Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Delhi Cop Monika Bhardwaj, Ignore The Trolls. You Did Good.

It's a curious, hungry, angry world on social networks. Social Media reflects the microcosm of our society. We have cynics as well as applauders. But we also have marauders who use the anonymity of space to be offensive too - trolls!

After this tweet by a sensitive and a communicative Delhi Police Officer, she was horribly trolled.

Here is what she tweeted, and see what happened. (Monika Bhardwaj is a young IPS officer, an Additional Deputy Commissioner Police, West District in Delhi Police.)

I recall I was asked a question on my Twitter handle as to whether it's appropriate for a senior cop to disclose the nationalities of the accused, to which I tweeted back saying, yes, if it is to nip nefarious rumours and in the larger good of society, if it is to maintain peace and harmony. (I believe it helped )

The police was swift in taking action in arresting the accused involved in the brutal lynching of dentist Pankaj Narang, who was killed with hockey sticks and his rods by a mob at his own home in Vikaspuri. The police were well-aided by technology - pictures captured by CCTVs privately installed by other residents in the area

The good news is that people have become very conscious of maintaining security in their own area. They are filling a vacuum.

But the question I wish to highlight is whether Indian Police services are using social media enough, both for crime prevention and crime detection? Is it being used to its full potential to raise general awareness and seek participation and support?

The fact that Ms Monika Bhardwaj got trolled and was abused is indicative of not enough use of the social network in normal and better times...and certainly not enough two-way traffic.

There is a sniff of cynicism from within the department also for reasons not understood (I can only conjecture). I believe the police organisation is still at the stage of formulating the policy on use of social media. An occasional page on traffic information or creating issue-based circles for views is just not enough. It's not vigorous to engage, provoke and encourage visitors to come to social network sites.
I believe it could do the police services good in current times to formulate and implement a proper social media plan when there is a large proliferation of smart phones. Use Facebook and Twitter and others in local languages for maximum participation, positive or negative. At least it will tell the police what people are thinking, which is important to know.  

Here are a few other steps which I think the social media policy could incorporate.

First and most important: the purpose of its use. What are the goals? What is being set out to be achieved? Social media could have various sections of traffic, crime prevention, crime interdiction, behavioural issues, satisfaction levels, ideas, observations, alerts, safety issues, initiatives, recognition, awards, new policies, experiences, feedback. The object is engagement with the community which increases security.

In a two-way communication, social network sites must become essential "go- to places".

Social networking is cost-effective. It comes at lightning speed. It enhances accountability of the police service (while providing anonymity to the troller - so be it!) I thought the police world over is used to brickbats, not kudos. The former is a daily affair while the latter is occasional. But this will increase once communication is well-conducted, has a face from the police department side, and is always well meaning for the larger safety of the community.

So what if Monika was abused? We cops are trained to deal with it. Earlier it was to our face. Now it's on the wire!

Well done, young friend. Keep up your communication, and do not get bullied by bullies. You also were appreciated. Hope your department appreciates what you did. You stopped rumour-mongering. You checked escalation of any further breach of peace.

You did your duty well. You are the new generation of tech-savvy, communicating cops, and a woman at that.