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Policing Stress: Bangaloreans look at police with disdain

Friday, 1 February 2013 - 5:41pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

The public’s behaviour toward policemen has vastly corroded their morale, as the common policeman inevitably feels his work is not acknowledged and that it is a thankless profession he has been sucked into.

If the police are low on morale despite putting in long hours of thankless work, that too for a low pay, a large part of that loss of morale is attributed to the way we, the citizens, look at our policemen — with a guarded resistance to their nature of work and sheer hatred. The reason, according to the police, is that the citizens consider police work as authoritarian as largely policing restricts citizens from doing what they freely want to do.

Consider this case: A lady executive of a five-star hotel who was walking alone on the desolate Milk Colony bridge that connects Malleswaram with Subramanyanagar, was stopped by a police constable who was passing on a bike. He questioned her as to why she was walking alone at that hour and informed her that is is too dangerous at that time of the night to walk alone. The woman, instead of thanking him for his dutiful concern towards her safety began shouting expletives at the policeman, asking him what right he had to question her.

But the woman failed to realise that the policeman was actually doing his duty and that the questioning — which she admitted was polite — was part of the police work. Only when a couple of passers-by stopped to enquire was she informed that had she been victimised by lustful men taking advantage of a lone woman walking on the bridge, it would be the policeman who would face the stick the next day as that was his jurisdiction of patrolling.

Unfortunately, the ilk of those two passersby is a sad minority which actually understands the value of policing. This case which occurred a couple of months ago, proved beyond doubt how we look at policemen with hatred — even toward those who actually do their duty to ensure people’s safety.

However, this nature of public’s behaviour toward policemen has vastly corroded their morale. It significantly adds to the stress of the policeman who inevitably feels his work is not acknowledged and that it is a thankless profession he has been sucked into.

“When I was in service, a professor from Mysore university wrote a letter to me citing police corruption in the university campus. A traffic cop had stopped him while riding a motorcycle without a helmet and carrying two pillion riders. The professor alleged that the police constable would not leave them but did so only after paying Rs100 as bribe. I told the professor, the violation was more by him because he was willing to pay the bribe. And still the people blame police,” said retired assistant commissioner of police BK Shivaram.

A traffic police constable from east division confided with DNA: “What I notice is that the citizens view the police as their biggest enemy. Be it drink-driving or any legal violation, people do not want to accept their mistakes. Once I stopped a person who jumped the traffic signal. I stopped his car and asked him to show his documents."

"When he didn’t, I asked him to pay the fine amount of Rs100. That man immediately called up my superiors and complained about me saying I stopped him with out reason and that I was demanding a bribe. My superiors then spoke to me over his phone and instructed me to leave the person without harassing him. But I was just doing my duty.”

Constables whom DNA spoke to said in most cases they are made to feel like villains in spite of doing their duty. There have even been cases in which influential people boasting of close connections with senior police officials, ministers and bureaucrats have beaten up the policemen stopping them for violations.

The public hate the police because the duty performed by the police is unpleasant for them. The police insist on people not breaking the, and that is not liked by most people. People see policemen in their day to day lives. For example, if a burglary is taken place in a house, they call police. Although the police have worked promptly, arrested the culprit and produced him before the court, the trial goes on for a long time duration and only after many years, the thief is convicted. But the people blame the delays on the police. I also agree that over the years, all is not well with the police. The indifference, independence and negligence has seeped into the police department. The superior officials have to look into it.
—T Madiyal, retired DGP

People are crazy about violating rules. There are many incidents wherein people who violate rules/laws proudly share that experience with their friends about how they made a fool of the police. Many people do not have civic sense. If everything was well, why would the police even try to speak to the citizens. On the other hand, I also say that all the policemen are not prompt. But that is because of the workload, pressure and the sense of being powerful that they sometimes misbehave with the public.
—BK Shivaram, retired ACP, 

Police are not respected by the public because of the nature of their job. If the police are polite and pleasing to the public, no one will listen to him. Hence the police have to be a little pushy while telling people to follow the laws. The media too projects policemen as bad, corrupt characters. The society should understand that no policeman targets any citizen who does not violate laws. It is the responsibility of the society to treat the police with respect. Good work should be appreciated. In many foreign countries, people praise the police. Since there are a few policemen who behave badly, I would also like to tell the police that we are not here to rule. We are here to serve the people.
—Jeevan Kumar Goankar, retired ADGP

Public hate police because the police appear to be putting brakes on their personal lives, and people see it as a restriction on their freedom.
Early in the life of a person, he/she is impressed upon looking at a policeman negatively. When a mother forces her child to drink milk, and the kid refuses, she threatens him by saying ‘I will call the police’. This puts the police in poor light for the child and that impression grows with the individual.”
—T Suneel Kumar, Additional Commissioner of police (law and order)

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