THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It has been just a month since the city police floated a WhatsApp number under the TC-Vigil initiative for the residents to send violations they come across in the city. The distress message which arrived in the WhatsApp number mentioned how vehicles parked on the sidewalk created risk for blind students, who have to sometimes walk on the road as there was no space on the footpath.
“We received the message saying the entire footpath was occupied by vehicles. The vehicles were removed following the complaint. But by evening we received another message saying the vehicles have been parked there. And that is when placed a taped cone on that stretch,” says K Sanjay Kumar Gurudin, city police commissioner.
The Whatsapp number gives a platform for the public to share traffic offences or complaints. The larger aim is to create deterrence among the people. “I wasn't interested about getting the offences to the police station. My idea was that once popular, the people will be deterred to commit a crime assuming they are watched and that the act could be documented and sent to police,” says Sanjay.
The TC-Vigil is Sanjay Kumar's pet project, much like the 'CC Vigil' which is running successfully in Kozhikode. “The number 100 always existed. But there was no WhatsApp number where people could send a video or photo,” he says. The very purpose was to give a platform for the citizens.
“We have several cameras in the city. There are many police personnel deployed at various points which is not sufficient to cover all the offences. People get to know where the cameras are and where the officers have been positioned. So there are no deterrents. So I thought if we circulate this number and people are sensitised, they can document and send the offence to this number and it will create some kind of a deterrent,” Sanjay.
The number is active round the clock. More than 1,200 complaints have been received till now. Around 80 complaints are received on a daily basis. A special arrangement has been made to monitor this WhatsApp number which is overseen by four policemen.
The police are also giving away Good Samaritan certificates on a weekly basis to best respondents. “The idea is to motivate more people to come forward. The identity of the complainants is kept confidential. It is like being a vigilant citizen. It will ensure that I will have a lot many eyes across the city and people will be deterred to commit any crime,” says Sanjay Kumar. The WhatsApp number is 9497975000.