'Special' force for Mumbai traffic cops 

The Mumbai Traffic Police is all set to give the post of 'Special Police officers' to over 15,000 people including National Service Scheme (NSS) students, activists, and volunteers, who will assist the traffic personnel in their daily duties. This special post is most likely to be given to the volunteers, who will be highly trained in traffic management, and help police to manage the junction congestion, creating awareness, use the e-challan machines and identify the violators. Their role is limited to assist the force which faces a serious manpower shortage with a mere 2,500 traffic cops on road.

A senior traffic police official told The Free Press Journal that the main objective to give the specially trained NSS students and volunteers a tag of 'Special Police Officer' is to encourage them to follow the traffic rules and create mass awareness. Speaking about the initiative, an officer said that according to the Bombay Police Act, any person between the ages 18 and 50, is eligible to be a special Police Officer to assist the Police Force on any occasion in case of riots or grave disturbance of the peace.

"According to the act, the special police officer has the same powers, privileges, and immunities and is liable to the same duties and responsibilities as an ordinary police officer, however, in this case, these special police officers will only assist the police personnel to identify the violator and penalised them, along with creating awareness," said the official. These special officers will only work in the presence of uniformed personnel to help traffic management.

These students and volunteers will also be trained in junction management, directing movement of vehicles, to use e-challan machines, and will issue them to the violators with the go-ahead of the traffic policeman on duty. Even if these special police officers are trained and given powers, the real enforcement will be done by the traffic police only, reiterated Yashasvi Yadav, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

Transport expert Ashok Datar welcomed the initiative and said that it was a great idea to get public involvement in traffic management. "The intensity of violation is so large that it becomes difficult for single traffic personnel to manage it. This additional force will help regulate traffic as well as instill traffic manners in the citizens through word of mouth. It's an excellent thought to give a post of 'special police officer' as it also serves the purpose of mental satisfaction of doing something worthy," said Datar. He also added that people who have lost their jobs amid the COVID pandemic can get themselves busy in this initiative.

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