mid-day 37th anniversary: How the fuzz gets the buzz

The recent digitisation of the Police Notice, a daily news bulletin for the cops, is in keeping with the times and crimes

For over a century, city policemen have been getting a copy of a meticulously put together police bulletin every morning. Last month, the police department decided to make the in-house news bulletin ‘Police Notice’ online. Days before that, mid-day dived behind the scenes to capture glimpses of the men who meticulously put together the paper, which varies from 40 pages to 100 pages, in four hours flat.

Police Inspector S Dagadkhair, editor, checks content before printing. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Police Inspector S Dagadkhair, editor, checks content before printing. Pics/Bipin Kokate

The day-to-day responsibility of producing the paper lies with Police Inspector Subhash Dagadkhair, who reports to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Head Quarter - 1) Pradip Sawant, who is the supervisor and content head. The press is at Lohar Chawl near Crawford Market. The Government Press in Charni Road prints the cover page.

The editorial team works to bring out the last manual edition on May 31. From June 1, the bulletin went digital
The editorial team works to bring out the last manual edition on May 31. From June 1, the bulletin went digital

The front page carries the police logo, date and serial number. The inside has the police mission statement in Marathi and English. The bulletin usually has special messages from the Commissioner, missing persons details printed police station-wise, proclaimed offenders details, and details on missing vehicles, etc. It also carries details of Law and Order issues, bandoboast duty, court cases, station duties, etc.

Commissioner of Police (CP) D Padsalgikar leafing through the day’s The Police Notice in his office. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Commissioner of Police (CP) D Padsalgikar leafing through the day’s The Police Notice in his office. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

There is also administration related issues — transfers, promotions, leaves, rewards, night rounds, like every other paper, including sports updates of various police teams.

“Interestingly, just like how the police sometimes use newspaper cuttings in court as evidence, orders or remarks by superior officer against a junior member can be used against the said officer in case disputes that go to the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal,” said Dagadkhair.

As many as 25 policemen attached to the armed police force with basic knowledge of computers, typing English and Marathi, work on the paper. This team has policemen who are due for retirement within three to four years at one end of the spectrum and fresh recruits at the other.

Dagadkhair said that every evening, the department receives content on pen drives from across sections of the police department, including the Commissioner’s orders and special instructions. The deadline for completing this task is midnight and thereafter printing begins page by page. The task is completed by 2 am. Then it’s manually assembled into 300 sets.

Coming together
The cover pages of the Police Notice are usually on yellow paper. The paper is printed six days a week, and even occasionally on Sundays.

“We use ‘Kruti Dev 50 Marathi font’ and for English content, it’s ‘Bookman Old Style’ in 16 points,” said Dagadkhair.

Once the paper is printed, four police jeeps leave Lohar Chawl and deliver the stack to stations by 5 am. This department also is the center point for collecting all inter-office letters (for instance, if an officer of a particular police station wants to send an inter-office memo or letter to another police station or to the office of his superior, Dagadkhair is the man to catch). Such letters are sent with the morning bulletin.

“Till date, not a single letter has been misplaced or sent to the wrong recipient,” said Dagadkhair proudly.

Going digital
With the print edition being discontinued, a new system is in place. Officers of the rank of senior inspector and above have a special user ID and password for access. All 12 zones have been given a computer-trained police constable who has been assigned the task to train the policemen at police station level on easy usage of the software. Ten terabyte servers are procured to store the mammoth data that the police needs access to. Assistant Police Inspector Pramod Sawant and his team from the Computer Cell provide software and hardware support, while content remains Dagadkhair’s responsibility.

Soon, Police Notice will also be emailed in PDF format to all officials whose email IDs are stored in the official data base.

Commissioner Padsalgikar said, “This is yet another small step towards paperless working. Soon after the success of the online Police Notice, we also have plans to set up a digital kiosk at all police stations so that the intranet facility will at the finger tips, accessed by each and every policeman easily. Police Notice was a further step in the direction of increased efficiency of the police force.”

History of the Police Notice
The publication was the brainchild of SM Edwardes (1909-1916), the then Commissioner of Bombay Police. What came to be termed the daily Police Gazette began publication from May 22, 1911, appearing three times in the 24 hours and containing full details of all reported crimes, persons wanted, property stolen or lost, etc.

Under this system, the duty of the sectional officer consisted simply of telephoning full details to the Deputy Commissioner CID, who arranged for their insertion in the next issue of the ‘Gazette’, copies of which were delivered at every police station within a few hours of the occurrence.

Editor and magician
Dagadkhair, 54, who started his police journey as a constable, has been helming the Police Notice for the last six years, but even with his busy schedule, he takes time out for his passion —practicing and performing magical tricks.

“I hail from Hanuman Takli village, Ahmednagar, and after my graduation in arts, I joined the police force in 1982. But I was fond of magic since I was little. As I grew up, I started learning magic. I was fortunate to get some basic tips from expert magicians like PC Sarkar, K Lal, etc.” He also teaches magic tricks to policemen’s kids for free.

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