To tackle a spike in instances of traffic personnel being assaulted while on duty, the Kolkata Police have equipped traffic sergeants with mini cameras called ‘Body Cams’ which will record any untoward incidents. The footage will help increase transparency in such matters.
After four traffic guards successfully completed a test run of the ‘Body Cams’ initiated a few months ago, the devices have been distributed among 45 traffic sergeants, who man primary intersections across the city.
The tiny camera, which records video as well as audio footage on an SD card, will be pinned to their uniforms. The devices will be wirelessly connected to the Central Traffic Control office at Lal Bazaar as well as the local traffic guard office, where the footage can be viewed in real time.
Altercations between rule-breakers and traffic personnel have been on the rise in the city. On Thursday, two people, who were allegedly under the influence of alcohol, were arrested for assaulting two civic police volunteers who tried to stop them from parking their car in the middle of the road at Survey Park.
One of the volunteers was even bitten during the scuffle. On the same day, a home guard of the South Eastern Traffic Police Guard was assaulted by two men when he asked them to move their vehicle which was holding up traffic at the Panditya Road and Rashbehari Road crossing. The two were later arrested.
While only traffic sergeants have been given the cameras for now, guards and constables may soon get to use the devices as well, depending on how effective they will turn out to be.
“The body camera will help maintain more transparency in such situations. It will boost the confidence of the public as well as traffic sergeants. It’s a win-win situation for both sides. It will provide clear evidence about a situation,” Additional Commissioner (I) of Kolkata Police Vineet Goyal told The Indian Express.
A source in the traffic department said the ‘Body Cam’ project had been finalised a year ago by the then Police Commissioner, Surajit Kar Purkyastha.
“Transparency is extremely important, particularly now when there seems to be a growing distrust between the police and the people. It will also help minimise false claims against the police,” said a traffic police official.
Though many traffic police personnel were in favour of implementation of the ‘Body Cams’, some said such constant scrutiny could be both unnerving and unnecessary.