As a senior officer with Pune rural police reprimanded an inspector over phone for delay in registration of an FIR, he was overheard telling him to get the formalities completed as soon as possible and to “make sure I have photos of the FIR in my WhatsApp inbox before 2 pm”.
Officers from Pune rural police have extensively started using WhatsApp for daily communication. A closed group of all officers — police station incharge and above — has been formed and similar closed groups have been formed on the level of various division jurisdictions.
Additional Superintendent of Police Ravindrasinh Pardeshi said, “We found this to be very useful for daily communication. It is handy and can be used effectively. Exchange of photos related to crime, public documents like complaints or FIRs is very easy on WhatsApp. It is obvious that faster communication leads to efficiency and better decision-making.”
Pardeshi said sharing of an unidentified body’s photo on WhatsApp recently led to its identification in an hour. “It is not just useful for communication among officers, but also between cops and citizens. We have asked our staffers to use it for sharing information that is not confidential with citizens. They have started sharing information about missing persons, wanted criminals, awareness messages, accidents, traffic issues with the citizens using WhatsApp,” he said.
Superintendent of Police with Pune Rural, Manojkumar Lohiya, said: “Our control room has a mobile number. Some of the information about the happenings is also posted on our main group from this number. Majority of our staff is on WhatsApp now and we are encouraging its use.”
Officers at the police stations have found this tool to be useful on their level too. Senior inspector Ram Jadhav, who is in-charge of the Dehu Road police station, said: “If we post a photo of a criminal on the WhatsApp group along with the name, we get immediate responses from officers from other police stations about other cases on the accused along with more details about the modus operandi. Official communication on this takes time, but through WhatsApp we can get leads faster and can start acting on them.”
Asked about the security issues about the data shared on WhatsApp, Pardeshi said, “Important voice communication and confidential information is sent through the wireless network and ciphers. WhatsApp has not replaced those methods but is an additional tool. We have also formed an informal group of police officers. Some of us write poems, some find out interesting facts, some come up with new ideas, and we share them on the groups. It also acts as a stress-buster.”