LAHORE  - The Punjab police department has decided to recruit at least 5,000 cops for the dolphin police unit to control street crimes on the pattern of Turkish police.

A summary had already been sent to the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for approval and budget allocations for the establishment of dolphin unit, most probably to be made operational by the end October 2015.

It was learnt that the Dolphin police unit, in Lahore, will comprise 600 bikes of 500CC.

Police sources say the concept to create the new patrolling force equipped with heavy bikes and modern gadgetry is being materialized to downgrade the rising street crimes in provincial capital.

Lahore DIG (operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, who recently came back from Turkey after two weeks-long study tour, has been assigned the task to create this special force and make the initiative a success story. Earlier, DIG Haider Ashraf had chaired several meetings and sought recommendations from the field officers.

The department has completed all the necessary work to ensure successful and result-oriented launching of the new concept as per international standards.

While talking to The Nation, DIG Haider Ashraf said that the special patrolling wing of the Lahore police would be equipped with 500CC motorbikes and other latest communication technology to chase criminals. The objectives of this force are to reduce crimes, improve police image, and eliminate Thana culture besides creating a sense of security among citizens.

The DIG Operations also informed that the Dolphin police units are working in more than 61 districts of Turkey, where their prime responsibility is to immediately respond to road accidents because of very low crime rate there. Such units are also very effective as far as snap-checking and street patrolling is concerned. “We are working to make this initiative a success story and we are also confident that this dream would be materialised within months in Lahore,” he added.

All patrol units will be observed by the Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, field commanders’ posting will be based on crime and crowd concentration and activities of patrol units will be controlled on a daily basis. The patrol units will be deployed on the basis of crime hotspots and daily and seasonal population movements. A team of the Dolphin Unit would consist of four police officials. The squad will be responsible for maintaining peace in their beats.

Earlier, the government had plans to launch this state-of-the-art patrolling project in the provincial metropolis by December 2014 but budget constraints and poor planning delayed its launching. “Now the authorities are planning to launch this initiative on August 14. But I think it could be delayed further since the training of cops is yet to be started,” a senior government official said.

Last year, the Punjab CM had announced that a Dolphin Unit would be launched in the Punjab police on the pattern of Dolphin Unit in Turkey to check street crimes. Motorcycle Units or Dolphins are well-known police units in Turkey, where police officers are required to present their identity papers before approaching citizens.

In the first phase, the scheme will be launched in Lahore as a pilot project and later it would be extended to other big cities of the province.

Some field officers say the Lahore police are introducing yet another mechanism on the pattern of the Istanbul police’s Dolphin model to counter persistent street crimes after various patrolling models failed to come up to the expectations of the citizens and the governments during the last couple of decades.

The new patrolling plan, which is expected to cost the provincial exchequer in millions or up to a billion rupees in terms of training and logistics, will not only help police hunt down criminals but also ensure quick response in case of any untoward happening.

The provincial government had decided to launch the Dolphin model after the Mohafiz Force patrolling system (launched in 2007) came to an embarrassing end because of multiple factors – ranging from corruption to misuse of powers by policemen.

The motorcycles-led Mohafiz Force and a fleet of patrolling cars which operated under the command of the SP (Mujahid & Mobiles) had been wiped out after numerous public complaints. The Dolphins will also work along with the police emergency service (Rescue-15) to ensure quick response after a crime incident takes place.

Some police officers were of the view that new mechanism with huge investment of resources will definitely bring the crime rate down provided the authorities would not shift it to the protocol duties. Unfortunately in this past, they said, any specialized force raised by the police authorities in certain period of times was utilized for duties like protocol and other general policing assignments.

“This will never happen again. The Dolphins will patrol streets only to protect the lives and properties of the people,” DIG Haider Ashraf said confidently.

As per the plan, the Dolphin Unit would be connected to the integrated command, control and communication centre in Lahore. The government is also planning to install modern equipment at the centre with 1800 plus CCTV cameras. The command and control centre would also be completed by the end of this year, sources added.

The police department last year had submitted the PC-I of Dolphin Force to the Planning and Development (P&D) department with an estimated budget of Rs393.58m for the project, said to be first-ever expensive police patrol model for the provincial capital. However, according to officials, the cost may increase because the Turkish police experts want purchase of 500CC bikes instead of 250CC proposed by the provincial government. According to the roadmap of the project, being supervised by Turkish police officers, the procurement of equipment is about to complete, institutional arrangements are in process and the project’s implementation will start from October.

The equipment being raised are 600 motorcycles besides mini buses for field support, 1200 helmets, 600 camera-body cams, 200 GPS locators and 300 wireless radios.

A special uniform will be designed for dolphin patrol officials. Two cops who will patrol roads on a bike will be equipped with helmets with wireless radio, police siren, lights, small arm, handcuffs, GPS tracking device, camera and special uniform.

Haider Ashraf says Lahore police intends to launch the modernised patrol units in October with an approach to show round-the-clock presence on roads, prevent everyday crimes, act as first-responders, gather intelligence and extend emergency help to citizens.

The Dolphin Concept Policing, using motorcycles, was introduced in 1993 in Istanbul and it is fast, effective, and cost-efficient as compared to foot and car patrols besides it can access narrow streets and move in heavy traffic.