Night police checks only on camera
Vehicles on the streets will be checked at night only at points that are covered by CCTV cameras and officers involved in the check must have their body cameras switched on, a directive from Lalbazar says.
The body cameras will record the act of checking vehicles and the footage will be preserved, states the directive issued on Thursday night.
“This decision has been taken to avoid confusions in case questions are raised by someone during a night check,” said Santosh Pandey, joint police commissioner overseeing traffic movement.
The directive was issued hours after Calcutta police commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal told classical vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan and his wife Joyeeta Basu Khan that their complaint that the police had tried to extort money from their driver early on Wednesday was being investigated.
Basu Khan had alleged on Wednesday that the police had stopped their car on EM Bypass and threatened to implicate the driver in a drink-driving case if he did not pay Rs 2,000.
The vehicle was on its way to the airport to drop off musicians who had performed with the vocalist at a show, she had said.
A senior officer said every police station and traffic guard would have to inform the police control room in Lalbazar in advance of the locations where they planned to conduct checks each night.
“The directive has been sent to all traffic guards and police stations and also to senior officers who remain present during night checks.”
Night checks on vehicles are conducted across the city from 10pm. Each police station draws up its schedule for such checks.
At points where night checks are conducted, officers from the nearest police station and the traffic guard are deployed.
An officer of the rank of assistant commissioner keeps tabs on the checks on vehicles in his or her area and sends a report to the deputy commissioner of police the next morning stating the number of vehicles checked and the number of drivers prosecuted.
“So long most of us would switch on body cameras while dealing with a woman. For routine checks they would not be switched on,” said a traffic sergeant.
“Following the new directive, we will have to keep the cameras switched on while conducting routine night checks, too.”
Once fully charged, a body camera can continuously record for over three-and-a-half hours, said an officer of the Tollygunge traffic guard.
Motorists who often ply at night welcomed the move, saying it would curb the tendency among a section of officers to extort money.
“The camera will continuously record what I am saying in response to what the officer says. This is good,” said a Behala resident who drives home from Howrah late at night daily.