The Andhra Pradesh Police Department recently (on March 21) bagged three national-level awards for their outstanding performance and innovative policing methods. These include FICCI’s Best State Award, SKOCH Indian Award for the Country’s Best Director-General of Police, and the National Crime Record Bureau’s Award for Best Criminal Justice system.
Alongside, IPS officer Damodar Gautam Sawang (57) was selected as the country’s best DGP. He was awarded not only for his performance, but also for undertaking several technological reforms in the police department.
In an interview with The Better India, officer Gautam Sawang explains how he improved public safety and the police force’s efficiency, as well as introduced technological changes and innovative policing methods.
A tool for implementing concrete change
Gautam, a graduate of the 1986 police batch, was appointed as the Director-General of Police for Andhra Pradesh in May 2019. As a police officer, he says his aim has always been to think of innovative ways to improve policing and public safety.
“Technology is a tool to bring about change. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic led to our world becoming virtual, people were hooked to their mobile phones and other gadgets. Several people prefer to do everyday tasks with the click of a button, and I thought this could hold true for legal services too,” says Gautam.
However, to bring about concrete change, a change in the regular work process of police officers and the entire department was needed. “We began by introducing technological changes within the department. This included changing the filing system, complaint registering methods, and other administrative changes. It not only led to efficiency in work, but also increased transparency and accountability among the department,” says Gautam.
He also introduced new file managing systems that allowed speedy investigations and led to the completion of 85% of cases.
Online police services
Once internal changes within the department began to happen, Gautam decided to identify common issues for which people approach the police station. Apart from this, he also researched issues that people are reluctant to visit the police department for.
His next step was to introduce new ways for the public to access the police department.
“We came up with 79 different issues, including complaints of missing passports, house-watch requests, and filing an FIR, which was a common issue,” says Gautam, adding that filing an FIR was also considered a tiresome process as there was a long wait involved.
To make these processes smoother and readily accessible, in October 2020, the department introduced the AP Police Seva mobile application. Through this, people can report 79 different issues and collect documents by downloading them or emailing them.
“Within five months of launching the application, we saw as many as 2,64,000 FIR downloads,” Gautam says, adding that they also introduced the Disha Mobile app for women, which saw 12.57 lakh downloads within five months.
Through the app, the department received over 1 lakh SOS requests and over 900 actionable calls. Gautam says that through the lockdown, the app remained helpful to many users who were unable to reach the police station in person.
“With the help of a dynamic team, reliable officers, and incredible technological systems, we were able to achieve the changes I had hoped for. However, evolving and keeping up with the current times is what will help the department stay on top,” says Gautam.
Edited by Divya Sethu