For the past two months now, Head Constable G Perumal has been riding through dark alleys and main roads of Chennai on a bicycle instead patrolling across the city on a vehicle that restricts him in terms of the areas he can visit and the number of people he can speak with. He now has the freedom to stop at a couple of places while passing through shops and residential areas to catch up with developments on new cases with the help of informers in the neighbourhood.
Perumal is one of the 1,000-odd police personnel who patrol the streets of Chennai on bicycles — armed with batons and walkie-talkies.
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This change in the mode of transportation during patrolling has made Perumal more of a guardian of the streets than an enforcer of the law. He has been interacting with many people in Mylapore and they inform him about suspected illegal activities, regular miscreants in the vicinity, and more.
“Bicycle patrolling is not to catch chain snatchers. Rather, it has developed into a concept that will aid in intelligence gathering,” a senior police official told The Times of India.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa gave 250 bicycles to the city police in June this year. Bicycles make the presence of police officers more apparent and help catch criminals who run away at the sight or sound of patrol vehicles. The old-school bicycle patrol has made officers in Chennai more alert, proactive and approachable. Moreover, bicycles are eco-friendly too. They speak with residents to gain new leads about different cases and this helps reach the root of the problem. They are also provided with walkie-talkies to request for backup in case of emergencies.