Karachi traffic policemen get spy cameras for better policing, security

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Law & Order on Friday, May 27, 2016

KARACHI: Traffic police authorities have provided sunglasses and pens attached with spy cameras to some of their personnel in a move to monitor their behaviour towards road users and also for security surveillance, as eight traffic policemen have been killed in targeted attacks during the past one year, a top official said on Thursday.

The authorities acquired a set of spy gadgets and distributed them among the officials as a pilot project which would be expanded to all other parts of the city later, he said.

He added that positive feedback had been received from certain areas where programme had been launched to modernise policing.

“In the first phase, we have distributed these camera-attached sunglasses and pens to our officers posted in south district,” said DIG (traffic) Dr Ameer Sheikh while speaking to Dawn. “The primary objective of this entire exercise is to bring reforms in traffic policing. Our personnel remain directly engaged with the people round the clock. As that kind of job is not easy, we continue to receive complaints from both sides – drivers or commuters and traffic policemen,” the officer said.

He said the traffic police authorities had no mechanism to check the weight of argument of each party in case of an altercation between them, rude behaviour or unjustified action from either side. The cameras would help sort such issues, he added.

“In case of any complaint against our personnel, we would be able to determine his role in the disputed matter and also the way he handled the situation,” said Dr Sheikh. The technology would also help keep track of officers’ performance and their activities during duty hours, he said. People often complained of being challaned unjustifiably by the officials at certain spots in case they were not offered bribes, he added. Similarly, in many cases, drivers overreacted and accused traffic personnel of wrongdoing to cover up their crimes, the officer said. The initiative would help the traffic authorities to keep record of such interaction, too, he said.

After the launch of Traffic Violation Evidence System (TVES) a few months ago, the recent project is second such initiative from the authorities to bring reforms in the traffic police. In the developed countries, the receipts of fine are delivered to traffic violators at their homes under the TVES. Their residential addresses are determined after identification of their vehicles’ registration number through surveillance cameras.

The modern gadgets will also be utilised for security surveillance as more than half a dozen traffic officials had been gunned down at traffic intersections in the city over the past one year. Last week, two traffic police constables were shot dead near the Ayesha Manzil flyover in a targeted attack whose responsibility was claimed hours later by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

“We have acquired the best available equipment,” said additional DIG (traffic) Tahir Ahmed Noorani. “Both things – sunglasses and pens – have built-in eight-megapixel cameras, which can record quite clear footage at a moderate distance. After the duty hours of the traffic personnel, we save the footage in our database. It gives multiple advantages like monitoring of our personnel and also the security surveillance of the areas of their deployment.”