IN A bid to fetch assistance to fight the ongoing pandemic, Mumbai Police have started empowering civilians from the city by appointing them as special police officers.
The department has so far appointed 1,100 civilians as special police officers, who would help the police make people follow the Covid-19 guidelines issued by the state.
A Mumbai Police source said the special police officers will assist them in controlling the law and order situation at containment zones and sealed buildings. They will also help people of these areas buy groceries and other essential commodities. The service of these special police officers is purely voluntary.
The police said the civilians were issued certificates of appointment, mentioning the duration of their service, under Sections 21 (1) (2) (B) of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951.
A senior IPS officer said, “We are allowed to appoint civilians as special police officers under extraordinary circumstances and we have reached a stage where we need such additional help.”
The zonal deputy commissioner of the police has been given the rights to issue the appointment letters.
“To ensure that the power is not misused by any special police officer, we are checking the civilians’ history. If any case is registered against a person, then he/she will not be given the responsibility,” said an officer.
The police added that they have already appointed more than 8,00 constables to guard the containment zones. They have also been deputed outside sealed buildings to ensure that people do not step out of their residential premises.
Deputy Commissioner of Police S Chaitanya said, “A residential building with more than five cases is being sealed by the BMC. We are making use of our constables and home guards to guard the entry and exits. However, we need someone with authority throughout the day and by introducing this concept, we can depute our staff to other locations and for more emergency situations, while seeking help from these civilians to guard the buildings.”
“No one can say that the special police officers do not have any authority to stop them. If a violator doesn’t listen, a special police officer will contact the local police station that will then take necessary action against him/her,” said Chaitanya.
The officer added that they are taking consent from a person before appointing him/her as a special police officer and in turn, the officers are also seeking the police’s help in patrolling the areas where they reside.
“We ask them to look after their areas and ensure that the shops are closed. The special officers will make sure that no one is stepping out and if anyone is for any essential purpose, they are wearing mask,” said a senior police inspector.
Ketan Siriya, a cloth merchant and a resident of Parel, who received his appointment certificate recently, said: “The certificate has a huge impact. I am into social service and whenever I asked anyone to stay indoors or shut their shops; nobody would even bother to listen. But now everyone knows that I have been given this power by the police, so everybody has started obeying to what I say.”
The service tenure of many civilians, recently appointed as special police officers, will end on April 30.