An officer shortly to retire came calling on me recently at my residence. While talking to him about the changes he has seen over the nearly three decades of his service in the police department, a few things stood out prominently-1. Despite the fact that the recruitment requirement is for 12th pass, he was seeing many graduates and post-grads joining the Maharashtra Police Department as constables, unlike 15-20 years ago. He mentioned that the more educated constabulary preferred office jobs within police department, to street policing and this was affecting the quality of policing in the police stations. 2. He was seeing approximately 1-2% per year attrition as a trend in the newer constables within the nearly 2000 strong Unit he was heading. This was a new experience for him and he felt that the more educated constabulary felt ashamed to do a constable’s job and were constantly seeking other government jobs or jobs in the private sector. 15-20% of the graduates from the newly recruited constabulary also study and appear for Public Service Commission exams and attempt to become police officers in the rank of Sub-Inspector or DySP. 3. The 30% reservation for women in the police force, he felt, was leading to a shortage of personnel for armed security duties like guarding vital installations, escorting prisoners to courts, VIP security etc, since women police could not be deployed for such duties.
What he was telling me, but not in so many words, was that there were significant baseline changes in the manpower of the police department over the years, and it had significantly altered the working environment within the police department. But the department has not organizationally thought through how to seamlessly adapt to the changed circumstances and make the changes work effectively towards its new and traditional functions.
Looking at the figures on these issues, this year, the recruitment of graduates/postgraduates was approximately 17% of the total constabulary recruitment. Similar figures for percentage of graduate constabulary recruited yearly over the last few years was not readily available and so the trend mentioned above could not be verified with data. Women constabulary constitute 13.94% of the total sanctioned police for Maharashtra. So, if we look at the two factors he mentioned – 1. more educated constabulary and 2. more women personnel, what are the issues on the table? The issues appear to be 1. more educated recruits are doing jobs designed for people with far lesser qualification, and 2. the enhanced womens’ recruitment has not blended into the training process to produce effective calibre of trained women constabulary.
As regards the more educated constabulary, the department will need to ask itself questions like – can we see better use for the more educated frontline workforce in police duties? Is the training imparted after recruitment adapted to this trend of better educated workforce coming in? It seems logical and intuitive that if training content and methodology are not significantly altered to cater to new thoughts on job content of a constable, the newer generation of constabulary will continue to perceive low worth and low pride in doing a constable’s job. The trend in attrition also flows from this same sense of lack of dignity in doing the constable’s job in the traditional way. These better educated constables therefore keep seeking upward mobility in jobs which have better perceived status in society. Police training is rigorous and takes significant time and effort to impart. If the trend in recruiting graduate constabulary continues, the department cannot afford to lose these trained personnel due to dissatisfaction with the job content.
Currently, investigation of crimes is done by officers from the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (in very few cases) to the Police Naik(in some Units like Mumbai city, crime investigation is not delegated to the last 3 of these ranks – ASI, Head Constable and Police Naik) i.e between 7 ranks. Overall, the chunk of investigative work is done by 6 ranks between Police Inspector to Police Naik. As per the CID Maharashtra publication ‘Crime in Maharashtra-2011’, the total working manpower in these ranks in Maharashtra’s Civil(Unarmed)Police is 100514 and the crime investigation workload in Maharashtra is 4.91 cases per Investigator. However, this figure has been arrived at by taking all non-armed civil police personnel of the 7 above mentioned ranks into account. A large number of personnel posted in these ranks in the District/Commissionerate HQ are assigned to Establishment maintenance and reserve duties and do not perform crime investigation work. Therefore, the actual workload per investigator in the police stations and special investigative units must be much higher-close to double if not more. If there is a trend of taking in more and more graduate constables in police every year, then there exists a case for developing the constabulary cadre into crime investigation officers for certain types of crimes. This will have the double benefit of 1. Reducing per officer workload regarding crime investigation, and also 2. effectively change the job content of the constabulary to make it easier for the more educated ones to feel more worth in doing a constable’s job.
The second issue of increased number of women in the police, needs both – a well thought out basic training program post-recruitment to equip this part of the workforce to be fully utilized in policing duties, as well as a new program of attitudinal change management for the older workforce to gainfully employ the recruited women constabulary in all policing jobs.
Such trends in permanent changes in quality as well as quantity of manpower in a department as dependent and rich in the manpower resource, as the police department is, needs periodic assessment in order to tune-in to changing times.