//Myths about research and policing

Myths about research and policing

Prashant Pandey, The Hindu , Dec 18, 2006

NEW DELHI: "Research is for academia". "Research and policing are subjects far apart". "Research will leave the police open to many uncomfortable questions". "Research may lead to indiscipline in force". These were some of the myths that the panellists at the four-day colloquium on "Respecting and Recognising Research" organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) this week tried to dispel.

In his inaugural presentation, Associate Professor at Indiana University in United States Arvind Verma, who had earlier quit Indian Police Service, explained that the police forces of countries like the U.S. also faced problems like corruption, high-handedness and undue political interference that the police in India are facing. "In so far as reforms are concerned, they began only about a decade earlier than us," said Dr. Verma.

He informed that President's Commission on police reforms in the U.S. was constituted in 1967, while the National Police Commission was constituted in 1977 and went on to present a series of reports from 1979-1981.

"But the difference was that they associated people from outside the police force to get a perspective of the problems and fresh solutions. In India, it was mostly in the hands of top police managers," he explained.

Dr. Verma added that research has certain unintended but welcome consequences. "It makes the police open to other people. It makes them more transparent and accountable. It helps in breaking age-old myths like `misuse of force is an aberration' and it paves the way for newer approaches to policing." The speakers were unanimous that water-tight compartmentalisation of various bodies within the Government and their general detachment with community was one of the reasons why research has not taken off in the country.

Recalling the woes of pedestrians in the Capital, Director of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) P.K. Nanda on Saturday said the pedestrians at a particular junction near CRRI in South Delhi, were being forced to cross the ever-busy Mathura Road, then cross a railway line and again a flyover to reach Okhla Industrial Area. The CRRI approached the PWD asking them to resolve the problems.

"They promptly put up fences on the central verge of Mathura Road from where the pedestrians used to cross. Now, crossing Mathura Road means they also have to jump over the fence. And they certainly don't have any other option," he said.

Dr. Nanda added that requests of allowing the CRRI to at least have a look at the plans prepared by the PWD have not yielded any favourable response.