Police need empathy and support, not condemnation 3

Policemen get lynched by crowds while handling disturbances, killed by Naxals, run over by motorists while jumping signals or beaten up by people when flagged down for drunken driving or overspeeding. Rarely does civil society raise its voice when policemen are beaten up or killedby our own citizens.Asociety where policemen beat up its citizens cannot be called a civil society. A nation where uniformed policemen are beaten or lynched by itsown peoplecannotbecalled a civilized nation either.
Condemning police has become the order of the day. While no one can justify the high-handedness of police or deny the need to deal with this with a heavy hand, merely condemning is not going to make things better. We have to address the genesis of the problem rather than cursethe symptoms.
Police work under tremendous constraints and limitations. Society expects police to deliver more and more with less and less resources and legitimate authority. No doubt, the mindset of police needs to change but so does that of society. The plight of average policeman may be pathetic but they will always be perceived as the coercive arm of government which either uses excessive force against agitators or is blamed for being inactive while dealing with disturbances. If they take preventive action, it’s seen as interference with civil rights. If they don’t, it’s seen as dereliction of duty.
Even when the discussions are about public apathy towards helping an accident or rape victim, the blame is deflected to police. Like a compass that always points north, our society has a flair for putting every blame on police. The fear of harassment is rather overstated. Without disputing the existence of such harassment, when the situation demands, citizens have to rise to the occasion. They have to intervene and take a victim to hospital, irrespective of police harassment that may follow.They must,however, agitate and raise their voice against such harassment. There are a hundred people put to inconvenience but millions take shelter behind such excuses and abdicate their duty.
Strangely, we try to solve complex issues through tweets, likes, signatures, petitions, candlelight marches and SMSes. These are the easiest ways to create the right noises but symbolism alone can’t changethesituation.Unfortunately, allthesesentiments aretargeted at others and absolve oneself of responsibility. Blaming everything on police is a convenient alibi. Society should also accept its flaws and introspect.
Without active public participation, the task of police becomes even more difficult. Police needs massive reforms, capacity building, sensitization, legitimate empowerment, improvement in working conditions and facilities. But, it also needs support, understanding and empathy of civil society.
Praveen Sood
(The writer is Addl DGP, Police Computer Wing, Karnataka. The views expressed are personal)

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3 thoughts on “Police need empathy and support, not condemnation

  1. Reply purnachandra tejaswi Aug 27, 2013 6:28 am

    true sir

  2. Reply Chandan Kundapur Sep 2, 2013 2:32 pm

    Praveen Sood sir, I have worked under the guidance of many of your traffic officers , some good and some not so, as a Warden . I can empathise with them as I have faced the ire of public on many occasions.Be it during regular enf, DD or in traffic management. I realise that most work under what can be termed as gross violation of basic working rights ! On one particular enf , I had 100 INR thrown at my face and a obsene gesture made when I stopped a bike that was being driven triples !
    At the same time, I can tell you that most of my friends and family don’t sympathise with the police . Its incidences like these that lead to the perception
    This incidence is just an example. As my dad says , he’s been to station thrice ( for passport verification ) and every time the interaction has been rude and the sole intention of the verifying officer has been to make cash out of the verification
    When every touch point with the police includes a bad memory like this, people tend to get diabolical towards every police man out there .

  3. Reply Pradip Sep 4, 2013 4:46 am

    Absolutely, we need to treat Police as our fellow citizens. It seems to me that the hangover of pre-independence is still present during which, the Indian citizens used to taken on the British Raj.

    However, I feel the police should take the first step in having a conversation with the citizens. Maybe, invite school children to Police Station on Children’s day. Have once in 3 month meetings at schools & colleges or at residential layout/ apartment. A pilot project can be done in one of jurisdictional police stations; if successful, take it to other stations.

    Thanks for sharing your views and creating this website. Truly appreciate!

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