The Weekend Leader - Changing cops

Founder of Friends of Police hopes to change the attitude of the policeman

Prateep V Philip


Vol 2 | Issue 35

Change challenges us but challenge changes us. When I joined the Indian Police Service, I set myself after a lot of thought and introspection one mission: attempt to humanize the police.

Over the years, the hope has grown in me and a lot of other police officers that it is possible to bring about the change, even if the odds against it seem to be in the realm of the impossible.

Hoping with courage: The author (in picture) believes that “the basis of courage is hope and hope cannot be carried to fulfillment except through courage.”

But, I have always believed that “it is the “Im” in impossible that makes the impossible possible.” The first step to realizing hope is to imagine that it is possible and then take tiny baby steps towards it.

As a young police officer when I survived with severe injuries the world’s first Human Bomb that assassinated the former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, I got letters telling me that it was a dramatic confirmation or divine intimation that I needed to accomplish something substantially positive in my career and life.

On that traumatic night, the fact that a VOP ( a very ordinary person) – a common citizen - came to my assistance as I was carried to a jeep, inspired the thought in me later that untrained and unpaid citizens can be relied upon to be Friends of Police.

Two years later (1993), as Superintendent of Police Ramnad District I announced the start of a new initiative worldwide, the Friends of Police (FOP) movement. A year later in July, 1994 I requested the Hon. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, in the presence of the entire Cabinet, the bureaucracy and the police hierarchy, to extend the FOP movement to the entire state. She ordered the extension of the movement to the entire state through a Government Order issued in September, 2004.

The Friends of Police Movement is intended to transform the police image as well as the police behaviour and performance.

Over the past eighteen years, Ramnad District that was always dreaded as a trouble-prone district has become a peaceful, if not docile district. Within a year, a passionate but logical appeal to the Government to extend the FOP movement to the entire state led to the unusual event of the idea of a young officer being adopted as a model of community policing all over the state.

When one has a vision, provision to fulfill the vision will follow in due course. In the year 2002, the FOP idea won the prestigious 15000 sterling pound inaugural Queen’s Award for Innovation in Police Training and Development.

The corpus received from the Award provided the seed money to establish a state of the art training center and documentation center in Chennai.

An opportunity to speak at a State level Chief Minister’s Collectors-SPs’ conference led to the State Government recognizing the Center as Asia’s first Citizens’ Community Policing Academy and sanctioning Rupees Twenty lakhs per annum to further institutionalize FOP through joint training of police personnel and FOP volunteers from all walks of life.

Over the past eight years, a record one lakh police personnel and FOP volunteers have been trained in the attitudes, skills and knowledge of community policing.

The problem of public antagonism and police isolation is a global phenomenon as proved by the recent devastating riots in London.

One of the significant contributions of FOP is not just reduction of the crime rate in Tamil Nadu but reduction of the fear of the police. The number of attacks on police stations and police personnel has reduced to nil over the period the FOP has been in existence. My ardent hope is that the FOP idea will spread to all states in the country and even overseas.

The PM’s National Police Mission that aims at transforming Indian police has recommended to the Ministry of Home Affairs a three-tiered model of community policing incorporating the FOP model for adoption in all states and Union Territories.

It includes the sanction of Rupees One Crore to set up a similar Community Policing Training and Documentation Center in each state and Union Territory.

There have been many challenges at a personal and professional front in introducing and sustaining the FOP Movement but my credo is summed up in the following words written by me as a student: “Courage never denies hope; for the basis of courage is hope and hope cannot be carried to fulfillment except through courage.”

The author is Inspector General of Police, Tamil Nadu Police Academy and Project Director FOP

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