LAHORE - Lahore police have launched a new fleet of patrol cars to help curb crime in the provincial capital.

More than 200 high-spec customized Toyota Corolla cars, equipped with cameras, megaphones, search lights, and first-aid kits, rolled out on Thursday.

A senior officer said these Police Response Units have been deployed at several crime hot-spots and areas of concerns all over the city to ensure a quick reaction to any incident on the streets.

The launch reflects more investment in the police department and its determination to control street crimes in Lahore.

“At least 110 latest model Corolla cars are on patrol on the leading roads across Lahore since yesterday,” Operations chief DIG Haider Ashraf told The Nation on Friday.

Last month, the police got another 100 latest model vehicles for street patrolling.

The DIG sought to reassure the public that the new cars would not be misused or deployed for politicians and the elite. “These cars will never be attached with the VIP convoys for protocol. These are exclusively for patrolling.”

The Lahore City police have been divided into some 287 beats, Haider said, and each one will have an assigned patrol car, beat officer, driver, and two gunmen. All the patrolling officers have been given special training in crime-fighting prior to their deployment.

Ashraf said the department would also create a ‘Dolphin’ motorcycle unit that will allow hundreds of police officers to patrol narrow streets and lanes.

In May, Punjab’s Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera had said that his department would be able to respond to incidents in Lahore within 10 minutes if the “unfit vans” were replaced with new vehicles.

“These vehicles can enable my cops to respond to Rescue-15 calls within less than 10 minutes - ideal response time,” he said.

The Punjab government has increased spending on law and order with the police budget allocation alone rising by an unprecedented Rs13 billion for the fiscal year 2015-16.

In the current fiscal year, the government allocated the police Rs94 billion. Police officers say a major chunk of the allocation meets the departmental expenditure including salaries.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Amin Wains welcomed the introduction of the latest model cars and hoped the initiative will help ensure officers have more time and greater visibility in their communities. “This will enable cops to carry out their roles more effectively,” he said.

The move follows a similar scheme launched by the Lahore operations police, which have seen appointment of admin officers in each police station to help and guide the complainants and visitors.

The Lahore police’s initiative to equip at least 500 officers with Android smartphone devices a few months ago was described as one of the “biggest technological advancements in modern policing.”