It took an hour and 26 minutes after the first PCR call was made by two ABP journalists, who were shot at and chased by two men on a motorcycle on the Barapullah flyover Sunday, for police to attend to their call. The incident has forced police to rethink of ways to increase reaction time, including introducing an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) call system.
According to the two journalists, the driver managed to get them to the nearest police picket, where officers allegedly took photos of their bullet-ridden vehicle and left. PCR calls went unanswered, leaving them to fend for themselves, they claimed.
As per a report by PCR staffers, sent to senior officers, the journalists made several calls. The first call made at 1.33 am lasted 12 minutes, with the operator just saying one word — Hello. The second call lasted more than six minutes and police claimed the journalists kept changing their location. “We had alerted six PCR vans after a call at 2.51 am, and our van arrived at the spot in nine minutes,” said DCP (PCR) Deepak Purohit.
Police data shows the PCR unit gets 10 lakh calls a month, out of which they miss 6 lakh calls. “These are calls which either drop or the caller is not able to speak to our operators due to a signal issue,” an officer explained.
Police believe the IVR system could be an alternative. “It will have a list of options a caller can avail. But it may not be of help during distress calls,” Purohit said.
Another option is to await porting of the 100 number to the new 112 system, also known as the Emergency Response System (ERS). Under this, persons in distress can avail police, fire, health and other emergency services on a single number.
With over 10,000 calls coming in from 14 police districts in a day, an operator takes over eight minutes to fill out a form on the computer, relay the message to the district concerned and, eventually, the PCR van. “In this system, callers just have to make the call and the service provider will help us pinpoint their location, which will be sent to PCR staffers on smartphones,” an officer said.
The 112 system was to be implemented this month, but due to polls and some officials seeking a legal opinion on the matter, police said it has been stalled.
While the assailants are yet to be traced, three officers have been suspended for failing to help the men. DCP (Crime) Ram Gopal Naik said 16 teams are on the case. “Over 50 suspects have been questioned… CCTV footage is being checked,” he said.