Next time you pick a fight with a policeman asking you to blow into the breath analyser during a drink-driving check, beware. You are on tape.
Rattled by the spate of attacks by rogue and drunk motorists in recent times, the Mumbai police has come out with a string of measures that they believe will put a curb on such instances. Stealth body cameras, use of video cameras to catch action during special security checks (nakabandi) or regular checks against drunk driving… are some of the measures that are being put in place in a phased manner.
These measures, a highly placed source in the city police said, will not only help name and shame the offender/s, but bolster evidence in securing swift punishment to the delinquents by law courts.
To begin with, sources said, the Mumbai police commissioner last week issued orders to all 93 police stations to start using video cameras during nakabandis. Every police station in the city has at least one video camera (recorder) that is used for crime scene investigations (CSIs). Following the fresh directive from the commissioner, many police stations have already started videographing security checks also.
Police commissioner Dattatreya Padsalgikar confirmed that police stations have been asked to record major nakabandis using video cameras. “Many more plans are in the pipeline,” he said when askedabout the move to allot body cams to policemen to deal with aggressive offenders.
Meanwhile, a senior inspector from a police station in the western suburbs, who spoke requesting anonymity, said that drunk and rogue motorists often become aggressive when stopped. “First, they will get into an argument with the police to get rid of the impending penalty. If that was not enough, they will drop names and flaunt their connections. If the policemen did not budge and prosecuted the offender, he/she would then either attack the police or level all sorts of allegations over the social media,” the officer said, adding, “such instances would be avoided if the events were caught on tapes. It will not only instil fear in the minds of potential law breakers, but help get conviction when the matter is tried in a court. It will also curb instances of corruption by the policemen concerned.”
However, knowing well that a solitary video recorder will be of little benefit to police stations organising checks at various points in their jurisdiction, spanning several square kilometre areas, on any given day, the police administration plans to provide body cameras to personnel on field duty in the next phase of the scheme.
Sources said each police station will be provided with 5-10 such concealed cameras, depending on the station’s operational areas. According to suggestions, while a couple of cameras will be fitted to patrolling vehicles to record street crimes, one each would be given to the two woman beat marshals (Charlie) who respond to distress calls from women, children and senior citizens, apart from patrolling the peripheries of schools and colleges. The rest would be allotted to constables/officers deployed on nakabandis and anti-drink driving duties.
Sources said the police are planning to use two different variants of body camera that are used by security forces across the world. Both the variants are wearable tools. The first one is a button which starts recording when clicked twice, while the other can be attached to the cap (headgear) or the collar of the policeman using a mount.
Keeping in mind that the cameras have little storage space, the day’s footage would be downloaded to a larger storage area and only the relevant portions would be saved, sources added.
“As and when necessary, the footage will put to use, be it in proving the case against the offender, or countering the frivolous allegations we often face while discharging our duty,” sources added.