Breakfast Meeting – Protection of Life and Property in Chennai

AMCHAM’s Tamil Nadu Chapter held a breakfast meeting on ‘Protection of Life and Property in Chennai’ on August 16th, 2018 at Hotel Westin Velachery. Mr. Rajan Aiyer, Vice Chairman – Tamil Nadu Chapter, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Trimble Information Technologies, chaired the meeting which featured guest speaker Dr. A. K. Viswanathan IPS, Additional Director General of Police & Commissioner of Police, Chennai.


The meeting began by Mr. Rajan Aiyer welcoming participants and Commissioner Viswanathan, followed by members introducing themselves and their companies. At the outset, members were informed that the perception of the state of Tamil Nadu as a place where violence or emotional outbursts follow the death of a mass leader had to change. In the recent past, two political leaders both of whom served as Chief Minister and with mass following, had passed away. Though several lakhs of people from across the state descended on Chennai, there was no violence, no destruction of public or private property and no innocent life was lost. So, it has been well established that Chennai and the state of Tamil Nadu maintains peace and public order during any crisis.


The Commissioner began his address by thanking AMCHAM for inviting him to speak to members on policing in Chennai. He said that Chennai City Police jurisdiction spreads over 1,000 sq km with a population of 12 million and a police force of 22,500 officers, men and women. The Commissioner said that to maintain law and order and for crime prevention and detection, the city has 135 police stations and 35 all women police stations (AWPS). Officers at these stations are only allowed to respond to certain crimes, such as psychological violence, domestic violence, family violence, as well as specific types of threats and sexual violence. Besides that, the city has Special Armed Police units, white collar crime units, cyber-crime units, etc.


Dr. Viswanathan stated that in order to keep Chennai safe, there was constant patrolling of all areas by foot, motorcycle, jeeps and vans. The response time for distress calls is between 2-5 minutes. He said the focus was to reach out to the public and attend to complaints. Under his watch, all officers are available between 8:00 am and 11:00 pm. He also said that officers have a fixed time when they remain at their offices or police stations to meet with the public who seek police assistance.


The Commissioner was happy to state that there has been no labour related incidents in Chennai city, while there has been public agitations related to Jallikattu, NEET, Cauvery water etc, which was managed well. The major concern that the police have in the city was that of chain and mobile phone snatching by motorcycle borne robbers. Visible patrolling has been introduced as a preventive measure. The Commissioner said that the National Crime Records Bureau has ranked Chennai as the safest city for women in the country.


The other major problem on Chennai’s roads is the menace of driving/riding under the influence of alcohol. To combat this, the Commissioner said that he has introduced a 2 shift night patrolling roster for officers and men who conduct vehicle checks, DUI tests and night patrolling. The Commissioner said that the city does not have a night life and most restaurants and shops down by 11:00 pm.


The Commissioner said that the city police were often accused of bribe taking and to reverse the trend, he has introduced a system of cashless spot fine payments, where a motorist who is caught breaking the law can pay on the spot using his credit card, debit card and obtain a receipt. Alternatively, the motorist can also pay at the post office or at court. The traffic police also counsel motorists on the adverse effects of DUI.


One of the major policy initiatives introduced by Commissioner Viswanathan was to bring the entire city under CCTV coverage. He said that close to 100,000 CCTV cameras have already been installed across the city. The Commissioner and his team of officers are appealing to all resident associations/societies, commercial establishments and business houses to install CCTV cameras in their premises with at least one camera focusing on the road. The Commissioners said that the government too will pitch in by installing CCTV cameras at road intersections and places where public movement is high. This drive is set to be accomplished soon making Chennai the first city in India to have 100% CCTV coverage.


In a bold move, the Commissioner announced his mobile phone number and said that the public can reach him 24×7 and it would be best to send him a WhatsApp message and expect a quick response from the top cop in the city. The Police Commissioner’s mobile number is 9444000029.


While talking about how the police have to keep up with technology and clever modus operandi of the criminals, the Commissioner said that with cheap air fares, criminal gangs fly down to Chennai by an early morning flight, indulge in chain snatching at about 4 to 5 places and return by the evening/late night flight with a booty of over Rs. 10 lakh. The Commissioner also said that the police have been able to solve many crimes by analyzing the mobile phone records of criminals and victims and have successfully solved many crimes. Recent media reports state that the criminals have now resorted to using high end walkie-talkie phone sets to avoid detection. Yet another challenge the Chennai Police will soon find ways to beat.


A very useful interactive session followed the talk by the Commissioner and many AMCHAM members have committed to use their CSR funds to install CCTV cameras. The Commissioner responded that he would get his officers to contact the company and take this forward. The Commissioner said that it was left to the company to select the number of CCTV cameras, areas to be covered and the brand of the equipment to be procured by the company. The police would lend whatever assistance is required.


The meeting ended with Mr. Rajan Aiyer thanking the Commissioner for addressing AMCHAM members and highlighting the various nuances of policing in a metropolitan city.