Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
The article is a reflection of my experience of serving in the police department for 36 years spanned over to almost all segments of the police department both as Gazetted as well as Non-Gazetted officers of the department. Police is normally understood as the system of regulations meant for the purpose of preservation of law and order, prevention and detection of crime and to secure the life and property of the individual and community as a whole. Another area in which the direct involvement of police is being, increasingly felt is the eradication of social evils, like child marriage, women harassment, wanton labor, drugs addiction, smuggling, black marketing etc. There is an urgent need to free society from these evils. Another area where the service of police towards society needs appreciation is at the time of natural calamities and catastrophes at many occasions. Practically speaking in all these areas, where society needs help from police, at the same time police need cooperation from the society.
It is a recognized fact that police face criticism from all the corners of the society. Police attract criticism and one of the reasons we can arrive at this is that police has distanced itself from the public and day by day we are losing the co-operation of the community that we have to serve. It is generally felt police is playing in the hands of rulers whereas in reality police is under lawful command of the government. With the changing environment police can perform efficiently only when we have the cooperation from the community. Police should accept it boldly that that some of the key factors such as, extra judicial killings, Human rights violations, rude and instrumental behavior, torture and allegations of rape, favoritism, refusal to register FIRs, manipulations, money, political pressures to deviate investigations, etc are distancing the confidence of public from police. But with the changes in the forms of the government in due course of time responsibilities and functions of police have also undergone changes depending upon the social set up they have to serve. In modern democratic India changes in the social structure during the past few decades have been many and multi-dimensional. There has been a lot of awakening among the people, the level of education and literacy has gone up. On most occasions, yet a high percentage of the public deem their local law enforcement untrustworthy, and they have a poor relationship. The negative publicity that law enforcement receives has adverse effects on police. To better the relationship between the police department and communities, police need to develop relations programs that are police-public/community relations programs. Having a good police/public-community relation has its benefits such as police officers can work effectively, and deliver safer and more accessible services to the community. Also, the level of trust between the two improves and solving crimes becomes easier since community members are more willing to share information during such situations. If law enforcement agencies adopt the mentioned solutions; having better tools to prevent criminal acts, focusing on ensuring public safety, and directly engaging communities, it will improve the police-community relations and achieve safer places to live. When we talk of police-community relations the epicenter for developing police public relations and a focal point for this flight to take on, these are the police stations. When we talk of a police station, it is the place of the expectations for those having been the victim and from where people expect enforcement of law and order, a place from where security of them and their property is expected. The police station of any particular area is responsible for enforcing the law and order in that area. The police have a very important role to play in society. The relationship between the public and the police is critical as it influences the ability of the police to meet their role in society. It determines the success of law enforcement officers in the prevention and determination of criminal activities. The relationship is the backbone of the community policing strategy. It determines the level of public confidence in the police, the level of public satisfaction with police activities and the level of trust the public has on the police. It also influences the level of support and respect given to the police by the public. The relationship between the public and the police that are entrusted to protect them is critically important. The most cherished principle of democracy; the rule of law is achieved only through police and better way with public co-operation. To strengthen the police-public relations, we can think of some programs such as allowing the public to have cordial visits to the police stations. The police along with Community members regularly visit the society for a free chat. Awarding and rewarding good community members in open forums. Involvement in such actions helps community members following the law. People having freedom with the police thus sharing useful information with them, and the relationship between law enforcement and minority groups improve. We have to develop relations with community led organizations. Monthly meetings can help police to engage with the community. Much of the honest opinion comes from community members when police directly interact with them. There must be a qualitative awareness and transformation between the police and the public that restore their relationship on issues related to their rights and duties. Police should implement diversion programs that improve public safety by not arresting (minor issues) and inflicting fear on the people but by resolving the root issues causing crimes. The key to improving police effectiveness and public safety is to return to the fundamental principles of modern policing, which means both increasing police-community trust and preventing crime instead of reacting to crime. Law enforcement agencies need to focus their efforts on public safety priorities, and directly engage the community in our work.
(The author is a veteran Police officer).