The FOP Movement was started in 1993 in Ramanathapuram (Ramnad) District, Tamilnadu by Mr.Prateep V.Philip I.P.S. when he was serving as the Superintendent of Police (SP). The FOP concept was born as the answer to the quintessential question-how can we (police) share power with the people? Though FOP emerges from the community policing philosophy, it goes even beyond community policing. Within a few months of its inception, nearly 1000 members of the public from all walks of life volunteered to become FOPs in Ramnad district. Following the Chief Minister's announcement recently after a state level conference extending the FOP movement to the entire Tamil Nadu it has received further fillip. It is expected that the movement will go a long way to transform the police image, open up channels of communication and provide a reservoir of goodwill, feedback, intelligence and manpower.
A survey of constables from all the police stations in Ramnad District revealed that whereas prior to the introduction of the FOP they considered(or felt) that they had no friends among the public, at a subsequent survey of the same constables revealed an improvement in their morale after they had begun to interact with members of the public. That was the impact that the FOP movement had had on them! The public found the police more accessible, friendly and willing to share power and responsibility with some of their own ilk.
When the movement was started in 1993 and the benevolent impact it had on the constables and members of the public was felt, several individuals from across the District border wished to be considered for the FOP membership. A presentation at the Chief Minister’s conference of FOP movement’s model and success led to the passing of a GO extending this scheme to bridge the Police-Public gap to the whole of Tamil Nadu in the summer of ‘94. This is considered as the “cornerstone” of this initiative which then spread its wings throughout the Nation and later brought global recognitions.
The prestigious British Queen's Award for Innovation in Police Training and Development was presented to Mr. Prateep V. Philip I.P.S, DIG, Intelligence from Tamilnadu. The award in 2002 came with a corpus fund of close to 11 lakh rupees which went into the setting up of a Mult-media Training & Documentation Center in Chennai which is focused on building better community relations between Police and public by providing training & awareness to both police officers and the community.
The impact and success made Mr. Philip think of making FOP a trans-locally and transnationally relevant movement which can serve as a blueprint for every conscientious citizen. With this in mind, he wrote to 40 leaders of community policing across the globe requesting them to disseminate this vision. This led to the Organization of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois, Chicago publishing it in CJ Europe and on the World Wide Web entitling it-‘An International Blueprint for Community Policing”.
- The Texas Police Journal,
- The L & O Management Magazine(USA),
- The Police Journal(UK),
- International Police Review (Jane)
- And almost in all the national and State police journals.
Several internationally - known police thinkers and writers like Dr.David Bayley acknowledged the power of the FOP concept. Dr Jan Wierda of the Netherlands police and a leader of community policing in his own right stated in a televised interview that the “FOP is one of the most powerful community policing programmes he has come across in the world.”
The paper on FOP accepted for an international East –West Sharing Experience Conference in Slovenia in 1996 is published on the website of National Criminal Justice Resources (www.ncjrs.org).
Presentations on FOP were made at several All India Police Science Congresses, Criminology seminars; National workshops including a National seminar on Crime Prevention in Chennai in 2003, in a seminar organized by the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi on “Smart Policing in the 21st Century” and recently at a National workshop in Bangalore on “Citizens’ Participation in Crime Prevention”. Several presentations on FOP were also made at the elite National Police Academy, Hyderabad, sowing the seed in the minds of police leaders across India.
Community policing is the forging of cost effective problem-solving partnership between the police and the community. The basis of police authority cannot be mere law; it has to be trust of the community as well aptly sums up the ideology behind community policing.
Apart of the pan-India Overarching Community Policing Model, all States and UTs are looking for FOP as the only solution for Crime Prevention. The model is based on a decentralized beat policing as the foundation which serves as the force multiplier in Crime Prevention.
Innovation in policing requires an atmosphere of trust which can help create a Citizens’ Intelligence Network to augment national security and a willingness to experiment, exchange ideas both within & outside the police thereby empowering the citizens to contribute to crime prevention, detection as well as maintenance of law and order.
The purpose of FOP is to spread the concept of Community Policing. It is designed to increase the capacity of police officers to make instant decisions, engage in problem- solving activities and facilitate partnership between police and the public to make the police, people friendly and make the people, police friendly.
- To bring Police and Public close
- To enable members of the public without regard to caste, creed or status, to establish rapport with police force. It is a method of people empowerment.
- Correcting negative image of the police and projecting a two way positive image.
- To increase transparency and openness in the police.
- To create a sense of belonging and responsibility-support and faith of the people.
- To promote a sense of civic responsibilities and duties among the public by means of educating the general public.
- Right information at the right time -To promote crime awareness among the people and enable prevention of crimes.
- Education-Create crime awareness-enables prevention of crime.
- Public will come to know the good work of police while police will get public sentiments on all levels.
- To act as a force multiplier by involving the FOPs in community policing. With the existing low police-public ratio, FOPs along with Police can deter and prevent crimes.
- To make available a potential pool of manpower resources with positive attitudes to the police to meet the requirement of police.
- To channel local resources at short notice to meet any eventuality.
- To educate the members of the public about their role and responsibility in policing.
- To learn as well as to teach human values.
In a recent present study conducted in 2012, the Sub-Inspector (SI) cadets from the Tamilnadu Police academy were given Interview schedules to be administered to three members of the public in the jurisdiction of a particular police station and they were asked to gather data on FOP and other initiatives in community policing. A structured testing on awareness, existence and contribution of FOPs in the field was done. The study was conducted by eliciting information from the general public on the contribution of FOPs to society and their limitations / challenges.
- To find out the extent to which FOP is practiced in the State of Tamil Nadu among other Community Policing initiatives measured in terms of
- Awareness of FOP
- Involvement of FOP
- To find out how many among the citizenry are serving with the police personnel as FOPs
- To find out the motivation of the individuals l in serving as FOPs
- To find out if there are any benefits to the Police Department
Samples: The samples for the study involved the Station House Officers and the general public associated with policing. Accordingly 225 samples were obtained to elicit information pertaining to involvement of community in policing.
- Awareness on Community policing - The findings indicated that a majority of 64%of the public are aware of the existence of community participation in policing and 36% of them are not aware of it.
- Awareness on FOP – When asked on the awareness on various police-public partnership schemes that exists, the findings showed that 57%of the public mentioned about the presence of FOP. One of the main reasons for this awareness of FOP is due to regular Government training programmes which are the first of its kind in India. Village Vigilance Committee (VVC) finds its place next in the table with 19% while 13% of the samples mentioned that they knew about Beat Officers System. Many police officers have mentioned that FOPs are better than Home Guards who are paid and leave after a stipulated time allotted to them by official norms, whereas FOPs stay back until they are requested by the officers to leave.
- Public prefer to be a FOP – The study also shows that 57%of civilians prefer being a FOPs among other Community Policing initiatives. Being a FOP provides a commoner an identity and it also fosters leadership skills. Many mention that it gives them a sense of satisfaction and a means of exhibiting their patriotism in serving the country and society.
- Longer partnerships with FOP – As many as46% FOPs have completed 20 months are above in their role and assistance to Police while 36% have completed more than 10 months. This indicates there is mutual TRUST yielding to longer partnerships among Public and Police.
- Benefits of being a FOP - 37% of them mentioned that they became FOPs to take police help in emergencies. However it may be said that this response is followed by 29% mentioned that being an FOP gave them a sense of identity and pride. 24% of the FOPs felt that it is a service to society. Ex-servicemen and Senior citizens who have a flair for social service joined FOP to contribute their time for the welfare of society. It is also seen that there was no expectation of any kind to serve as FOP - monetary or otherwise.
- Benefits to the Police department through the FOP program – Station House Officers and Police personnel mentioned that, 36% FOPs were helpful in intelligence about both natural calamities as well as sensitive information regarding a crime scenario. This response is followed by assistance in Bandobust where crowd management requires enormous strength - FOPs were of great help in providing assistance in remote areas of the State. One aspect that has not been mentioned in the findings is that the FOPs involved themselves to help in any situation. It includes grievance redressal at the police station where they helped in drafting letter of complaints on behalf of illiterate persons and representing the same effectively for quick settlement.
Survey Conclusion – The study findings clearly show that the general public are aware of the FOP movement and prefer being a FOP taking pride in partnering with Police in serving the country and society. It is also seen that a majority has mentioned that the benefit of being a FOP is to maintain a relationship with the police department along with gaining recognition for their service.