Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dynamics of Police encounters - Part 1

The Dynamics of Police encounters - Part 1

Since 2002 I have been asked to assist the police on various ‘encounters’, including the recent Chennai Bank robbery gang. Having the twin advantage of the objectivity as a civilian who enjoys the front-row view of the inner dynamics of police-criminal confrontations, I have my two cents worth on the subject of police encounters.
I will be covering the Media's role in this first part. I will proceed to the encountered criminals' background and later how equipped is the force for effective policing.

Part I - Police encounters and the Media

THE REPONSIBILITY OF MEDIA
I totally accept the dictum that in a working democracy each institution, like Legislature, Judiciary, Politicians and the Media has also the responsibility of keeping each others in check. This prevents power being blatantly misused by any unchecked institution.

The media does its journalistic duty of putting everything on the proper perspective, by giving visibility to various points-of-view, substantiated by expert opinions.  

THE TWO EXTREMES OF THE DESPERATE JOURNALIST
The media should ideally provide a mirror without distortion. But most of them resort to either of the two extreme postures - nodding their heads in "YES..YES..YES" to whatever the power centres do or shaking their heads with an adamant "NO..NO..NO".
My agenda is not to get into the compulsive reasons for these desperate postures, but analyzing how these affect public psyche.
 

THE POLICE IN MASS- MEDIA
Now translating these extreme postures to popular cinema, we find only 2 kinds of police - totally corrupt and drunk with power or honest and adamantly naive. This is a very simplistic black and white interpretation suitable for the lowest common denominator of the audience.
But real life is more of a grey spectrum. A sophisticated creator is known by his ability to dwell in these grey areas. 

THE POLICE MAN CAUGHT IN THE TANGLED WEB
The police officer is caught in a web of Demanding political masters, the Cynical media, The Mafia which has the backing of money and power, Burgeoning urban crime graph and the poor Clueless law-abiding public who looks up to the police for protection. And he has to tackle all these with a force lacking in technology and motivation. 

THE RESPONSIBLE JOURNALIST
A responsible journalist will understand this and not fall into easy routes of whipping up emotional jingoism or paranoia. Unfortunately, most of the field level reporters lack the intellect to be analytical; at the most they can be only be investigative. They look for obvious interpretations which fit into the template of their theories.
Its the onus of Seniors in journalism to show how to walk the mid-path of responsible reporting.
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Other relevant posts -

S.SREERAM
Co-ordinator / Instructor, Chennai Chapter, Krav Maga (IKMF) India
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