings. Maybe Police can use Google glass to help patrol more effectively. They can use social media such as facebook and instagram to help solve crimes. It is also pertinent that technology helps rapid identification. For instance in USA the police have reached a level that officers can obtain biometric information from a person, usually a finger print and compare it with the criminal database of the FBI. Instant identity is known whether the person is a first time offender or has an arrest history. Similarly facial recognition tools help check the driving license history of a person if say he is stopped by traffic cops and has inadvertently forgotten his driving license.
Thanks for going through my random thoughts as a layman on technology and police.