August 2, 2021 1:01:22 am
Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale speaks with The Indian Express on the health issues among police personnel that was brought to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic, controversies surrounding his predecessor Param Bir Singh and dismissed API Sachin Waze, spike in cybercrimes in the city and sudden transfers in the crime branch. Edited excerpts
The pandemic has brought to the fore the health issues that afflict the police force. What steps are you planning to take to ensure that the city has a healthy police force?
Co-morbidities indeed exist in our policemen and over the period it has been addressed at various levels. The problem is very peculiar to the police as we do not have fixed hours of working. Six-seven years ago, a survey was conducted where it was found that diabetes, hypertension and other co-morbidities are quite common among personnel and that 60-70 per cent are suffering from one ailment or another.
To address these health issues, we have recently started a pilot project in the east region in which we selected five police stations from which 15-20 constables were chosen. All of them were above 45 and suffering from obesity, high BP, diabetes or serious ailments. We have hired a consultant, Dr Saylee Bhosale, who is also the daughter of one of our policemen. Our staff will undergo one-on-one counselling sessions with the nutrition expert. Depending on the seriousness of their comorbidity, they will be assigned diet and exercise. The improvement in their health will be constantly monitored. This is a pilot project and once it starts showing results, we will try to implement it in other units and police stations.
122 out of 487 policemen, who have succumbed to Covid-19 across the state were working in the Mumbai police department. What are the welfare schemes or relief measures introduced for the families of these police officials?
As an immediate help, we have already given Rs 10 lakh from our police foundation to each family of the deceased personnel. This is in addition to the Rs 50 lakh that members of the force, who died during the pandemic, will be getting from the state. We are also recruiting a member from their family on compassionate grounds.
The incident involving Sachin Waze and other policemen have eroded the faith that people had in Mumbai Police. As the head of the force, what steps are you taking to regain this trust?
First of all, I would like to make it clear that Sachin Waze is not the Mumbai Police. He is not a representative of this entire force. When I took charge on March 17, things were pretty bad and there was criticism all around. The squabbling inside the force and the criticism from the public had demoralised our staff. The Mumbai Police is a very big organisation and one or two aberrations like this cannot erode the faith of Mumbaikars in the force. I intend to ensure that we behave like a professional force where those who do wrong get booked and those who are doing good work get appreciated. This sends a positive signal to the force and also to the public.
With the cases of extortion that is being registered against the police personnel and the former Commissioner of Police, who also accused the previous Home Minister of demanding Rs 100 crore, do you think corruption is a problem within the force and if yes then how do you plan to rectify it?
When such complaints of corruption are received by us, we direct them to the Anti-Corruption Bureau. And if the demand is from someone within the department, we take cognizance of that, we institute an enquiry and proceed with that. There are several cases in which departmental enquiry is being conducted and those found guilty are being suspended and dismissed.
Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh has alleged the FIR registered against him is a political vendetta. Is the force working under political pressure?
I would not like to say anything on the matters that are pending in court. Moreover, we work under the ambit of the law of this land. Nobody pressurizes us to do anything, nobody asks for any favour. The police simply do their job as mandated by the constitution.
Recently several officers, who were working in the crime branch, were transferred to police stations. Do you think this has and will have an impact on the detection rate of Mumbai Police? Should they have been transferred in batches?
I don’t think there is any decrease or adverse effect on the detection rate or the performance of the crime branch. This decision to reshuffle the crime branch was taken with the intention that there were many officers and constables, who have been serving in the same place for over 15-18 years. Here CP, Joint CP and ACP come and go in two years. What was so special about these police officials that they continued working for 18 years in the same place? Also, officers and constables should get the opportunity to work in different settings, including crime branch, cyber cell, police stations and protection and security. The fact that few people continue to be in the crime branch for an extended duration while others do not get a chance to serve in these posts does not send the right signal to the cadre. We have also drafted a new policy for constables where they will be given a choice of posting after every five years of service.
There has been a steep rise in the number of cybercrimes and compared to the cases registered, the detection and recovery rate is poor, how do you plan to tackle this issue?
Earlier there was only one cyber police station in BKC and this unit would cover the entire Mumbai. Subsequently in 2019, the government sanctioned four more police stations for each region, which started operating. Until now the region’s cyber stations were working under the Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order). But recently an order has been issued that all the five cyber police stations will be supervised by DCP (Cyber) Rashmi Karandikar, who was earlier managing only one cyber unit. All these police stations will be upgraded and they will be as good as the BKC cyber police station.
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