Four out of six police divisions in the city have yet to form special squads ordered by the capital city police officer (CCPO) to combat street crime.
CCPO Ahmad Raza Tahir had announced on July 5 that policemen in special squads would patrol high street crime areas. He had said some of these should perform duties in civilian clothes. The squads were to monitor crowded markets and other sensitive places and take immediate action in case of a crime.
Model Town and Civil Lines are the two divisions that have gone ahead and formed these squads. Officials in other divisions either expressed ignorance about such squads or said that they were short of staff so the squads had to wait.
Three motorbike and two car snatching gangs have been arrested by these squads in the Model Town Division. Model Town superintendent of police Malik Awais told The Express Tribune that the squads were assigned patrolling duties in markets as well as areas with high crime rate. He said two officials each were patrolling areas falling in every police station of the division.
City Division officials said there was a patrolling squad in the division but it was primarily tracking proclaimed offenders and not working to control street crime.
An SP who preferred to remain anonymous told The Tribune that there was no special patrolling squad in his division to fight street crime. He said with the existing staff strength, it was very difficult to set aside any officials dedicated to patrolling the streets. However, he said, routine patrolling by officials in uniform was going on. The SP said he believed patrolling in civilian clothes was not a good idea because in some cases criminals might open fire at the policemen, leaving them no option but to shoot back. He said police were very careful with shootouts these days. “If there is a mistake, we risk facing an outcry and losing our jobs,” he said.
Other SPs expressed ignorance about the formation of special squads. SP Saddar Zeeshan Asghar said officials were performing patrolling duties but he was not sure if a special squad had been dedicated for combating street crime.
He referred the query to his reader, Assistant Sub Inspector Muhammad Arshad.
ASI Arshad said there were some officials for patrolling duties in every police station. The existence of a squad dedicated to fight street crime was not in his knowledge, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.