Looking into terror threats is our priority, says Mumbai police commissioner
In a freewheeling chat with Hindustan Times, Padsalgikar talks about the new challenges and how they have adopted technology to help them solve cases.Updated: Feb 07, 2018 10:38 IST
The police are consistently trying to be citizen-friendly to provide better service to the people, says Mumbai police commissioner DD Padsalgikar.
In turn, the Mumbai police ask citizens to cooperate by being alert and more responsible. This will help make policing easier and more effective, he said. In a freewheeling chat with Hindustan Times, Padsalgikar talks about the new challenges and how they have adopted technology to help them solve cases.
What are the challenges of modern-day policing, especially with the influx of social media?
The social media, because of the anonymity it provides, sometimes poses a challenge. But, we see its positive side, the wide reach and the advantages. Social media has made communication faster. We have around 4.2 million followers on Twitter —possibly the largest for any police force in the world. Our Twitter team engages with citizens daily across various age groups and has initiated campaigns on drink- driving, drug-related issues and cybercrime. We have also used Twitter as a platform where complaints can be filed 24x7. This has helped instil faith among citizens to a large extent.
How has the emergence of high-resolution closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera technology changed crime detection? Does it act as a credible deterrent? What are the realistic advancements we can expect in the coming year and beyond?
The CCTV cameras have helped us a lot, especially during big protests such as the Maratha morcha. It has also helped us during major festivities where we need to control crowd. It helps us decide the number of personnel to be deployed. The personnel are briefed about the situation and the measures, which simplifies policing and makes it more effective. The technology has also helped us solve crimes. CCTVs have started to act as a deterrent. It is primarily because many criminals are still not aware of the presence of cameras. We have around 5,000 CCTVs and we plan to strengthen the network.
Gone are the days when you saw the underworld fighting it out on the streets. What are the reasons for the dip in street crimes?
Almost all gangsters are not active as they used to be because of action taken over a period of years. Although the traditional organised crime is under control, we have been keeping a strict vigil on them. When it comes to street crimes, we keep a watch on habitual criminals and those released from the jail. Invoking the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against criminals and intensifying patrolling have helped us curb crimes to a large extent. In 2013, we had 2,078 chain-snatching cases. Last year, we had only 169 cases, which is a considerable drop.
What measures are being taken to reduce crimes against women which are on the rise? Is Mumbai still as safe for women or is it becoming another Delhi?
The statistical increase in crimes against women is more to do with the awareness we have created. This has helped people report crimes. I have personally asked each police station to treat cases against women, children and senior citizens on a priority.
Cybercrimes are a new challenge for the police. What measures have you taken to thwart a possible cyberattack, considering there are key vital installations in the city?
Cybercrimes have been on the rise and this is why we have created cyber units in each of the police station. We are setting up four more cyber police stations with 50 well-trained personnel each. A special authority has been formed by the government to specifically handle cyber threats.
Mumbai has one of the lowest per capita deployment of police
personnel among all the major cities in the world. For a population of 15 million, we have only around 100 police stations. Do you think there is a need to augment the force strength?
New York’s police force strength is the same as Mumbai. Technologically, they are far ahead and its population is much lower than Mumbai. If you lose a mobile phone in New York, the police will ask you to approach a general insurance company. We cannot do that in Mumbai. We are in a different league when it comes to crime. We cannot keep recruiting endlessly. We have to match the force with technology which will effectively help us in improving policing.
How terror-ready are we? Do we have the adequate training and weapons? Considering that bulletproof vests failed quality test, are the Mumbai police planning any other procurement?
Mumbai has always been on the radar and we look into terror threats as our foremost priority. Our quick reaction teams are well-trained and well-equipped. The anti-terrorist cells at each police station are our eyes and ears. We have also formed Force 1, which is comparable to a SWAT team. We are supplemented with the National Security Guards which is prepared for any kind of response. As far as procurements are concerned, we have to constantly upgrade and Force 1 is the nodal agency which keeps making requisite amends.
Singapore has a population of 5.5 million, but its security and safety are among the best in the world. In 2016, it had 135 crime-free days, with not even petty crime being reported. Can Mumbai achieve this?
Singapore has a different set of laws which are very stringent. For example, one can be sentenced to death in Singapore if found carrying 10 grams of heroin. In India, we have different laws. Also, the judicial process in Singapore is much faster. Having said that, last year in Mumbai we did not have a single case where a firearm was used. This is a significant change.