STEPPING INTO the 60th year of its inception, the dog squad of the Mumbai Police will soon add 12 woman handlers to its strength.
After training with the dogs for a year, the 12 woman constables will play the role of second handlers. Later, based on their performance, they will be given the job of their first handlers.
“We have started the process of engaging female staffers. Over the past year, we conducted a drive in which the male and female staff of the Mumbai Police were asked about their areas of interest apart from their routine work. As our female staffers showed interest in working for the dog squad, we conducted a small test at the end of 2018 on the basis of which we have selected 12 women,” said a senior police official.
The selection criteria was based on their knowledge of and familiarity with pets along with the level of comfort they shared with them.
“We took their fitness into consideration as the dogs are demanding in nature, so the handlers have to be on the run.
In a way, the handler is also responsible for keeping a dog alert,” added the senior officer.
As of now, the Mumbai Police has three teams in its dog squad. One is based at Aarey Colony in Goregaon with five dogs and ten handlers while two dogs are undergoing training with their handlers at the Dog Training Centre of the Maharashtra Criminal Investigation Department in Pune. This team is responsible for securing VIP movements across Mumbai.
The Crime Branch has a special dog squad, comprising three dogs and six handlers, that is dispatched only to crime scenes across the city.
The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) has 12 dogs and 24 handlers, of which three are undergoing training with six handlers at Pune.
“We have recently got two three-month-old pups and are importing some more from foreign countries. If it works out, they will be sent for training with the female handlers,” said the police officer.
The Mumbai Police is in the process of adding Belgian Malinois to its existing squad, mainly made up of Labrador Retrievers.
Deputy commissioner of police (protection and security branch) Prashant Kadam said, “We are trying to give our female staff the exposure to fields dominated by males. Today, women are competing in every department, so we decided to involve them in the dog squad. In future, we will be recruiting them into our BDDS as well.”