Community Policing

Bridging the Divide- The Karur Experience in Policing

Bridging the Divide- The Karur Experience in Policing the Community
Tamil Nadu Police Department

UN_logo    Sandeep Mittal, I.P.S.




The Problem

During my field visits to Karur District of Tamilnadu, I found through news papers and my interaction with local villagers that the Young Superintendent of Police of Karur District Mr Sandeep Mittal, IPS is implementing his innovative ideas to make the police people- friendly and responsive to their needs. In my opinion this innovative idea need unqualified support and I strongly recommend this nomination for UNPSA- 2007.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
May, 2003 to July, 2004

 (a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Situation before the initiative began:

The Karur District of Tamil Nadu is located between the rivers Cauvery and Amaravathy of South India. The Karur District is known for its textile exports all over the world and the major population of the district is rural in nature and settled in far-off villages. The district has the problem of wide spread trade in illicit liquor mainly affecting the village youths. Moreover a gap existed between the police and public making it difficult for the Public to come forward and present their grievances to the senior police officers as most of them are staying in villages in far-flung areas. A strong barrier in communication between the villagers and police existed.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Keeping in view the prevailing law and order, crime and socio-economic conditions in Karur District,’ ‘the Karur model of policing the community through the community policing way’ was designed in consultation with the Police Sub-divisional officers, Station House Officers, and representative of the people like village Panchayat Presidents etc.,. The following goals were set:(i) To improve the image of Police and reach out to the common men.
(ii) To prevent and reduce the crimes in the district.
(iii) To improve the prohibition enforcement in the district.

A number of meetings were conducted with the village Panchayat Presidents, subordinate Police Officers and various section of the society like Karur Chamber of Commerce and various organized groups and the above goals were established.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
A Police leader is a public servant who is a keeper of the public trust. The general tendency among the police officers is to react to police related problems in a community as and when problem arises. This is not effective leadership. The police leaders must play a pro-active role forcefully and decisively in conducting the leadership role in the community to develop support and resources and offer alternative solutions to police related problems. But he must have basic awareness of the problems and prepare strategy which provide better results.So it was decided to organize Police-Public interface camps in different parts of the district to achieve the above objective. As part of the strategy it was decided that the Superintendent of Police will visit the villages for which wide publicity would be given regarding the date, time and place through tom-tom and distribution of pamphlets. Nobody would be allowed to act as a mediator between Police and Public. The Police officers would sit on the ground with the villagers to break the barrier in communication between the Police and Public and also drive home the point that ‘ the Police is for them, with them – always’. The officers would receive the petitions from the members of public and try to solve their problems on the spot if possible. As a goodwill gesture various sports like Kabadi match between the local police and village youths and musical chair for the village women would be organized. This would not only remove hesitation from the minds of people, but a boy who has played Kabadi with police would never throw a stone over police during law and order problem. The above simple strategy was designed to achieve the objectives listed above.

It was also decided that subordinate police officers like sub-divisional Police Officers and station house officers should take the lead during such interface programmes for establishing a direct rapport with villagers.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized.
(i) Qualitative assessment:
It will be pertinent to go through the media reports on Karur model of policing which will give an insight in to the qualitative impact of the Karur model of policing in the district.
– The National daily The Hindu on September 15 , 2003 reported “…. the recent initiative by the Superintendent of Police Mr. Sandeep Mittal, in reaching out to the villagers has been a new experience in achieving a better Police-Public relationship. Mr. Mittal who has been going after the boot-leggers in the district since he took over a couple of months back with relentless raids being the order of the day believes that the carrot and stick policy in containing illicit liquor trade would yield the desired results in due course of time…. . …. Mr. Mittal stressed the need for a better Public-Police interaction and told the people how it was important for them to give up drinking as well as selling illicit liquor. Making it clear that prohibition raids would continue to haunt the boot-leggers in the district the SP sought the cooperation of the villagers in the venture observing that there were other means to lead a better and less precarious life…. . …. the villagers promised to do their bit in preventing crimes and prohibition related offences in their area. They were pleased that the Superintendent of Police himself heard their grievances while voicing that more such meetings would encourage them to assist the police….”.
– As a result of information flowing in from Public a major seizure of illegal lottery tickets worth Rs.54.14 lakh was effected by Karur Police on December 13, 2003.- As a result of intelligence input from public many illegal gambling dens were choked after a mass raid was conducted on December 9, 2003.- The National daily The Hindu on February 7, 2004 reported “…. led by the
Superintendent of Police officers go out to the villages and sit with the people to receive petitions and solve their problems wherever possible. Such meetings have been held at Esanatham, Marudhur and Thottakurichy and some more are in the pipeline. These efforts have left a lasting impression in the minds of the Public that the Police are willing to help them…. . …. men in uniform are trying to bridge the divide between them and the public whom they are supposed to serve….”.

(2) Quantitative assessment:
Let us have a look at the general crime trends in Karur District.
(i) The grave crimes reported in the District show a down-trend as compared during the last 2 years. As compared to 2002 the grave crimes (Murder, Murder for gain, robbery, Dacoity, attempt to murder etc.,) have been reduced by about 32% in the year 2003.
(ii) As compared to 2002 the violent crimes have come down by about 16 % during the year 2003.
(iii) Due to influx of intelligence from the public regarding the illicit liquor trade in the district after the beginning of community policing, the prohibition enforcement improved considerably in the district. 30 notorious boot-leggers were detained under law during, this period and the number of quality cases registered against prohibition offenders increased considerably.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?

As the Karur model of policing does not involve any additional expenditure and widely welcomed by the members of the public it is easily sustainable over a Period of time including the replicability with ease in other geographic locations.


This initiative has been used by myself in Tuticorin, Kanniyakumari and Karur Districts at different levels and for achieving different area-specific objectives of policing. Because of its simplicity, it is easily replicable and transferable to situations where interaction with masses is of prime importance. However, I am a firm believer that any model of policing should be flexible enough to give liberty to its adapter, so that it can be adopted with certain modifications to achieve specific objectives through innovative and imaginative use of one’s own ideas.

The Karur model of policing is based on ‘The Tuticorin Experiment’ conducted at the sub-divisional level in Tuticorin district during the year 1998-1999 to handle communally sensitive situations. Now the same concept was utilized at the district level without many changes. (The Tuticorin experiment was recommended by Bureau of Police Research and Development, Govt. of India, New Delhi to all other states in India to be adopted by them. This shows the inclusion of this concept in the National Policy. The S.V.P. National Police Academy, Hyderabad, has included this concept in the compendium on Good Practices in Police, 2004 and Golden Jubilee edition of The Indian Police Journal.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?

a. One of the major challenges before the police today is try to improve its image and reach out to the people. It is only through these methods that one is able to get timely intelligence and cooperation from the public to deal with situation leading to major law and order problems and even grave crimes.

b. The people to whom we serve are our masters and if we are able get their goodwill and gratefulness, it will go a long way in maintaining peace and tranquility in the society.

Shri Sandeep Mittal, an IPS Officer of 1995 Batch, completed B. Sc. (Honours) Geology with University Gold Medal and M.Sc. Applied Geology with University Gold Medal, both from University of Delhi. He earned Degree of Master’s in Police Management from Osmania University, Diploma in Cyber Security and Postgraduate Diploma in Cyber Crime Investigation and Cyber Forensics from Gujarat Forensic Science University, Gandhinagar . He is a Postgraduate in Cyber Defence and Information Assurance from Cranfield University, UK. He conducted a number of experiments in people friendly policing to bridge the divide between police and public. He headed the Security of Asia Pacific’s largest prison i.e. Tihar Prisons, New Delhi. While serving in Narcotics Control Bureau under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India as Zonal Director he was instrumental in liquidating a number of National and International drug syndicates and developed his skills in cyber crime investigation. He is a Chevening Cyber Security Fellow, UK; a Commonwealth Scholar in Internet Law & Policy a t University of Strathclyde, UK; an Associate of Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi and a Life Member of United Services Institution of India, New Delhi; Indian Society of Criminology, India and Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. He is member, Editorial Board of Indian Journal of Criminology and Criminalistics, a peer reviewed journal. He has published research papers in reputed peer reviewed Journals.

2 comments on “Bridging the Divide- The Karur Experience in Policing

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  2. It’s laborious to seek out knowledgeable individuals on this matter, but you sound like you realize what you’re talking about! Thanks


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