Mumbai: In keeping with the plan of increasing their online presence, the Mumbai police official Twitter handle @MumbaiPolice will be active from 10.30am on Monday.
In addition to this, the Mumbai police commissioner @CPMumbaiPolice handle, currently held by Ahmad Javed, will also go live at the same time.
You can now tweet your complaints to the Mumbai police and the police Commissioner directly and expect a quick response. A team working on the handles will be sifting through the tweets and forwarding the relevant ones to the Mumbai police for action.
Mumbai police commissioner Ahmad Javed said the decision to come on Twitter was prompted by a need to have a “fruitful engagement” with the residents of the city and to communicate with them on a larger platform. “This also ensures that citizens have a platform to communicate with the police,” Javed told.
Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police, law and order, told The Indian Express: “The Internet density has gone up in a big way in the past couple of years. This will help us get better feedback from the people directly.” He added that they have tied up with an agency that will be hand holding them for some time, before their personnel can learn how to operate it with ease.
Bharti added that while it may well be an informal platform, relevant complaints will be taken to its logical conclusion. “The complaints will be passed on to the deputy commissioner of the zone under whose jurisdiction the ‘place of crime’ falls. The DCP will then pass it on to the concerned police station that will handle the matter from there on,” said Bharti. An officer said that if the complainant could mention some contact detail like his/her e-mail address and the place of crime as mentioned in the tweet, it will help police to respond faster.
An officer added that the handle will be inaugurated after the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweets about the new initiative it around 10.30am. Following Fadnavis’s tweet, both the handles will go live. In order to popularise the Twitter handles, the agency managing the Twitter handles have also approached some big names with large following on Twitter such as actor Amitabh Bachchan and cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, who has already tweeted about it.
The agency had approached Vivek Phansalkar, who was the joint commissioner of police (administration) earlier this year and convinced him about the need for Mumbai police to come on Twitter.
Convinced, Phansalkar spoke to the then commissioner Rakesh Maria following which the proposal was taken ahead. “We had done research on the mentions that Mumbai police had on Twitter and found that majority of the responses were neutral, followed by good and bad response,” said an official from the agency. We convinced them that if they came on the platform and communicated to the people directly, rather than through the media, it would help convert the negative responses they get online into positive ones.
“This, in addition to the fact that having an official Twitter handle, could help police douse rumour-mongering more efficiently and the fact that they could respond and communicate people directly through the medium is what eventually got them convinced,” the official said.
Apart from these two, several senior Mumbai police officers have started coming on Twitter and the force also plans to soon set up a Facebook page using which they could interact with citizens. “While we were late in starting out with Delhi and Bangalore police already having a presence on twitter, we hope to cover ground quickly,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
The ceremony to launch the @MumbaiPolice Twitter handle had however been delayed by at least two weeks, since someone had already been using the @MumbaiPolice handle. Twitter had offered the user @BrihanmumbaiPolice handle, something the force was not convinced about. Additional Commissioner of Police, KMM Prasanna, had been interacting with Twitter officials who finally managed to disable the handle of the person who was using that handle and then handed it over to the Mumbai police a week back paving the way for the force to respond to citizens 140 characters at a time.