The existence of trained police negotiators was not known to the first responders involved in getting Sapna Perreira off the Byculla hoarding on Wednesday. Perreira had climbed atop the hoarding and threatened to commit suicide,holding up traffic for over four hours in south Mumbai.
The police force currently has 18 negotiators trained by Scotland Yard. Acting deputy chief fire officer Suhas Joshi said the fire control room had called the police control asking them to a send a senior inspector to the spot. We are not aware of any post of police negotiator in plainclothes. We asked for a senior PI in uniform to be sent to the spot, he said. In the absence of a trained negotiator,the acting team was forced to comply with the womans demands and send two reporters with a fire official posing as a cameraman. The woman had been demanding money for her daughters eye operation.
According to senior police officials,the first negotiator reached the spot minutes after the woman was brought down. Senior fire officers cited lack of knowledge among the ground police staff.
The fire officials reached the scene at 12.30 pm and it took them 15 minutes to engage the woman as they adjusted the snorkel. Meanwhile,the police control informed one of the negotiators. With no proper details on the exact spot,the negotiator remained stuck in traffic and reached Byculla two hours later,according to police sources. Though the control room sent the negotiator,the same information was not conveyed to the first responders at the spot,confirmed a control room official.
If we knew they have a negotiator,the situation would have been controlled much earlier, said a fire officer. The negotiator then had to follow the woman to the hospital and conduct a post trauma analysis.
According to officers,Sending media reporters on the demand of the victim was a risky decision and should have been ideally avoided. The senior officials at J J Marg were then given a briefing on the existence of trained negotiators.
At least three negotiators,serving in police stations,said their names were not known to the control room. Director General of Police K Subramanyam expressed that much needs to be done in this area from policy level to execution.