‘This is Mumbai police, how may I help you?’

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To address the perception that they are largely a rude and unfriendly force, the Mumbai police have started a training programme to impart soft skills to policemen and officers.

The programme, conducted by the New Delhi-based Bureau of Police Research and Development, aims to improve the police department’s listening, counseling, communication, and interpersonal skills when interacting with the public at large. The training will also sensitise policemen on how to communicate effectively with people of different age groups and gender.

The programme, which began last week, involves different levels of training for the constabulary and officers. The expert team has conducted sessions with eight police stations so far — Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Malabar Hill, Dadar, Kurla, Marine Drive, and Gamdevi police stations and some traffic and crime branch units. The team has been interacting with police officers in batches to try to understand how they communicate with the public on a daily basis.

Based on these inputs, they will design tailor-made course materials of various levels. The personalised training will differ based on the unit’s nature – the module for a traffic policeman will be different from that of a policeman sitting in the control room. The top brass of the Mumbai police have been worried by the growing complaints about policemen on the ground being rude to the public and not taking their complaints seriously.

A couple of years back, even singer Asha Bhosle had complained about how traffic cops were often rude to citizens. There were also a lot of complaints about the language used by traffic policemen. “To avoid such situations it is important that an officer-in-charge handles the citizen tactfully,” said a senior police officer. “He should be able to make them understand their mistake and at the same time be polite to them.

To do this, he needs to have very good communication skills and this programme aims at achieving the same.” On the other hand officers who sit in the control room and attend to hundreds of calls every day and deal with an array of complainants require a different set of skills. They will be trained to speak to citizens the same way as people in a call centre would.

“The training aims at improving the soft skills and interpersonal skills of the force,” said additional commissioner of police (protection and security) Madhukar Pandey, who heads the programme. “We come into contact with many people from every walk of life, including children, women, and senior citizens. They need to be handled differently. An officer must be patient enough to listen to their grievance and handle them politely.”

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