When Cyberabad Police launched an experimental project to connect with citizens through WhatsApp, officers hardly thought it would help them solve cases.
Ever since the BSNL number 9490617444 was launched on February 20, 341 ‘message complaints’ were received. While citizens helped police by uploading photos of traffic bottlenecks, illegal parking, and public nuisance, a few citizens helped them 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.
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“On March 9, a private school at Yacharam sent a message that parents of four students, all aged 12, had complained to the school that their children had not returned home. They also sent photos of the kids which were forwarded to police stations in our jurisdiction and neighbouring areas. It so happened that the kids had decided to go on an adventure and spend couple of days on their own and they were picked up by Meerpet Police, hungry and scared to go home to face their parents,’’ said ACP Ravindra Reddy, incharge of WhatsApp control station.
“The biggest benefit is the instant transfer of photos and CCTV clippings of suspected snatchers and house-breaking offenders,” an official said. “The Cyberabad Police Commissioner is able to issue common instructions on WhatsApp which is read instantly by all officers and which are transmitted over wireless simultaneously. Deputy Commissioners are able to pass on instructions in their zone through photos and videos,’’ he added.