Patrolling the sea is a tough job and proper training is necessary. But the city’s coastal police are at the mercy of agencies like the coast guard and Indian Navy for their training. Sometimes, police swimming pools are used to train the staff.
In 2013, the coastal police found that around 150 of its officers did not know how to swim.
The training part has suffered largely because the state government’s plan for a coastal academy in Raigad district had to be shelved after the Union government decided to set up the academy in Gujarat once the BJP came to power at the Centre.
Of the many problems faced by the Mumbai police while patrolling the sea, sea sickness tops the list.
Several boats have not been maintained and there is a constant fear of them turning turtle at sea.
Patrolling in the rain is also a major issue because the sea is rough.
Also, the police say often their boats break down and getting new parts is a long and tedious process. For instance, the 16-odd amphibious boats that the Mumbai police purchased after the 26/11 terror attacks are in a bad state. The city police had to put carburetors (regulates the flow of air and gasoline into the engine cylinders of vans and spark plugs belonging to an Ambassador car to keep them moving.
A senior police officer from the city police, on condition of anonymity, said there needs to be a separate wing for sea patrolling. He said after the 26/11 terror attacks, a senior officer had opposed the move to keep coastal policing with the Mumbai police, but the state government had asked the police to follow the orders.
For training, the Mumbai police’s coastal wing undergoes a month-long course in swimming at the Coast Guard’s pool in Worli or at the naval facility at Colaba. These policemen are then asked to patrol boats on shifts, which go on for a week.
“The current state of affairs is detrimental for the security of the country. Currently, the threat perception from across the border is less as Pakistan is busy tackling terror on its own land. However, after the situation changes, the threat will rise again. There is a negative attitude, red tapeism and lack of accountability,” said YP Singh, an IPS officer-turned-lawyer.