One of the biggest challenges to effective policing in any state and this holds particularly true for a small state like Goa is the integrity of its state level constabulary.
Goa has had an extremely tumultuous run in with tainted cops across the years and across governments. Therefore the morass in the system is endemic.
DIG Vimal Gupta's "relieving" from the state and being sent back to Delhi isn't a routine transfer with the Chief Minister indicating that the officers conduct was unbecoming of a senior officer. The allegation is that he was offered a bribe by PSI Devyani Ambekar through another constable to close a departmental inquiry against her for corruption.
If even elements of these allegations have any substance the corruption muck would have travelled up to this extent up the chain of command for the first time. And that brings to the fore a whole new dimension to corruption in uniform.
The past has been murky with shameful stories of despicable conduct of the lower level constabulary. From misbehaving with women tourists, threatening them with arrest on drug and prostitution charges, forcing sex workers to have oral sex to alleged involvement with those faces serious drug peddling charges, the list of misdemeanors is long.
But while the cases stand tall in the hall of shame, what is less visible is how the landscape of the coastal belts, especially in Bardez and Pernem talukas has become so conducive to a cozy nexus allegedly between policemen posted in the area and those involved in activities ranging from conducting rave parties to drug peddling and prostitution in certain pockets. Without making any sweeping allegation that specific policemen are involved in this nexus, a broad generalisation can certainly be made that if drug peddlers still roam and occasional arrests are made and if drugs are freely available at electronic dance parties and sex workers are still rescued, then the police has allowed these activities to linger and thrive. And if that factual assumption can be made, then an element of graft and corruption is always linked to such activities.
However, in most cases, it is only a section of the force which tarnishes the force. But gradually, if this section is not eradicated or cleansed, then the quantum of the force which is linked to protecting illegal activities increases. And that is when the rot sets in. And when it goes from the lowest levels to the supervisory levels, the system of checks and balances erodes. And that is when the force starts decaying.
The system can be cleansed only if there are very strong deterrents in the form of not just suspension but criminal investigation which goes the distance. Moreover if the system of governance of a police force needs radical reform, it has to be purged from day to day government control not just in letter but inspirit. The police commissionerate system has been suggested.
But can we really say that in places (cities) which have the police commissionerate system, political interference is totally minimal? Irrespective of which system is followed police reform should mean giving the DGP the mandate to display zero tolerance to corruption, make him accountable to it and give him an absolute free hand to deliver. It is only then that lower level constabulary will respect their uniformed hierarchy and look upto their uniformed bosses and not political bosses.
And the same system will make uniformed bosses up the hierarchy uphold the principles of honest policing.