Prakash Mishra was heading the National Disaster Response Force when Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik handpicked him as director general police in July 2012.
More than 10 months into the job, Mishra, a 1977 batch officer, spoke to HT on his focus areas and other pressing issues of policing in the state.
What are the areas wherein policing in the state needs major improvement?
The strength of civil police has to increase and match with the growing population and multifarious demands and expectations of the people. Traffic control and highway policing are two other major areas where we have to improve.
Rural policing is another area which needs upgrading. We are in the process of substantially improving our forensic science capacity and reach.
What are your focus areas?
We have to shift focus from conventional crime to emerging patterns of crime. Our men are to be oriented towards not only investigation of economic and cybercrimes but also develop some capacity to intervene in preventing such crimes at the appropriate time.
Another focus area is to bring about sensitisation and a change in attitude while dealing with women, children, the elderly and weaker sections. We have introduced a scheme of community policing recently to get the police more close to the community.
Modernisation of means of policing is the buzz word at the moment. Your plan for the state police?
Modernisation is an ongoing process. We have achieved quite a lot in providing mobility, communication and arms and ammunition. We are now concentrating on upgrading training capacity, support to urban policing by way of proving modern control rooms, city surveillance systems and proper riot control equipment. Forensic services are being upgraded. Cybercrime cells are being established.
Till 2009, the state police didn't recruit officers at the level of deputy superintendent of police, which created shortage of police officers at midlevel in the state. How are you coping with the lack of manpower?
We had stopped direct recruitment of deputy superintendents of police in 1976 and have taken a decision to re-introduce it. Hopefully we will start recruiting soon.
This shortage has certainly affected our working and has put additional load on the superintendents of police. In some districts, we have managed to fill the gap by getting suitable officers from the central armed police forces.
Naxals are moving into new districts in Odisha. How are you tackling this?
Naxal activities which at one stage had affected 19 of our districts has been effectively contained. We have more or less freed 11 of these 19 districts. Two more districts are likely to be cleared soon.
The part bordering Chhattisgarh which was not very active has shown an upward trend in naxal activities. However we have now prepared ourselves in this area and are taking all measures to clear them early.
The Centre wants your services in Delhi on deputation. When are you coming to the capital?
I am always willing to work to the best of my abilities wherever and whenever I get an opportunity.