Breaking from the tradition of only male police officers being in charge of beat policing, North-West district has taken the initiative of deploying eight women as beat officers in four of its police stations. The move came after Usha Rangnani, the district DCP, felt that women officers too could be involved in day-to-day policing. This would not only give the policewomen visibility in the localities, but also motivate the residents into building a better police-public partnership.
Constable Kiran, who patrols the same area as Rinku, said their patrolling has created a sense of respect for the uniform. “It was there earlier too, but nowadays when we question someone, they listen to us and acknowledge their faults. Many women also come forward to share their grievances and we try to resolve them,” said Kiran.
Citing an example, Kiran continued, “When see people fighting on the road, we intervene and tell them that fighting and arguing are no solutions and that they will be taken to the police station if they continue creating a ruckus. Such fear tactics mostly work.”
Out of uniform, the women officers aren’t as effective. As Monika Yadav, who is a beat officer in an Ashok Vihar locality, explained, “Sometimes when I am not in uniform or off duty and intervene in road spats, the impact isn’t as much as when I am in my cop’s uniform.”
Head constable Sunita is on field duty for the first time since joining Delhi Police 26 years ago. “I have done office work or accompanied police teams on raids but have never been on beat work,” she said. “I particularly love looking out for the senior citizens in the area.” A WhatsApp group has been started for senior citizens to coordinate their needs.
Constable Preeti, 25, who patrols a locality in Ashok Vihar, said, “It is overwhelming when young girls and kids playing in the parks approach us for selfies.”
DCP Rangnani’s move to deploy women beat officers has brought about a positive change. “Earlier, these policewomen had responsibility, but now they have authority too,” said Rangnani. “It is easier now for local residents, especially women and young girls, to communicate with them. In fact, not only women but even men are beginning to open up in cases where they are facing harassment or have other problems with female family members. The beat officers are also challenging the traditional patriarchal mindset. We will ensure that we have women beat officers in all our police stations.”