Leaves for birthday, anniversary to keep Kochi cops stress-free

The city police’s decision to chart a new course comes amid concerns regarding high work pressure and rise in stress-induced suicides in the police force.
Representative Photo
Representative Photo

KOCHI: Birthdays in their family, wedding anniversaries or a family function, Kochi city police personnel will be able to enjoy all these events without having to worry about work.

The city police, in an exemplary move, has decided to sanction leave liberally on such occasions to its officers, in a move aimed at ensuring proper life-work balance.

The city police’s decision to chart a new course comes amid concerns regarding high work pressure and a rise in stress-induced suicides in the police force.

The new policy with ‘five unquestionable off days’ per year will let officers claim a leave for special occasions without inviting any objections.

Kochi city police commissioner S Syamsundar had instructed the welcome change and allowed officers in the city limits to take leave on special days, including their or their family members’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries, family functions, and the like. Those who are unable to avail even the 15 casual off days they are entitled to, can claim all these off days, said a source with the police.

“I issued the directive in February after assuming office as the city police commissioner. However, it received wider appreciation following my recent speech at the inauguration of the police association’s anniversary,” said Syamsundar.

The move was proposed considering the welfare of the officers, he said, adding, “As a force that works well beyond eight hours, most officers cannot even attend a special event in their family. If you consider festive days like Onam, Vishu, Eid, and Christmas, most of them are for special duties.”

M V Nishad, an officer with the Ernakulam Central police station, said the implementation of the new leave policy is a huge relief for personnel from their highly stressful work environment.

‘New leave policy a huge relief for cops’

“Increasing the strength of the squad and regularising duty time have been the entire police force’s demands for years. Amid the problems, the new leave policy is a huge relief,” he said. The directive is highly appreciable in nightlife cities like Kochi, where the police are alerted both day and night, he said.

Nishad, a Kerala Police Officers Association (KPOA) office-bearer, also appreciated the commissioner’s interventions on the proposals forwarded by police associations.

Dr Druhin A V, professor, psychiatry department at Pariyaram Medical College, Kannur, welcomed the directive, saying “It is a splendid move by the authorities to provide relaxation to the most stress-experiencing group in society. It will help low-ranking officers who often face brickbats from superiors.” Even a simple recognition from the police station can change the stress status of a cop, Druhin said.

Representative Photo
Abuse, workload leading to mental health issues in force: Kerala police association

On stress-induced suicides in the force, Dr Druhin said, “As a part of the system, a tiny problem at the superiors’ level may reflect on low-ranking officers. Most of them don’t reveal their problems even to their loved ones. It may lead to depression and a tendency to end life. We can diminish it through awareness on stress management, adding relaxation programmes to officers’ schedule, and placing them in the desired atmosphere.”

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