Disappointing and scary stories of police apathy is quite common but take heart, not the entire police force is like that. There are many officers who not only do their job efficiently but are also willing to go the extra mile to ensure your safety. We caught up with Senior Inspector Sharad Barde of Cuffe Parade police station and was glad to know the tenets they work by: Polite, Obedient, Loyal, Intelligent, Courageous and Eager to help.
At the very outset of our discussion, Barde modestly says, “We are just doing our jobs, that is all.” Yet the positive effect of his police force is evident in the fact that residents of the area candidly admit feeling safer. Barde and his team have chalked out ways and means of doing their job effectively and one way is communication.
Safety through communication
Barde says, “Communication between the force and the residents is essential. Both need to interact with each other on a regular basis. We bond with residents through events, where we make the residents aware of their rights and how they can help us beef up the security of the area.” Barde and his team also go to events to provide security, lest something untoward happens.
Healthy relationships lead to safety
This police force believes that it is essential to build good reciprocal relationships with residents. Barde points out, “In our country, the common man fears the police; it should not be like this. We are here to help the common man. Interacting with people is our biggest strength. We hear out issues and try to provide solutions. It is encouraging that it is not just a one-way conversation–sometimes the residents themselves come up with solutions.”
Ensuring the safety of children
Barde and his team also reach out to children and make them aware of complex issues like abuse and kidnapping. Barde elaborates, “These days there are a lot of cases of child molestation and kidnapping. In most of cases the child is scarred for life, physically and/or mentally. It is not just the adults who need to be careful, even children need to know and be aware of these things. Hence we have been trying to maximise interaction with children by speaking to them and making them aware of such dangers. Sometimes we even try to educate them of these social evils through skits and drawing competitions.”
Another reason for interacting with children is to eliminate their fear of the police and teach them to trust the police. The same procedure of interaction is followed with regard to women. Barde says, “Our officers also make it a point to interact with women by talking to them, listening to their queries, and addressing their concerns.”
Talking about safety and security, Barde says, “We have beat marshals and police vans patrolling the area 24X7. Apart from that we also go to a lot of mohalla meetings, where we tackle any security issue that happens to crop up. I tell my team that a positive approach is very important. It helps to boost the confidence of the team and make them do their very best.”
The other side
Most Cuffe Parade residents are full of praises for Barde and his team. Aarti Wadhwani says, “The crime rate in our area has gone down, and people’s attitude towards the police has also changed. Earlier residents were somewhat apprehensive of the police, but now that they are doing such a good job, people have started respecting them. One good thing is that they have become very approachable. They are helpful, pro-active and very soft spoken. They do not misbehave with complainants; no matter how small the issue, they always help us sort it out. As far as safety and security are concerned, we really think the police out here is doing a good job in maintaining law and order.”
Ashok Patel, secretary of Maker Arcade Shopping Centre, says, “The police here is very effective. Since the time Senior Inspector Barde has come, there have been zero thefts in the area. The best part is that the team visits the shopping arcade very often in order to keep a lookout for untoward incidents. Sometimes they even carry out terrorist-attack drills. We are very happy with the way the police runs things in this area.”