Police Commissioner-Amit Garg, IPS

amit-garg-vizag-police-commissioner
amit-garg-vizag-police-commissioner

 

Tech-savvy and keen on taking policing in the city to the next level, the Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner Amit Garg is as committed to social issues as he is to the law and order of the Smart City in the making. The Yo! Vizag team caught up with him and elicited his views on many topics. We give you excerpts of the interview.

THE IFR CHALLENGE

“The main challenge in the International Fleet Review was the fact that different stakeholders were involved in it. In addition to interacting with the ENC there were others involved as well, like the Central Government, State Administration, District Administration; and each have their own limitations, work culture and style of functioning. Hence, as far as our three main responsibilities – the security, traffic and the law and order were concerned; proper communication amongst all the stakeholders was paramount. Many of the events were in already secured areas under the Eastern Naval Command, with less traffic and less public movement; for which we had an additional layer of security. But at the Beach, there was a lot of overlap; it was the same carriageway for VIP vehicles, public vehicles, VIP movement and pedestrians. But we had anticipated these issues, and planning definitely helped. I had a brainstorming session with my subordinates who have a very vast experience in this field. We also intentionally planned conservatively to factor in excess crowds. Rather than a fixed plan, our entire strategy was dynamic, need-based and pro-people. Overall it was excellent coordination, planning and the fact that the DGP and the State Government took care of all my requests – the required additional personnel, funding and logistics. For the VIPs, we deployed specialised agencies assigned to eight of the star hotels which housed high-risk people. And for the general public attending the beach event, we had three layers of security. Additionally we had random verifications by the special branch officials who were spread out in all the public enclosures amongst the crowds, keeping a look out for any dubious persons. The biggest asset in crowd control were the surveillance cameras, my flagship project. Live feed from roughly 250 to 300 cameras, including the ones put up by the ENC were fed to an integrated command centre at the VUDA Children’s theatre. Live feed from traffic cameras was incorporated as well. DCP of the crime unit was in charge of the command centre. He kept track of the crowd movement and accordingly could alert personnel on the ground level well in advance, so they were prepared to deal with the oncoming crowd surge. Also, senior officers could intervene and instruct wherever necessary. This way we could avert any major mishaps. The traffic cameras are part of a soon to be launched Smart Signal project. The phase-1 aspect of that project is already grounded – 128 cameras at 47 junctions in the city. In the coming two weeks, the permanent Command Centre will be set up.”

VIZAG VULNERABILITY

“There are lots of events happening here of late; conferences and workshops at the national and international level. Accordingly, our commitment to security, traffic, law and order has gone up. The connectivity between the Indian Mujahedeen and the ISIS is a very disturbing trend and any Indian city where there is a lot of hype is at risk. In this context, with Visakhapatnam coming into lot of prominence, its vulnerability increases on account of the vital installations along the coast, similar to Mumbai. We definitely need specialised manpower and more logistics. Right now we have 15-20% vacancies, which need to be filled up immediately else it will have a bearing on the day-to-day functioning of the department. Fact is that during events, basic policing takes a backseat and officers are forced to multitask.”

THE RISE OF CYBERCRIME

“Unfortunately in Vizag, Cybercrime is on the rise. It has grown manifold and we need to do more on this front. Nevertheless, we maintain a database of the numbers associated with such malicious calls and notify the telephone service providers to block said numbers. We involve banks, telecom operators , Internet provider, Google, Facebook… which ever provider is involved to thwart these calls from trapping new gullible people. We have various Standard Operating Procedures to address these issues. The cybercrime division was recently declared as a proper police station and there is a proposal for the construction of a police station and a regional digital lab. A dedicated lab will definitely give some fillip to the investigative process of cybercrime.”

THE MAKINGS OF A SMART CITY

“With regards to the Smart City listing, fact is that the concept of a Smart City is the use of technology for public utility. And we have already initiated the use of technology in the department with the installation of cameras for the smart signal project and the command centre. The Honourable CM too evinced interest on seeing the makeshift command centre at the Children’s Theatre. He had lots of ideas and he wanted us to implement certain more aspects, like working on the model of video analytics and tools for facial recognition. The idea is that the video analysis centre should have seamless streaming, to track the movement of a criminal from one place to another with facial recognition. The database of the criminals needs to be integrated, and we are working on that. The feasibility and applicability aspects need to be studied by us before implementation.”

VIZAG, THE CITY

“I am very optimistic and excited about Visakhapatnam. People here are extremely nice. The success of events like IFR is thanks to the people in crowd management, they have been very cooperative with the police. Regarding congestion in traffic; fact is that the carriageways and roads are the same but the number of vehicles has increased phenomenally. But I believe in optimal utilisation of the existing resources. If there is a commitment and application of mind, with proper planning we can do wonders. We have launched a few new initiatives at the local level to ease the traffic – like Siripuram has been a great success. And when the Smart Signal project is in active use, it will definitely have a positive impact. But I would like the people of Vizag to be more traffic conscious. The community as well should address issues like street parking, signal jumping, and overspeeding. People need to abide to traffic laws. They need to understand and positively respond to traffic awareness programmes.”

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