MAHRASHTRA POLICE SUMMIT : TOP POLICE OFFICERS TALK ABOUT CHALLENGES DURING PANDEMIC AND RISE OF NEW CRIMES
Maharashtra Police used extensive technology techniques to control pandemic and help citizens
New Delhi, February 25
The Maharashtra Police Summit on ‘Agile policing in times of pandemic’ brought key officers from Maharashtra Police talking on the challenges of police and rise of new form of crimes during the pandemic.
The COVID 19 pandemic brought an unprecedented challenge for the police to from assistance to enforcement of the law and order.
Maharashtra ADGP (L&O), Rajendra Singh said, “The police had to work in straight contact of people taking the direct risk in enforcing the lockdown and partial relaxations while ensuring the policemen were safe. We are short of 20,000 policemen in the state and with that strength, we had to motivate them to work24/7. 329policemen died while performing their duties with risk extended to their families. 45% of our strength was used to deal with the pandemic while other investigations were still on”.
Singh added that the biggest challenge for police was to keep their men safe and those in their families. The police lines were the policemen live where the residents used common washrooms which could become point of infection. The residents were moved to buildings where washrooms were separately available and isolated cells were provided for policemen infected with the virus. There are about 40,000 to 50,000 old police lines in Maharashtra with common washrooms.
Thane Police Commissioner, Vivek Phalsankar said, “Ever since the first case was reported from Pune, we had become alert and formed teams to ensure were were ready to work on the ground for prevention. We identified areas, slum pockets and those zones where cleaning is required and policemen stood on the ground with government officials to ensure timely cleaning. The big challenge was to control public movement specially for those stranded from pregnant women to senior citizens, students to migrant labourers. The tech savvy policemen were deployed who issued 1.5 lakhs of e passes for the same”.
Though the Maharashtra Police gave relaxation to the policemen above the age of 55, many turned up for the job to aid the police department which kept integrity and motivation of their colleagues intact, Phalsankar added.
34 deaths of policemen were reported while over 1800 were hospitalized in Thane District.
The official added that when restaurants and eateries were shut, the hunger of their own policemen on duty became a challenged which was met with providing timely food packets and clean water round the clock.
While talking about some quick and effective steps taken by Mumbai Police, Vishwas Nangre Patil Jt CP (L&O) Mumbai said, “We worked in three segments: awareness, education and enforcement. Since our policemen were direct contact with all citizens during bandobast and checking, we ensured their health is out priority. We immediately bought 3300 smart watches for them and connected the watches to our control room. If anyone’s blood pressure was up or blood oxygen was down, the control room used to check up on them. Most of the policemen on such duties live in Virar, Bhayender, Nalasopara, Navi Mumbai and used trains to travel to work. These men continued staying on duty without going for days”.
The Mumbai Police said they installed 7000 new CCTV cameras and made CCTV cameras compulsory for malls, banks, multiplexes and commercial areas which reportedly brought them 3000 more cameras in last two months to help monitor the post pandemic situation too.
99 policemen from Mumbai Police died while performing their duties, the officer added.
Patil added that though 40% traditional crimes reduced during the peak of pandemic but the new crimes saw a surge.
Brijesh Singh, Special IGP Maharashtra (Admin) said, “The surge of digitalization from people working from home to online studies, the cyber criminals got more activated than earlier. The databases of government, private sector, media and many others were breached. Lakhs of new websites in the name of Corona and Covid came up which were phishing attacks. The criminals got into hacking high security apps and got incriminating information in hand”.
Singh added that the Maharashtra Government gave importance to technology and impetus to upgrading the use of the same in policing. 47 cyber labs came up in Maharashtra for cyber forensics investigations. The policemen were trained for the digital investigations and several cases of cyber frauds, phishing, data breach, scams registered last year are being probed.
Adding on the same, Pimpri Chinchwad Police Commissioner, Krishna Prakash said, “The increase in use of internet brought even school children to commit crimes. In one case we registered, school children were found misusing the school website and booked under the Juvenile Justice Act. In our district, 59% phishing attacks increased and 14% increase was seen in fake news. We hence formed a social media handle to combat that. To regularize the watch on other criminals, we brought in ‘X trackers’ for externs. The specially enabled devices were given to the externs and they would get a trigger with a pop up of a camera to track his movement. Though we have enough technology but the police cannot work from home and has to face the risk”.
The country witnessed a total stoppage of the Indian Railways for the first time in several decades and that brought another challenge for railway police.
Speaking of the same, Quaiser Khalid CP Mumbai Railways said,” 70 to 80 lakhs of people travel in railways every day. The railways crimes showed a null figure in the peak pandemic however when the railways were started again not only the transport of migrant labourers was our aim but also controlling crime in those trains. During the running of Shramik Special trains, lakhs of labourers travelled to Northern India from Maharashtra and we had to check their identity, verify their documents and provide food and water throughout their journey. The policemen conducts checks from beginning to the destination of the labourers while controlling crowd that panicked initially”.
The officials said that when the country saw a decline in cases in last two to three months, February again showed a rise of cases in Maharashtra and opined that the citizens behaviour need to improve to control the pandemic.
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