Local police should be trained in disaster management: study

Local police personnel are the first to reach any disaster site but there is no clarity about their role in such a scenario, a government-sponsored study has said.

Citing the example of Karnataka where there is no official document that indicate a specific role given to the police, it has suggested that local police should be given specialised training in disaster management.

The study ‘Role of Police in Disaster Management’ also suggested that the Disaster Management Acts and policies, Police Acts and police manuals should be amended to include disaster management as “one of the core function of police” like the way Bihar and Kerala has done.

“Police organisation has to see itself as a major player in disaster management. It will continue to have the first responder role given its proximity to the incident site and relationship with the people. Therefore it has to bring about change in its approach. It has to adopt disaster management function as a one of its primary functions,” the study authored by Additional Director General of Police (Railway) in Bihar Paras Nath Rai said.

The study is primarily based on Bihar but also covers Karnataka, Odisha and Assam, which are known to have well established structures and practices.

However, the states have no policy document on involving police. Assam police has not started training its police forces while there is little training of police.

“More or less similar situation existed in this state too…Discussions with the officials, including the secretary (Revenue who responsible for disaster management) showed that there is no document which can indicate specific role given to the police. Moreover, police is not being given any kind of specialised training for response in natural disasters,” the study said on Karnataka.

State and district level authorities cannot afford to wait for response specialized forces such as NDRF all the time and on many occasions, it might not be advisable or feasible to deploy armed forces and NDRF.

“Hence state police must be prepared as response force. The local police must be trained, equipped and supported with legislation and logistics so that they find themselves capable to support the victim in the golden ‘hour’,” it said.

(Appeared in Deccan Herald website on Sep 13, 2013)

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