When Cyberabad Police launched an experimental project to connect with citizens through WhatsApp, officers hardly thought that it would actually help them solve some crime cases and bring to their notice obvious things that cops fail to notice. Since it was launched on February 20, with 9490617444 as the BSNL number to which citizens could connect to, 341 ‘message complaints’ were received by Cyberabad Police.
While quick-thinking citizens helped the cops by uploading photos of traffic bottlenecks, illegal parking, and public nuisance, a few citizens actually helped cops catch chain-snatchers, robbers, and in one case, four missing children. The success of this experiment prompted Cyberabad Police to appoint an Assistant Commissioner of Police (Whatsapp) to deal with the messages coming in.
On March 10, Cyberabad Police’s Whatsapp received a message from a person in Dundigal regarding a chain-snatching incident at Suraram Colony. The sender had managed to take photos of the chain-snatchers in the act and uploaded them. By the time the victim lodged a complaint at Dundigal Police Station, cops had photos of the suspects and when the victim identified one of them, they were caught within a few hours on the outskirts of Dundigal.
“On March 9, a private school at Yacharam sent a message late in the night that the parents of four students, all aged 12, came to the school and complained that they had not returned home. They also sent photos of the four kids, which we immediately forwarded to all police stations in our jurisdictions and neighbouring areas. It so happened that the kids had decided to go on an adventure and spend a couple of days on their own and they were picked up by cops of our Meerpet Police Station, 40 kms away on Nagarjuna Sagar Road, hungry and scared to go home to face their parents,’’ ACP RAvindra Reddy, incharge of the Whatsapp control station, said.
“The most optimum benefit for Police department is the instant transfer of Photos and CCTV clippings of suspected snatchers and house-breaking offenders. The Cyberabad Police Whatsapp group has helped all officers to be in touch with what is happening in other parts in the 3700 sq km jurisdiction of Cyberabad and helping them in reacting in their own local areas. In one case, one notorious chain-snatcher who was committing repeated snatchings in Kukatpally area and whose photograph was transferred through WhatsApp was picked up by LB Nagar Police based on the photograph and 25 snatching were detected from
him,’’ an official said.
“The Cyberabad Police Commissoner is able to issue common instructions on WhatsApp which is being read instantly by all officers and which are also been transmitted over wireless simultaneously whereas Deputy Commssioners are able to communicate certain instructions in their own zone through photos and videos,’’ the official said.
The 341 complaints or messages received so far include: 152 complaints regarding law and order, sound pollution (15), public nuisance (33), missing persons (81), unknown dead bodies (23), crime complaints (36), crime information (36), traffic related (52), wrong or illegal parking (10), traffic violations (12), traffic jams (20), and accidents (10), miscellaneous complaints (101) and suggestions (53). The Cyberabad Police also gives an Action Taken Report via whatsapp to the complainant or message sender.