Things that make you to Think

Beat Policing/ Making the streets safer

The Cover story about the newly introduced Beat Policing- a unique way for the police to reach out to civilians and provide better service in the capital.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has recently launched Beat Policing in the capital to extend their service to civillians, reaching out to them more, and to ensure the accountability of police. With this initiative, the DMP officials expect to establish a close and friendly relationship between civillians and police, and relay the message that people can now find police at their door any time, should the need arise.

After seeing the success of beat policing in many countries, DMP decided to try it out in Dhaka, starting with an experimental project in Dhaka’s Wari last year. As the end results came out to be positive, DMP decided to officially instigate beat policing in the entire city.

In beat policing system, a beat is a territory that a police officer patrols at a fixed time of the day. This system utilises the close relationship between the patrolling police and the community within the assigned beat to strengthen security and encourage cooperative efforts.

DMP’s initiative to introduce beat policing has generated mixed reaction among general people. While some appreciate DMP’s effort to ensure a better and safer city, others claim to have little or no idea about what beat policing means.

Arif Ahmed, a student of the University of Dhaka (DU), says, “Everyday, as I go home at night, I have to worry about getting mugged on the way home. But now I’m hopeful that it will get better because of beat policing.”

Mozammel Haq, a businessman who lives at the capital’s Mirpur 10, says, “Being a businessman, I know about beat policing, but there are many people who do not know about it due to lack of publicity.  Moreover, their service has not yet reached everyone.”

Regarding this issue, Moinul Hasan, senior assistant commissioner (AC) in Wari division, says, “Beat police officers will go door to door, which will make people aware of the system, and we are close to that goal. In some cases, those who were not at home at the time of patrol did not get to know about beat policing, but they will be contacted soon enough.”

The main objective of DMP for employing beat policing is to create a cordial and cooperative relationship between police and general people, ensure a safe environment for children and women, extend services to the poor and underprivileged people, take preventive actions against crime and finally collect information about various crimes that goes on around the city.

In order to effectively employ beat policing, each thana (police station) under DMP is divided into several territories based on population density, crime tendency and the number of streets and localities within the jurisdiction of that thana. As mentioned before, each of these territories is called a beat.

When asked how the manpower will be distributed in beat policing system, Shudip Kumar Chakraborty, a special assistant to the police commissioner, says, “One sub-inspector (SI) will be assigned to patrol in each beat area and will be assisted by an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) or constable. However, in each thana, two to four SIs will be kept out of the responsibility of beat policing in order to keep the regular activities of the police station in order.”

The inspector for investigation will be responsible for the management of beat policing. The officer-in-charge (OC) of the thana will coordinate how things go on in his area of jurisdiction, while AC (Zone) and AC (Patrol) will monitor the system, a source tells this reporter.

Rafiqul Islam, inspector of investigation at Shahbag thana, says, “The main goal of beat police officers is to collect information about various criminal groups that are at large in their assigned beat areas, namely Oggan Party, Molom Party, along with many other gangs that are involved in robbing, mugging, drug dealing and other organised crimes as well as eve-teasers and random offenders. Based on the collected information, they are required to prepare a list of the crimes and criminals prevalent in their respective areas of duty.”

“On the basis of their reports, police will take effective action in those beats,” he adds. In addition, the patrolling officers are required to make a list of business organisations as well as residences in their beats and collect contact details from the business officials, managers and house owners so that they can communicate with the locals in order to ensure safety.

According to DMP journal, the beat police will maintain contact with the Community Police Forum (CPF) and other organisations. They will work to keep the law and order situation under control by holding regular meetings with people in order to exchange opinions and learn about their problems.

Beat police will also prepare a list of educational institutions, mosques, madrassas, other prayer hosues and slums. A separate log will also be kept on politicians, people under surveillance and the number of floating people.

Inspector Rafiqul Islam says, “The beat police officer will maintain the law and order situation in his assigned beat area and will be responsible if the situation deteriorates. He will be the first to inform his OC about his actions to keep the law and order situation under control and will ask for necessary assistance from the OC.

“Through this system, police can get closer to people, which will help to build a friendly relationship between the police and people. This will also help to develop leadership qualities in junior police officers,” he adds.

Many police officials and people believe that, through this process, police have a great opportunity to reach out to people more, and for this crimes can be controlled and prevented to a greater extent.

Akbar Ali, a service holder at Mohammadpur, says, “We, the general people, usually have bitter experiences about police and their activities. Many steps have been taken in the past to bring police force closer to common people, to make them believe that police is their friend, but that, unfortunately, never happened.

“All I can say is that we are still hoping for better services from the police without any harassment, because we need them, and we want them as our friend. Now it is upon them; let’s see what they will do,” he concludes.

Read the magazine Morning Tea

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