What started as an idea by Eleterio Carneiro while he kept a check on cattle entering his paddy fields, the community policing has grown by leaps and bounds, keeping the crime and anti-socials away from Navelim. The community patrolling team has now grown to 25 members, and spread to four neighbouring villages. In an interview with Carneiro, a teacher by profession, ‘The Navhind Times’ reporter Joao Sousa M finds out more about the community policing, which has helped to keep burglars at bay. Here are the excerpts:
Q: How did the community policing come along?
It all started five years ago, when I used to visit my fields at night to keep a watch on stray cattle. When I noticed suspicious activities amongst youth and migrants besides dumping of garbage, I called for a meeting of the villagers. We also met the then Margao PI Sudesh Naik, who suggested to form a team of volunteers interested in the community policing.
Q: Would you like to list the challenges faced during the community policing.
To start with, I used to move around the village covering all the 11 wards alone. I was later joined by another villager Bernado Pereira. Over a period of time many youth joined us. Today, we have a team of 25 members, who take turns to move around the village. Now, people from neighbouring villages of Dramapur-Sirlim, Telaulim, Aquem-Baixo and parts of Margao are also doing the community policing.
Q: What is the role of the police in the community policing?
Community policing works in co-ordination with the Margao town police, wherein there is a continuous contact with the beat officer over naka-bandi points. A police constable also joins us while we move around the village. The volunteers monitor the village on a rotation basis by moving around an hour each in different wards. The community policing grew after the top brass of the Goa police along with villagers came in contact through a whatsapp group, which was created by beat officer Wasim Sheikh. We have received good support from all the police inspectors from town police station, which has also helped us in keeping criminal activity under check.
Q: Can you recall any instances of crime being averted?
The number of crimes has dropped drastically. The team has foiled five attempts of house break-ins, which led to the arrest of a person. The community policing team was instrumental in identifying spots of alleged drug peddling. The spots have been brought to the notice of the police. Cases of youth taking drugs were also reported. The community policing volunteers have also averted dumping of garbage in the village at various places.
Q: Did the volunteers receive any kind of training from the police?
No. But I had received some training during my term as AO in the NCC naval wing. We move around the village with an unarmed constable. There is a need to provide armed policemen. There have been instances, wherein migrants were found with unlicensed guns. Recently, shooting cases have been reported in Aquem.
Q: Had there been any adverse experience during the community policing?
Yes. I was attacked thrice. Once I was attacked by a professional thief, and later my car was attacked and damaged by drug peddlers during our night patrolling.
Q: What is the role of your family, and financial implications towards the community policing?
My family has been very supportive all along towards the community policing. Because of the attacks, my wife has asked me not to do community policing alone. As far as financial aspect is concerned, I dedicate 15 per cent of my earnings to this cause as there is no financial support for the community policing. We travel around 150-200 km every night from 11 pm to 4 am, covering all the 11 wards.
Q: Where do you see community policing moving from here?
Many neighbouring villages have started taking initiative in starting community policing. People in Navelim have accepted community policing, and ask us to keep a watch on their houses when they are away during festivals or otherwise. This time, we received 35 requests from families because of Ganesh Charturti celebration.