KARACHI: In a bid to monitor their behaviour towards road users and common men and also for security surveillance of their personnel, the Karachi police are procuring some 800 body-worn cameras — a first such move to equip the “force on ground” with the latest gadgets in line with the recent plan of technological reforms in the law enforcement agency, it emerged on Sunday.

Official sources said that the city police had already completed the formalities for the procurement of the bodycams placing the order to a national organisation that was expected to make a delivery within a couple of weeks.

“The Karachi police have signed a deal with a ministry of defence production’s subsidiary organisation NRTC [National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation] for that purpose,” said an official.

“It’s a Rs120 million project that includes procurement of body cameras, their deployment and proper training of its use among the personnel. Among the consignment of 800 cameras, 250 would be handed over to the Karachi traffic police. The whole process may take a month or a little more to complete,” the official said.

Under Rs120m project, 800 policemen will be equipped with body cameras

DIG-Traffic Ahmed Nawaz Cheema confirmed to Dawn that the department had already been “formally conveyed” about getting 250 bodycams for its force and these would be distributed among those personnel who had been authorised to deal directly with road users, commuters and traffic violations.

“The Karachi traffic police have around 478 officials who are directly involved in such operations [dealing with road users and commuters]. It would be a good start with 250 bodycams and we hope that the number would increase gradually,” he said.

An official at the Karachi Police Office (KPO) said that the plan was part of the technological reforms in the force that aimed at modernising policing through technology and training of the personnel. The budget of the Sindh police, he said, earmarked last year covered the cost of such initiatives.

He also referred to the same plan launched in 2016 when the traffic authorities had 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.

However, he said, the 2016 initiative couldn’t sustain for a long amid lack of funds.

With an increase of over Rs6 billion, the Sindh government last year had allocated Rs119.97 billion in the head of law and order in its budget for fiscal year 2021-22, compared to Rs113.87bn allocated in the last fiscal year.

Apart from the traffic personnel, another official at the KPO said that remaining bodycams would be provided to all three zones of the city police — East, South and West. The personnel in their daily operation and policing in these zones would be equipped with the bodycams, he added.

“For instance, in the South zone, policemen on patrolling in the Seaview area will be equipped with body cameras,” he said.

“After the duty hours of the traffic personnel, the footage [of the bodycams] would be saved in our database. It would give multiple advantages like monitoring of our personnel and also the security surveillance of the areas of their deployment,” said the official.

He added that in the second phase of this initiative, the personnel equipped with the bodycams would be directly linked with the command and control centre of the police for real-time monitoring and surveillance.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022

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