BENGALURU: While community policing has a strong foothold in the districts of Karnataka, Bengaluru with a large migrant population, poses a different challenge when it comes to setting up the same in the city. With many areas witnessing a regular flow of migrant communities and employees in the IT sector who move their homes frequently, setting up communities is hard but necessary, police officers say.
According to Additional Commissioner of Police (East), Seemanth Kumar, community building was the need of the hour. “It should not be seen as an additional job for constables and it should be the ethos of policing,” he said. Supporting his views, Kumar’s counterpart in the West, BK Singh said, “For example, in Malleswaram, there is already a community formed among residents. Whereas new Bengaluru has more migrants and there is a need for community building by the constables in that beat.”
A possible solution exists in a pilot project which has been in place for some years now. In order to build up momentum to have a proper community policing initiative in place, Janaagraha, a city based NGO, has proposed the inclusion of their community policing initiative in the Karnataka Police Act. The initiative currently runs with the help of volunteers and residents, who are called Area Suraksha Mitras (ASM) who coordinate with the staff of 18 police stations. To scale it up, they intend to gradually hand over the initiative to the Bengaluru City Police (BCP).
“We did an end-line survey on the initial seven divisions and found that there was an improvement in the gap between police and citizens. One Janaagraha employee will be hired in each police station. ASMs raise awareness among residents to reduce crimes in the locality,” said Deepak Naik, associate manager of Community Policing for Janaagraha.
Once BCP takes charge of the entire initiative, Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) will be in charge of community policing following training by Janaagraha.Since the initiative was launched in 2013, there have been several success stories. Many of these include reuniting families with missing senior citizens or children;helping a woman suffering domestic abuse to register an FIR, and more.