CHENNAI: On the defensive after the spike in crime rate, the Chennai City Police have decided to hit the streets, literally. The force is returning to its roots of bicycle patrol, which would increase the ir presence on the streets and take them closer to the public.
It would also allow the police personnel to sneak up to the miscreants at night, those who would otherwise bolt at the sight or sound of a patrol vehicle.
Speaking to Express, a mid-level official with the city police said 250 bicycles had been brought in the first phase, which are likely to be distributed to local police stations on Thursday.
“The main aim of reintroducing bicycle patrolling is for policemen to gain access to the narrow streets where the patrol vans and bikes cannot reach. The constable at each station will be equipped with the cycle,” he added.
The city has 135 local police stations. Each will be equipped with five bicycles. Pointing out that most housebreaks are reported only at night, the officer said the miscreants were alerted by the sound of the patrol van and bike.
“By using bicycles, the police personnel will be able to curb such incidents,” said the officer.
Several criminal incidents have been reported in the city recently, including the murders of an RTI activist and three lawyers. A few days ago, Infosys techie Swathi was killed by an unidentified man at Nungambakkam Railway Station, putting policemen on high alert.
Experienced police officers said such big crimes could not be avoided by bicycle patrolling. But more common matters such as illegal parking and eve-teasing could be monitored with the help of this old-style of policing.
However, some personnel expressed apprehensions over the move, noting that the security of the man on patrol would be at risk.
“The miscreants these days are armed with weapons and use motorbikes that are above 200 cc. In such cases, patrolling on the bicycle is dangerous,” said a senior police officer.
“Most of the chain and mobile phone-snatching incidents are reported only during the day, till about 10 pm. It is impractical to expect the personnel to chase them on bicycles,” the officer added. “This style of patrolling could be useful as a workout and will be a good exercise for them,” he quipped.