Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A police force stretched to it seams: How it can be redeemed

Now I am descending into serious the arm-chair critic role, so bear with me while lay my ideas(nothing but common sense out).
If the carnage in Mumbai proved anything , it was that the Mumbai police was ill equipped to deal with the terrorists that held the city to ransom for 60 hrs. Call it intelligence failure or systemic failure, it was definitely a failure of massive proportions.
And since its the Police who are supposed defend the failure will be rightly assigned to them.
There is no doubt that the Police lacked the weaponry, the protective equipment , the training or for that matter the organization to deal with such a situation.
We can only hope that these issues will be studied by someone a lot wiser than myself and addressed appropriately. I am going to do my bit and lay out what I think needs to be done(being constructive as opposed to purely crictical).
The one thing that has to be noted here is that Mumbai a city of 18million people has a police force of 40,000 or so which is, 1 cop for 45o opposed to NYC whic has approximately the same numbers policing a population of 8 million or so.
Also NYC does'nt have politicians like Raj Thakeray to deal with.
A simple search for the Mumbai police on wikipedia reveals an interesting fact. Mumbai has no commando/SWAT team . The closest thing they have are the Local armed Police or the Anti-Terror Squad(which is basically an investigative unit).
This is something that has to change fast. In fact its appalling that this state of affairs was allowed to continue, with Mumbai being in the cross hairs of the terrorists for so long.
Every cop in mumbai has to be armed with a weapon and must know how to use it.
This might seem like a no brainer, but it has to be said, since the of the a 60 or so cops present at CST station a majority were equipped with batons. We do not live in British India anymore, where the biggest threat a cop might have faced was a non-violent Gandhian trying to burn british merchandise.
Off duty cops must be encouraged to keep their small arms on them. You never know, that might be the difference in a terrorist attack in the future.
If we expect cops to lay down their lives to protect their fellow citizens, we have to atlast give them the kind of protective gear that would give them a chance.
Sufficient care has to be paid to the physical fitness of the cops. An hour every day of duty time must be set aside for physical fitness. Anyone who has seen a pot bellied cop in Mumbai knows why this would be needed.
A chain of command has to be identified for any such operations to take place in the future.
The police leadership is better off directing operations from a control room, than providing target practice to terrorists in the case of attack.
Wel thats all I have , feel free to add suggestions

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