Every police force needs a man to do the dirty job, pull the trigger without asking questions or blinking an eyelid.
It is these men who have over the years come to be known as “encounter specialists”. Every police force at any given point of time has one such officer, an encounter specialist, who is looked upon by subordinates as a role model, the general public treats him as a hero and the mere mention of his name sends criminals trembling with fear or so it’s thought.
“Not everyone likes to take risks, play with guns, hobnob with criminals to get information. You don’t have a family life. All you get is threat calls and jealous colleagues. You have to learn to live with all this and much more,” an encounter specialists with over 50 “kills” to his name said.
This is probably the reason why we find on an average one-encounter specialist among 10,000 recruits.
“However, once you are part of the team you start loving it. Chasing gangsters, tracking terrorists gives you a thrill that cannot be compared with anything. You eat and drink with your team members and develop a bond. That becomes your social life,” he said.
“Everyone in the force knows. When you reach a crime spot, you get respect. Your seniors recommend your name for high-profile investigations,” he said.
“You can make out an encounter specialist in-the-making from their early days. They are aggressive, they love action and they dream big. These officers inspire confidence and true leaders who can make the toughest decisions in matter of seconds,” explained an inspector whose batch mate became an ACP when he was still a sub-inspector (SI).
Rewards, medals and recognition are their motivation. “Rewards can be in terms of money, out-of-turn promotions and gallantry medals. Social recognition is the biggest motivation for budding encounter specialists,” an officer said.
Most of these specialists join the force as sub-inspectors. They make a name for themselves during their early posting in districts cracking cases and are rewarded with transfers to specialised units like the special cell and the crime branch. For an officer in these units, sky is the limit,” the officer said.
“It’s tough to rise. No one is happy seeing an officer get out-of-turn promotions. Only those officers who have a solid network can survive. Others fizzle out. For this, you need to talk to gangsters and have your informers in various gangs. This too can be used against you as often there are allegations of criminal-police nexus,” the specialist said.
“We keep our own records, photographs of the accused, his associates, godfather, every bit of information that we need to know. Nowadays, it’s all about numbers. The team that gets the mobile phone numbers first is likely to succeed,” he said.
“We work as a team. Since not everyone can get a gallantry medal or an out-of-turn promotion, names of officers in the team are sent for awards by rotation and depending on their role,” he said.