Friends of Police Movement: a turnkey solution to fighting terror
Every citizen is a stakeholder in today's terror-scenario, just as the police have no time to relax or take lightly the threats that are just too many. We have been crusading with the "Friends of Police" concept (a platform for such concerned and involved citizen stake-holders). The FoP has however not caught the imagination of police leaderships countrywide as it should though ironically it is the only available international blueprint for community policing.
To quote another experienced police officer from Delhi Shri Maxwell Pereira,"The reluctance perhaps, because it is another's brainchild. They would do well though to realise that FoP is none other than formal nomenclature to an age old concept of basic community involved policing that empowers the individual to be part of the overall policing in which he has a stake where he can be the eyes and ears of the system and share the 'Intelligence' privy to him without suspicion of the others involved."
The recent Mumbai blasts reinforce the conviction that the war against crime, social injustice, terror, et al is not a leader's war but a peoples' war. The need to mobilise vast masses of citizens and all stakeholders is the only permanent deterrent. I realized this as a young police officer after surviving with severe injuries the world's first Human Bomb that killed the former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur and thereafter conceptualised the concept of Friends of Police, Factor X - a proactive thought process.
An amphibious multi-factor x attack such as the one that occured in Mumbai is not a mere act of terrorism but asymmetric warfare requiring not just preparation of the police or its antiterrorist component but but the army, navy and air force as well as the fire service, private security agencies and the wider public.
Constant visualisation by all these agencies of possible future asymmetric warfare scenarios is the first step in such preparation for to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The frontlines of warfare are no longer national boundaries but crowd centers and symbols of prestige, power, affluence and national security lying deep within our domestic territory. It calls for a reorientation of the deployment of the defence forces of the country such that the crack units of the army, navy, air force, police, paramilitary are not just deployed to guard the borders but also all such installations.
The surprise element is all about extending the frontline deeper and on a more spectacular scale than has ever happened before. Lateral thinking and imagination (examples 911 and Maximum Terror, 26-29 Nov, 08)is being used by our
quarries, the agents of asymmetric warfare while security agencies are operating on a precedent-driven paradigm of thinking, acting and reacting to what has happened before.
After the idea of Friends of Police Movement won the prestigious 15000 pounds.
Her Majesty the Queen's Award for Innovation in Police Training and Development,2002 in Commonwealth-wide competition, as many as 40000 FOP volunteers and an equal number of 40000 police personnel from constable to higher ranks have been trained as on date over the past five years by the FOP Multimedia Training Center in Chennai. The faculty fan out every year to all districts and cities and conduct workshops that train the police personnel and the FOPs in the Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge(ASK) of community policing. As many as 1000 such multimedia workshops have been conducted, unprecedented anywhere globally. The FOP multimedia Center is virtually the world's first community policing academy.
The practical fallout of such training is manifest in cases being detetected, intelligence being shared, conflict resolution, law and order problems being resolved or contained or pre-empted. A few case studies are attached herewith wherein FOPs have played such a role. Apart from these benefits, the 3,00,000 FOPs act as force multiplier. FOP is a hearts and minds strategy and not a mere eyes and ears one, hence it also leads to more enlightened and active citizenry.Following 911, the USA turned its attention on Homeland Security and
largely neutralised the exposed vulnerabilities by a slew of measures all coming under the umbrella of Homeland Security.
Should we not also as the world's largest soft(not Super) power with our vulnerabilities exposed by 26-29/11 also create a Department of Homeland Security as distinguished from the existing top-heavy skeletal National Security apparatus. Homeland Security has effectively prevented or pre-empted any major attack within the USA after the 911 devastation.
At the crux of Homeland Security are the annual investments of approximately $25 billion or a quarter of the budget of the US Secret Service on developing a Citizens' Intelligence Network, quite akin to the FOP concept that could create an architecture of intelligence and information flow right from ragpickers to the super rich who were largely the victims and targets in the most recent attacks in Aamchi Mumbai.
The need of the nation is a National but rational policy on Homeland Security that works on security issues, generates innumerable asymmetric wargame scenarios on a constant basis and not just when an attack takes place.
While Mumbaikars and Indians at large would like to affirm that enough is enough, from the perspective of the subterranean forces of darkness, enough is never enough. The more spectacular the assault is, the greater the adrenalin kick it gives the terrorists and their masterminds, be it national, subnational or non state. This implies that while these words are being typed out, some of these forces are out there planning another attack, more determined, more lethal and spectacular than the last one.
Such a reality calls for the entire opposing forces of the security dragnet and people everywhere need to be impregnated with a Factor X line of thinking. It also implies the formation of X Cells in cities, corporate organisations and police as well as other security forces. X Cells need to constantly review security apparatus, procedures and processes, generate possible creative threat visualisations and take steps to counter.
Talking to a former US police chief the other day, I learnt that the crux of the anti terror apparatus in the USA is the SWAT Team. Every town and city has a highly equipped and trained SWAT team(20 to 50 personnel available round the clock depending on the size of the community). She was surprised that a town of the size of Mumbai does not have such a SWAT Team.
These SWAT teams who can be mobilised even from neighbouring precincts under Mutual assistance agreements, have equipments like ballistic shields, rocket propellers that enable them to move with sufficient protection towards the threat X and neutralise it as soon as possible. To wait for the army to reach would invariably mean delay and the tactics of containment as opposed to directly neutralising the threat.
Therefore, the suggestions to fight terror are threefold :
1. Extend Friends of Police to all states in the country
2.Set up SWAT teams in all towns, installations and cities
3.Set up X cells in corporates, security forces
(Dr. Prateep V. Philip (IPS) is the Inspector General of Police, Tamil Nadu and Project Director , Friends of Police. For further details, read book,"The Friends of Police Movement: aRoadmap for Proactive People Protection " or google with Friends of Police or access website: www.friendsofpolice.net www.prateepphilip.com, www.eqthinking.com))
More about Prateep V. Philip
Inspector General of Police, Tamil Nadu