The city police’s morale is low, but it is not all Arup Patnaik’s fault. It was a battered, beleaguered force even when he took over as chief 18 months ago, said officers with the Mumbai police.
From the lack of decent homes to live in and the lack of basic amenities at staff quarters to struggling to afford their children’s education, the police force has been facing a host of problems, and they blame them on the skewed hierarchy and absolute lack of support from senior officers.
The slow erosion of one of the finest police forces in the country was not an overnight phenomenon – it started almost a decade ago.
And the damage has been considerable ever since RR Patil took over as home minister, said several police officers, who served the force for more than two decades.
“This same force was effective at a time when there was no advanced technology and having a telephone at home was a status symbol. In those days, the policemen maintained a record of every activity in their locality,” said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
A senior crime branch officer said: “There was a time when we used to know what Balasaheb Thackeray had discussed in private. But this was also the time when the senior police officer at the special branch would brief the chief minister. Today, a posting to the special branch is considered as punishment.”
Officers believe the government played a big hand in destroying the force’s efficiency. “The government did not want us to do what we did best, and created unwanted hierarchies, which slowly created a rift in the force,” the officer said.
“For policemen in the 1990s or 2000s, duty was synonymous to responsibility. For these same men, duty has now become an obligation, a job, a task,” said another officer.