By SANTOSHEE GULABKALI MISHRA
A Group of residents in Dombivali has come forward to assist local police keep the streets free of crime this summer. Calling themselves the Eagle Brigade, the citizen group has taken it upon itself to help curb house-breaks and chain-snatchings. Most of the residents are aged between 18 and 30 and patrol Dombivali between midnight and early morning.
The initiative was kicked off this year by JCP V V Lakshminarayana, Additional Commissioner Dr Ravinder Kumar Singal and Arjun Rane, senior inspector, Vishnu Nagar police station.
“In 2013, the Eagle Brigade started with 30 volunteers patrolling Dombivali (West) along with personnel from Vishnu Nagar police station. During patrols, between May 1 and June 15, house thefts and chain-snatchings had come down to zero in the most crime-prone areas. Our focus was to keep an eye on families who would travel to their native places and return in June,” said Eagle Brigade founder, Vishwanth Bhivalkar (33), who works in a MNC as an HR head.
Similar experiments in the past, in which the police has teamed up with citizen groups have not always paid dividends. There have been several instances in which untrained citizens have simply caught the wrong man and even delivered mob justice.
This year, around 60 people in the 18-30 age group have volunteered to patrol. They have been issued identity cards and have not been limited to moving around on motorbikes or in police vans. The Eagle Brigade also inspects the driving licenses of late-night passersby. They conduct security checks in residential buildings and whistle at the first sign of trouble.
“The police fail to control house thefts as they lack the manpower and need public involvement. This time, Eagle Brigade has offered support in patrolling and probably this will help more people to become involved. The group has helped the police even in the festival season and during the elections. These are working people who have taken out precious time for society. I think this initiative should be replicated by the public in future, and will certainly help police in minimising crime,” said Singal.
Rane said that last year’s success had encouraged him to seek out the brigade this year. “Last year, there was not a single house break and chain-snatching case registered when the volunteers patrolled with the police,” he said.
Bhivalkar said the volunteers worked in organised fashion, and gathered at Vishnu Nagar police station at an agreed upon time each night.