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POLICING THE POLICE

The work police or policing is derived from the Greek roots polis means city
and politeia, Latin politia and French police means polity; its English root is “policy”
means statecraft, plan or course of action especially in statecraft or administering
the laws. The spectrum of the meanings of the word ‘police’ and ‘policing’ swings
from ‘city’ in one extremity to ‘statecraft’ and administering the laws in the other.
Police and policing imply administering the laws of the country in the process of
the statecraft. Police deal with laws as part of the administration in shape of its
enforcement and detection and investigation of its violations. Policing the police
is administering laws to police and bringing violators to book selon les regles. It is
a measure of fencing the fences to prevent them from themselves looting the
crop. The vectors of policing the police rely on the moral convictions of the
police force and pro rata decide the effectiveness of policing outside. A law-
abiding police is a boon to the country, its administration and policing system as
well.
The very concept of policing the police is pregnant with the suggestion that
police do not necessarily limit themselves to the bounds of the laws, therefore
require policing. A protector, guardian and enforcer in one have two facets: he
is a master as well as a servant at the same time. This is what is expected of police
in regard to laws. The issue is whether police serve the laws in the capacities. They
do act as masters in enforcing them. But their role as servants of laws needs
deeper probe about how far they are subject to and guided by the laws in force.
Policing the police involves self-policing. Internal vigil against lawlessness
within in the form of prevention, investigation, enforcement and protection
motivated by a sense of commitment to law and justice is its pith. Such
commitment presupposes professional pride, conditioned by high morale
spawned by clean professional culture of high values, sound reputation and
standing of the profession in society and the sense of achievement and
recognition, the profession induces. The elements of policing the police are
embedded in the organizational culture and the managerial dynamics of the
police setup. Its value system, objectives, means pursued to achieve them,
attainments, strengths and weaknesses, the reticulation of human relationship,

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public image, efficiency of managerial vectors, sense of fairness in assessing


performance and granting recognition determine the orientation of a police
organisation to rein in itself to the consuetude within the bounds of law, justice
and popular acceptability. Their sensitivity to their image and reputation helps to
strain every fiber to keep up to public expectations and avoid unfair practices.
This is au reste the individual pride in the force about being a worthy member of
a worthy institution. The individual and organizational prides interact to create
an ambience of high morale and great professional pride to serve as the greatest
tool of policing the police from within.
Creation of a distinct arm within the police setup to police the organisation
a la military police in army is another technique. This is gratuitous in police for
the simple reason that police organisation is capable of handling police
responsibilities within as effectively as outside. The only block to the process is
natural fellow feeling and sympathies to erring colleagues. The issue can be
handled through appropriate administrative measures au reste adequate
sensitization to the threats of unlawful and criminal activities ab intra.
Criminal and other unlawful activities of the law-enforcers destabilize the
democratic foundation as well as the judicial system of the country. Police hors
la loi while act as harbourers and pillars of support to outside criminals and create
havoc in the law-enforcing system, no meaningful policing is possible. They
boost the confidence of criminals and help the spread of criminal activities. A true
effort to arrest lawlessness in the country must begin with pernoctation against
outlaws within the police and drastic measures to snap their connections with
outside criminals. This brings the need of policing the police to the forefront.
Efforts at policing the police must begin with right recruitment policy to
ensure that only right people enter the job. Next important stage is right training.
Third stage is creation of right ambience of job culture within the service. Fourth
factor is institution of a right system of rewards and punishments on the basis
of actual performance. Fifth is sensitizing the top brass of the force about the
need of policing the police too make policing meaningful and purposeful. An
extension of this sensitization is willingness of the police administrators to track
down unlawful and criminal elements within the force and efforts to deracinate
hem from the system as fast as possible. It is easier said than done in actual
practice.
Obstacles to policing the police are numerous, ranging from clever use of
loopholes in the system and laws to circumvent the arm of legal authority to use
of external pressures to extricate from impending disciplinary proceedings.
Police is a part of the world outside and cannot exist in complete isolation from

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it. Their close interdependence and symbiosis make them sine qua non for each.
In the circumstances, they mutually influence and the lawlessness and criminal
tendencies of the society outside seep into the police system to allay its resolve
for self-policing, and corrode the process. This allay reflects in recruitment,
training, job culture, system of rewards and punishments and resolve to cleanse
the system. Concomitantly police lose moral right to policing anywhere.
Vigilance organisation does keep tab on all government organisations
including the police. The arrangement is simply inadequate to meet the needs of
policing the police for the simple reason that the scope of a vigilance organisation
is more or less limited to activities related to corruption and that its jurisdiction
is so widely spread on all government organisations that it can hardly do any
meaningful work to cleanse the police even on the single agenda of rooting out
corruption. The pith of such a vigilance organisation being constituted of police
personnel, chances of sympathies for criminal colleagues are more than
incidental. That is why, vigilance organisation can hardly be an answer for the
problem of policing the police.
Service and conduct rules that guide the conduct and activities of government
servants is too weak an instrument to meet the needs of policing the police. Rules
therein couched in procedural hurdles and usual governmental loopholes can
scarcely be effective in providing the vigorous drive needed for the efforts of
policing the police. It is a fact that these rules achieve no more than keeping the
government business going. They are not meant either to inculcate true fear or
induce motivation towards any end. Police cannot look to them for sustenance
of its need of policing the police.
An outside agency that can substitute for the lack of self-regulation in police
is judiciary. Both are closely-knit in the cause of the administration of law and
justice. Police organisation is functionally subject and subordinate to the
directions of the judiciary in the dispensation of justice and the rule of law. The
ethos of judiciary prevents it from close and day to day scrutiny of the police
functions unless it resorts itself to pro-active mode in select cases when warranted
by the atrophy set in as in extant India. Judiciary is a disinterested and uninvolved
observer of the field trends unless it is forced to interfere in the overall interests
of justice. Its ethos prevent it from being an effective tool of policing the police
save in rare and far-between circumstances like the recent ones wherein handling
of investigations of politically sensitive cases came to public scrutiny and popular
condemnation. Further, judiciary lacks the infrastructure required to perficiently
police the police. Judiciary is best suited to give jolts once in a way on selective

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basis. This is just about to remind police about what is right and what is expected
of them rather than effectively policing the police.
Bihar is a distinct example of how police, putrid at the core, add to the
atrophy of the public life rather than bringing a sense of discipline there. Police
organisation is not only ineffective there; it foots the bill of being a setup of
criminals in uniform. The claim of justice Mulla of the Allahabad High Court in
1968 that if there was an organized force of criminals in India, it went by the name
of police, perfectly suits the police setup of some major states of North India
like Bihar and U.P. Though Punjab police did commendable job in containing
terrorism in Punjab the police in the job there at the time were almost sans self-
policing. The point is that the same goal could be achieved with better self-
policing in part of the Punjab police. Nexus of criminals and police in Bihar is
too striking to be ignored. The police of U.P do not lag behind much. The
misease is a common phenomenon in India. Politicians hold criminals and police
together from above for obvious reasons. In the circumstances, policing the
police from below becomes meaningless and purposeless even in the unlikely
even of efforts of self-policing within the police. The true clavis of policing the
police lies in breaking the noxious nexus.
Policing must begin from within and spread outward. Self-policing is the
primus of the responsibilities of any effective policing setup. It needs higher
commitment and resolve as a foundation to meaningful policing other where.
Self-policing must constitute the core of activities of a police organisation worth
the name. As only a flame within can shed light outside and only a conviction
within can spread confidence outside, a clean environment inside only gives
strength to cleanse the world around. The conundrum is how to bring it about.
Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Police as the arm of the
state power structure, enjoy enormous powers. Incidence of corruption is
natural in the circumstances. Corruption of police badly affects the hoi polloi and
their trust in police, judicial system and honesty of the government. A corrupt and
lawless police makes lives of plebeian a hell. Policing by a lawless and corrupt
police is just a mockery played on hapless people.
A cardinal measure in policing the police is making the unlimited power of
police accountable. The present provision of protection given for acts done
under the colours of office is largely misused. No proper mechanism is evolved
to demarcate what to what degree constitute acts done under the colours of
office. Anything done in performance of official duties including unlawful acts
and often those done outside the ambit of official duties too are carried
piggyback under the clause of official protection unless the acts draw the public

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scrutiny and become too hot to be defended by the birds of the same flock in
uniform and their godfathers above in government. Police being a closely-knit
organisation, its members rarely let down each other as any of them may find
himself in a similar situation at any time in the prevailing prolate disregard for law
in police. Also, the usefulness of police renders them protected for their
misdeeds by the bureaucracy and the politicians. The outcome is a police force
with unlimited powers and protection against its misuse without any purposeful
accountability. No organisation with such powers, protection and lack of
accountability can develop any respect for law. The foremost need is forcing
police out of this protection to bring it en plein jour to accountability for every
evil committed by it. Protection has to be an exception rather than a rule for
actions done in honest discharge of official duties. A suitable machinery manned
by disinterested persons of high standing can be instituted to oversee the benefit
of official protection is justifiable. Leaving the matter to official superiors from
the same flock may only serve the travesty of justice.
An important safeguard to strengthen the process of policing the police is
insulation of disciplinary and rewards system from outside influences. A sense
of exactitude and promptitude has to be injected to the system and objectively
is made the abracadabra of the process. A sense of certitude about penal action
for a given failure has to develop in the organisation. Punishment has to be pro
rata to the gravity of the mens rea and adequate to deflect others in the organisation
from pursuing the path in future. More important, nothing from outside should
deter the process, so that the feeling of security that one can save him from
whatever irresponsible and unlawful act by bringing pressure from outside
remains no more available to schemers and wrongdoers.
There are informal measures too, like transfers and selections of police
personnel for medals and other rewards. Presently these measures are careened
towards money and political clout one enjoys which is earned always by corrupt,
immoral and illegal means. Once weightage is given to right people in the
organisation in posting to rewarding jobs and selection for medals and other
rewards instead of those with ill-gotten money and political clout, the measure
itself works as an enormous boost to the morale of the police force and brings
its members on right and lawful tracks. The first step here is bringing an end to
the present policy in favour of money and political powers. This step itself helps
police force enormously in weakening the prise of money and political clout on
the police force. The positive step of encouraging right personnel by proper
transfer and rewards policy adds to the benefit. These subtle measures can do
wonders to the efforts of policing the police.

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Intelligent employment of conventional stick and carrot method can certainly


cleanse the police setup and make policing purposive, meaningful and effective.
What is required is willingness to police the police to make the organisation
condign of policing responsibilities. The power of police does not lay in its
numerical strength or the arms it wields. The real power of police is its moral
strength and the image it presents to the outside world. A clean, honest and
professional police have galvanic effect on the public as well as law-breakers.
They are feared, loved, respected and patronized by everybody. This is an
environment, most conducive for perficient policing. Clean and professional
police help the cause. A clean and professional police is possible only with an
effective tool of policing the police. The major task in reforming and building
a new police force to India is restructuring it with an inbuilt mechanism of
effective self-policing. How fast it is done, so much easier for the country to build
a healthier nation by the time India will celebrate the centenary of its
independence.

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