With 13 districts, 42 circles and 96 police stations under its jurisdiction, Dhaka range is one of the most important institutions of police that not only ensures safety and security of people but also oversees and monitors services provided by law enforcers. Recently, it brought all of its police stations under CCTV surveillance to improve services. In an interview with The Daily Star, Dhaka range police chief Deputy Inspector General Habibur Rahman spoke about their endeavours, challenges and plans to improve services.
The Daily Star (DS): You have recently brought all police stations of Dhaka range under CCTV surveillance. Can you tell us how productive the step has been?
Habibur Rahman: We have installed around 288 CCTV cameras in 96 police stations of the range, and we can now directly give instructions from the Dhaka office to police station officials.
Through the system, we can see the activities, hear conversations and record movement of duty officials. If any official does not perform duties accordingly, we are aware of it immediately. We can also observe and hear help-seekers at the stations and evaluate how satisfied they were with services.
For example, if a woman, elderly person or a person with disabilities comes to a station and has to wait for long, we can inform officials to help them right away.
We can also oversee whether officials are recording victims' complaints properly.
Most importantly, CCTV installation helps create a deterrent effect on unfriendly behaviour of officers towards people.
On April 8, Saltha Police Station in Faridpur came under attack during a Hefajat demonstration, and our senior officials from the range guided the police station's officials about steps to take.
DS: Do you take action if any anomaly is found or someone lodges a complaint regarding services?
Habibur Rahman: District superintendents of police are authorised to monitor police stations under their jurisdiction. In three teams, we do round-the-clock monitoring of CCTVs under command of additional deputy inspector generals (DIG, operations).
We take two types of actions -- instant and investigative. If any official is not in uniform or not listening to help seekers, we ask the seniors or local SPs to take action against them. If any official is found involved in a serious crime, we ask the local authority to launch an investigation.
DS: A step has been taken to let people know about case updates on their phones. Tell us more about it.
Habibur Rahman: A GD/case monitoring cell has been launched at Dhaka range office to ensure proper investigation and dispel the common belief of people that lodging any GD or case requires money.
Every month, we usually monitor 9,000 to 11,000 GDs and cases. Every GD, after being lodged, reaches Range DIG Office by 10am the next day. Our cell instantly monitors those by calling up the lodgers or complainants and investigation officers. However, in some cases, calls are made within two to four days of its lodging.
We follow similar procedures to check whether there was any case of harassment or bribery during registering a case. We also follow through during mid-level stages of investigation, and after its completion.
A huge number of people now come to us for passport verification and police clearance. For that, we have introduced a mobile application. When a person comes to us for clearance, the applicant receives a notification with details and contact number of the officer taking care of the application.
The officer has to dispose of an application within three working days, or else a red mark is shown in the software, and we can check whether any anomaly took place. If the application has to be verified from two separate districts, we allow extra time.
Through the process, we can check if any official is taking money or bribe in exchange of service, as there is a team to monitor it. We also call applicants randomly to check if they faced harassment or difficulty.
DS: Dhaka range handles appointments, promotions and transfers of police members. Do you have any specific system in place for that?
Habibur Rahman: We have introduced a system to dispose of official letters within five working days, unless there are inquiry-related issues. It has ensured transparency, and no one gets any scope for recommendation.
There's a provision in government service that one has to continue work in a place for at least two years. But we sometimes transfer officials on humanitarian grounds. If an officer is working in Barishal but his parents live in Panchagarh, we take that into account and transfer him to a nearby place upon request.
Promotions are now maintained centrally through an evaluation examination.
DS: Often, there are allegations of irregularities against police members, especially in major commercial areas such as Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur. How do you deal with such issues?
Habibur Rahman: We have several tiers of monitoring system. We constantly monitor activities of all members through our Police Internal Oversight (PIO). If anyone is found involved in illegal activities like bribery, extortion, harassment, rude behaviour, or involvement with narcotics, members of PIO deployed in every unit instantly send that information to our range office, and departmental proceedings are drawn based on that.
In addition, we have central PIO to oversee allegations against police. Furthermore, we have a central complaint cell for people in Police Headquarters named "IGP's Complaint Cell".
Nowadays, 999 has also become a popular medium to convey complaints against police members.
DS: Many citizens still hesitate to go to police stations or talk to officials fearing harassment. There seems to be a trust issue when it comes to police. What is your view on this? Are you taking any step to address it?
Habibur Rahman: We have introduced a process to welcome help seekers in all police stations. First, we greet them with candies, which helps ease their discomfort and helps create a pro-people environment.
We then give them a card with names and numbers of officials in a police station. We have also come up with a GD form which can be filled up easily.
Besides, we have taken steps for quick case disposal, so victims can get justice swiftly. We have issued order for ensuring quick autopsy to finish investigations. Our OCs are now visiting mosques and informing people that they do not need to pay money for filing cases. Additionally, the government has appointed public prosecutors for those who do not have money to fight cases.
We have chosen religious institutions to raise awareness among citizens, as people from all walks of life go there.
DS: You are also doing research work on the Liberation War. Can you elaborate on that?
Habibur Rahman: Police's contribution to the Liberation War is significant. Our force was the first initiator, as it took part in the war from Rajarbagh Police Lines. It's the OCs and SPs who opened armouries and helped people take firearms and join the war. Many police officials at the time trained locals on how to operate firearms.
In 2009, when I got posted as deputy commissioner (headquarters) in Rajarbagh, I tried to conduct research with support of then commissioner AKM Shahidul Hoque. Following that, I was finally able to fulfil my dream of establishing Police Liberation War Museum there. Present SP of Lalmonirhat, Abida Sultana, helped me a lot during the research.
I also created a central police blood bank in Rajarbagh Police Lines in 2009. We have rare blood groups available there, and we also provide blood to people in crisis for free.
Besides, we're working to establish a narcotics rehabilitation centre. The permanent location will be in Manikganj. For now, we will launch one at Keraniganj.
DS: What are some challenges or limitations you have faced in Dhaka Range? How do you plan to overcome those?
Habibur Rahman: Dhaka Range is important as it surrounds the capital and covers all the city entry points. We have two ferry terminals, Savar National Memorial, the president and prime minister's village homes, mausoleum of the Father of the Nation and the largest commercial zone inside the range. We also have to ensure security of foreign delegates. Besides, we oversee or collect intelligence regarding militant or extremist activities.
These challenges have become routine work for us, and we have to do our duty with diligence. But the good news is that we have been able to do so successfully and are hopeful to continue the good work in the future.