TO get even with criminals who use the latest technologies and digital tools to commit crimes, the law enforcement authorities too are trying to make their officers tech-savvy to curb the number of crimes and crack the cases using the same tools.
Taking it to the next level, the Maharashtra Police are now putting in special efforts to make the lowest rung cops — the constabulary — techno-savvy. The Directorate of Police Training has instructed all ten police training centres (PTCs) in the state to make digital interventions in the year-long training modules of the newly inducted constables. About 8,800 constables are presently under training in 10 PTCs in the state where the digitisation is going to be implemented.
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The glitch in the story, however, is that the required gadgets — one tablet PC per trainee is to be bought by the trainee with his or her own money. The training centre, on its part, will spend funds to set up the infrastructure to make the campuses Wi-Fi enabled.
The project has been rolled out at the Khandala PTC — about 50 kms from Pune city — where 800 women police constables are currently under training.
The project, officials say, will slowly be extended to remaining nine other PTCs. Of the ten PTCs in the state, three exclusively cater to female cops.
According to sources in the state police department, the idea for this “project” came from Additional Director General of Police Dr K Venkatesham. The aim, they say, is to make the police constables as technologically competitive as the officers.
At Khandala PTC which trains 800 female cops every year, the “digital intervention” has created quite a buzz. While there’s enthusiasm among a big chunk of trainees to learn about the crime investigation, laws and handling of sensitive situations and working knowledge of English language through the gadgets, there are others who have apprehensions about spending money to buy a tablet PC when they can use their mobile handhelds for the same purpose.
“I already own a Samung Galaxy phone. It’s more efficient than a tablet. Why should buy the tap,” a 22-year-old trainee hailing from Satara said.
The administration, on the the other hand, said that they will not force anyone to buy the tablet “provided they own a smart phone which will serve the purpose.”
“Our aim is to introduce newly inducted constables to ultra modern techniques using the digital training methods. No one would disagree that the conventional training methods have to be replaced with the latest ones. Until now – while training lower run cops – our emphasis was more on field training than classroom training. Now with changing times when most of the crimes are either cyber crimes or have cyber angle, there’s need to make our constabulary cyber friendly. We are also trying to make the training module paperless as all textbooks, laws will be provided to students in soft copies,” said Sadashiv Nikam, Deputy Superintendent of Police, working with Khandala PTC.
The administration has signed contracts with half a dozen tablet PC providers including iBall, Micromax, Samsung and Dell which will supply the tablets — price of which will range between Rs 3,500 and 7,500. The amount can be paid in three to six installments.
“It’s the trainee who have to choose the device as per his needs and preference. We are only facilitators. Also, those who have good smartphones and don’t want to buy the tabs are free to do so. Our concern is that none should lag behind,” said Nikam adding, “four-five thousand rupees isn’t much for trainees who are paid Rs 17-18 thousand a month.”
“It remains to be seen if this exercise paves way for making the police force tech friendly or provides fodder for allegations of corruption as is being feared by some in the force,” officials said.