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Challenge will be to strike a balance between fighting pandemic and policing: Kamal Pant

A 1990-batch IPS officer, Kamal Pant, took charge as the new Police Commissioner of the city on Saturday. He plans to improve the police response time to citizens’ woes, increase accessibility, and continue the fight against narcotics. While acknowledging the limited resources on hand to fight cybercrime, which is only growing by the day, he said he was not averse to partnering with the city’s tech giants if required. Excerpts from an interview.

You have assumed the leadership of the city police at time when the pandemic is on the rise and personnel are becoming victims of the virus. How do you intend to take the fight forward?

The city police and my predecessor have done an excellent job when they were pushed to the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. The police are generally tenacious and quickly adapt to new situations, which is evident during the pandemic. We have to now learn to live with the virus and this battle will be a prolonged one.

A large part of my tenure will likely be dominated by the pandemic. While the recent months were focused mostly on fighting the virus, we have now opened up, protests have resumed and so should regular policing. The challenge will be to strike a balance between fighting the pandemic and policing. We will issue new SOPs if required. The State government has been very supportive of the department; [it has] given all help to those who tested positive for COVID-19, and my deep respect goes to those who laid down their lives in this fight. Keeping the morale of the force high will be my priority.

What will be your philosophy on policing?

My philosophy will be to take the police to the citizens’ doorstep, and not just be accessible. I will be available to citizens at the zonal DCP offices for two hours at a pre-scheduled time, frequency of which I will work out shortly. Any citizen can walk in and talk to me. I will also work to strengthen community policing and get our officers to be part of residents’ welfare association (RWA) and mohalla meetings regularly.

Presently, the Hoysalas, which were intended as first responders, are being used for a variety of services, including for bandobast. I want to redeploy them exclusively as first responders to call-ins by the citizens, a practice common in other metro cities. This will improve the response time and strengthen grievance redressal.

What are your priorities?

The city is known for its law and order and peace, which will be preserved at any cost. Safety of women, children, and senior citizens will be a top priority, followed by measures to curb the mushrooming menace of drugs and cybercrime in the city.

The fight against narcotics is a commitment to our children and future generations and it has been a priority for the State government as well. We will pro-actively pursue and take measures to check this menace, the contours of which I will strategise in the coming days.

We have come a long way in the case of cybercrime in the city. With the new CEN [Cyber Crime, Economic Offences and Narcotics] stations, an unprecedented number of cases are being registered, but the resources are so overwhelmed that we are lagging behind in investigations and prosecutions.

The pandemic has only increased the digital component of our lives, making us more vulnerable to cybercrime. If need be, we will partner with tech giants of the city to strengthen our resources in battling cybercrime.

In the last one year, there have been two cases where the police were busted for corruption. How will you, with a long record of anti-corruption investigations, check corruption in the force?

I will not comment on specific cases. But I will make one thing clear — professionalism and professional integrity will be appreciated and any deviances will be appropriately dealt with, without any leniency.

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