Students of Delhi University's Miranda House recently sat down for a coffee with police and were allowed a view inside the life of a law enforcer, with the squad showing up with its "all too human" face.
The North district of Delhi Police with Miranda House held its 'Coffee with a Cop' – a series of interactions with students in a relaxed setting. For the college, the initiative is meant to help create a gender and safety audit for the university.
The first session of the series was held on September 21 - on the occasion of International Day of Peace – with a batch of 100 students and was addressed by Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi.
Police aim to have such chats twice every month with a group of 20 to 40 students and discuss topics ranging from career counselling, law and order, policing, addressing student-police conflict, and community service, Kalsi said.
The officer said the idea behind the initiative is to soften students' stance towards police who have come to be seen as an "insensitive body." He hopes once the beat staffers start interacting with students, they will understand that police are no different and the sight of the 'khaki' will soon stop intimidating them.
"Their attitude towards police will change. The more friendly the interactions would be, the more certainly they will understand that police officials are also sensitive," he said.
The Delhi Police said Miranda House College was the first college to be approached by it and it will take its cue for future sessions from this interaction to approach other colleges and universities.
Under the initiative, students will get a chance to interact with the police rank and file, as well as top guns such as the Assistant Commissioner of Police and Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police.
These cops will address their queries and counsel them on their careers, Kalsi said.
The idea is also to create a civic sense among college students and familiarise them with "Khaki" by giving them a sneak peek into what it is like being a cop and how as a cop, one deals with emergencies and maintains law and order, Kalsi said.
"Often students have many questions relating to our profession … Some students are inquisitive in nature in knowing about the role of police, law and order. So, this initiative is about addressing their queries, helping them with career building and also an opportunity for us to catch them young and create general civic sense in them," the DCP said.
The officer said the interaction would be different because they would be held in small groups and not in a top-down lecture hall setting with a huge crowd.
"Our aim to not only to give to the student community but also to learn from them. These sessions will also help us in understanding and knowing about issues concerning students, their perspective, their demands and viewpoints. This is a new generation and we will also have to evolve our policing accordingly.
"Everything is dynamic. So as per that what changes needs to be made in policing, we will incorporate that," Kalsi said.
The endeavour, if successful, will be an integral part of the 'Advik' – the University Intervention Programme of North District Police.
According to Kalsi, smaller group interactions will help students speak freely and come up with such questions as they may not ask in a big lecture hall.
"So, (when) there is familiarity, students feel comfortable in opening up to them (police) and have a fruitful conversation … this will also help in contact building, enhance efficiency and address the police-student conflicts," he said.
The north district plans to organise at least two sessions of 'Coffee with a Cop' per month, or, at least 20 sessions in a year.
Miranda House Principal Dr Bijayalakhshmi Nanda said the interaction will help the college identify vulnerable areas on the campus in terms of women safety and suggest measures to the university administration to rectify them.
"The idea behind this is to create a safety and gender audit for the university with the list of areas that need to be lit up and other aspects. Students have a lot of queries about the police and their own safety," she told PTI.
"The DCP has been very kind in helping with this initiative. We plan to have four weekly meetings in a month. This was started in mid-September. We have requested them to send more women police personnel for the interactions," Nanda added.
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