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Community Policing in J&K

DGP’s Public Outreach Programme must be replicated by SPs, SHOs
12:00 AM Feb 03, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
community policing in j k
DGP RR Swain addressing a press conference in Jammu on Saturday. Mir Imran for Greater Kashmir
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The Director General of J&K Police (DGP) R R Swain soon after assuming his charge few months back announced that he will hold two-hour public grievance meetings, twice every month. The DGP started his public grievance redressal program from Srinagar and then held another one at Jammu. This was followed by several other programmes in Srinagar, Jammu and at district level as well. Recently he held a grievance camp in South Kashmir as well. On December 16th 2023 around 300 persons attended the public grievances redressal camp at PHQ Srinagar. Aggrieved citizens who visit these grievance redressal camps appreciated the DGPs approach and social media , news channels carried several such interviews.

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These public outreach programmes are unique and previous DGPs were not focussed on such interactions and that is why these meetings continue to receive an overwhelming response. In PHQ Jammu on December 23rd 2023 DGP met the public for 5 hours and during this time he met with 237 individuals, including women and senior citizens. In many cases the DGP issued on-spot orders to various police wings to ensure redressal of the grievances.

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Community Policing

The DGPs interaction with aggrieved citizens is not only meant to address their grievances but he gets a great public feedback as well about functioning of the police department and its different units. These meetings with different people from different backgrounds and areas give it a shape of Community Policing which is held in collaboration and partnership with the community as a whole. The essence of community policing is to reduce the gap amongst the police and citizens to such a degree that the policemen become a combined part of the community which they serve. They get recognition and confidence from the society which further results in unstructured collaboration and cooperation from the people. The community policing does bridge the gap between aam admi and police but at the same time this sends warning signals to the criminal elements as well. Due to lack of interaction between common man and police , the blue-eyed people or influential people get access to police which is not at all good for better policing. This leads to corruption and favouritism as common man feels isolated and develops negative perceptions about police, especially at Thana level.

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Community Policing first demands that everyone in the police department and the civilians must investigate ways to translate the philosophy of power-sharing into practice. This demands making a subtle but sophisticated shift so that everyone in the department understands the need to focus on solving community problems in creative, and often ways, that can include challenging and enlightening people in the process of policing themselves.

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Community policing implies a shift within the department that grants greater autonomy (freedom to make decisions) to line officers, which also implies enhanced respect for their judgment as police professionals. Within the community, citizens must share in the rights and responsibilities implicit in identifying, prioritizing, and solving problems, as full-fledged partners with the police.

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Public trust

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The community involvement in policing has a tremendous importance for building public trust and increasing police capabilities to fight crime. This will also help to build an effective police public relation as well . The important and key element in community policing is to build public trust and the proven path to this is right composition of the Civil Society Committees, and by having regular meetings attended by both the public and police. I would appreciate it if the initiative taken by DGP R R Swain is replicated at thana level , sub division level or district level as well. It needs dedicated meetings between police and public spirited citizens held at least once or twice a month. Such meetings will help promote cooperation between the police and the public in fulfilling the needs of the community regarding policing. This will also promote communication between the police and the community and improve the rendering of police services to the community at the state, district and local level. Lastly, it will improve transparency and accountability of the police before the community and promote joint problem identification and problem-solving by the police and the community. At a time when Jammu & Kashmir is facing several societal challenges like drug abuse , substance use , cyber crime , burglary, criminal intimidation etc the relationship between law enforcement agencies especially the J&K Police and the communities needs to be strengthened. The concept of community policing emerges as a beacon of hope and a transformative approach to law enforcement.

Conclusion

The public grievance redressal camps held by DGP R R Swain at Police Headquarters in Srinagar and Jammu & other districts, is indeed appreciable. The incumbent DGP who is known for his honesty and uprightness has already made it clear that corruption and mis-governance in police force won’t be tolerated and I believe this is the right time our District Superintendents of Police –(SPs, SSPs) & Sub Divisional Police Officers-SDPOs and Station House Officers-SHOs should chalk out a strategy that focuses on developing relationships with community members. Traditional policing models have often left communities feeling disconnected, mistrustful, and marginalized. However, the tide is shifting as more law enforcement agencies acknowledge and recognize community policing across the world.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow.

He is Founder and Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir

RTI Movement

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