Herald: Introducing EMPATHY in the KHAKI WORLD

Introducing EMPATHY in the KHAKI WORLD

24 Mar 2019 06:11am IST

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VIBHA VERMA

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24 Mar 2019 06:11am IST

Report by
VIBHA VERMA

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One man makes a positive change at Verna Police Station by encouraging a new way in which the police relate with the people. VIBHA VERMA speaks to the people behind the recent community policing initiative that is being implemented in the State

Community policing in Goa has received a boost from a non-government entity with ‘Crocs and Cops Community Policing Unit, ’ offering free service to the police force as part of its pilot project, a first of its kind in India.

The unit’s founder and trainer, Anish Quenim, has launched this year-long concept in his home State, while also pursuing a course in the United States in Law Enforcement in Hostage and Crisis Negotiation, Kidnap and Ransom Negotiation etc. 

“I realised that most escalation of extreme crime happens when early detection isn’t practiced. The idea of proactive policing doesn’t exist much in this country. Before I make my way back to the United States again next year to serve and continue my education, I wanted to voluntarily teach my own police this method of policing to assist them. Crocs and Cops helps in building relations with people (those in distress, those not in distress and those who could possibly be in distress). This itself enables proactive methods of crime management and if needed effective conduct during crime management,” he explained, as he daily trains the Verna police.

The project deals with conducting multiple activities to unite the police and community. Asked on why he chose Verna police station for his project, he said he was struck by the existing energy here. “I have also earlier worked in this area as a community worker through sports. Combining both reasons, considering I have just 11 months to provide the positive thesis of this project, Verna seemed to be the perfect fit. Likewise, this village has a strong residential, industrial and tourism culture, a perfect blend for my vision to view overall success elements,” he said.

In an attempt to change public perception of the police, the Goa Police, in 2012 had launched a community policing initiative ‘Saad Samvad’. It involved continuous interaction with various stakeholders besides the general public. This fresh concept will further augment the force’s ongoing attempt to reach out to the people.

Quenim recalls on how his training within a span of two months has changed the behaviour of the police posted at the Verna police station. “The policemen are more enthusiastic now, they are eager to learn more everyday and their attitude towards people approaching the police station has drastically changed. I know of a recent incident when a distressed woman approached the help desk, and the staff-on-duty first offered her a glass of water. This gesture calmed her down and she was able to share her grievance comfortably,” he said, adding that he has assisted in solving more than 30 cases so far.  

Over the past few months, Goa police force has been under severe criticism for the arrogance of the officer and brutality towards the citizens. Not long ago, the personnel came under scrutiny when FC Goa fan Lester D’Souza and Goan NRI Clint Rebello were thrashed by the police in separate incidents in November 2018. While the then Director General of Police Mukesh Chander was quick to suspend and initiate inquiry against the errant men-in-khaki, public anger against the police force did not ease. 

A senior police officer at Verna PS told Herald that the training has also helped them to handle the work stress and suggested expanding it to other PS too.

On the difference between the working of the US and Goa Police, Quenim, currently being mentored by a retired FBI officer in USA and carrying a number of qualifications, replied very tactfully. According to him, “Humans world over are the same, it’s how you lead them and also how you allow them the space to understand your vision. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two months with the Verna Police and I have been blessed to have them reciprocate with the same energy to allow this project off to such a grand start.”

As his project ends in December, his exhaustive findings will involve crucial factors like organisational change, partnerships and community pro-activeness, activity outreach, problem oriented solutions and measurement with evaluation. 

“How awesome would it be when no one hesitates to ask an officer for help knowing they will be attended to? In December, I wish to conduct a training and education seminar to show my findings and procedures to the rest of Goa Police, hopefully they will consider the success of this initiative for the other police stations across the state,” he said, adding he is open to helping police stations in other states too.

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