Coronavirus Pune: SPOs emerged as “support” for Police Force in containment zones

ST Staff
Saturday, 6 June 2020

SPOs have helped take the extra load off the Police Force, and have contributed in fighting the virus in several containment zones

Pune: Beginning from the precautions that should be taken while using public toilets, basics on how to maintain hygiene and how to use masks and sanitisers, Special Police Officers have been assigned several duties amidst containment zones. Apart from these, people have also been advised to guide expectant mothers and senior citizens to stay indoors and reporting to a hospital immediately if found to be COVID-19 positive. Special Police Officers have taken upon a task to keep a record of new cases and being alert during this time of a pandemic. 

For the past two months, Special Police Officers (SPO) like Gautam Savane, have been putting their lives on stake by working tirelessly for the public. Auto-rickshaw driver Savane, and social worker Sujeet Yadav, were accompanied by around 6,000 SPO corona-warriors who come with a background in various fields, such as engineering and law. Without an expectation of reward, these corona-warriors today work relentlessly within the city's containment areas. 

After the first COVID-19 case found in Maharashtra, the workload on the city's police force also intensified. As the current posse of policemen is significantly lower than the city's population, there were several limitations to carry out contact-tracing activities. Due to this, Police Commissioner Dr K. Venkatesham offered the post of “Special Police Officers” to people with some, terms and conditions, and appealed to them for help. Accordingly, around 5,800 people were appointed as SPOs in various COVID-19 affected parts of the city. 

Whether it was the unemployed, or the auto-rickshaw drivers, social workers, or engineers -- the residents of Pune joined hands and rushed to the aid of their city.

The first experiment of deploying SPOs was conducted at the worst-hit area of the Tadiwala road slum. “SPOs have done and are doing magnificent work daily. Because of close relations and trust, they are getting sufficient help from locals. People are responding positively to their appeals, therefore Police force is relieved in some manner”, told Additional Commissioner of Police, Dr Sanjay Shinde.

Dr Shinde also said, “SPOs have done important work, beginning from contact tracing to maintaining hygiene in public toilets, supporting old age people and taking care of them. Apart from simply providing support, the have relieved the police force from a load of their extra duties. They have given a remarkable contribution.”

Duties carried out by SPOs:

• Spreading awareness about Corona in societies, colonies and             
other residential places
• Guiding people about social distancing and use of masks and sanitizers
• Taking care of the health of children, senior citizens and expectant mothers
• Keeping an eye on home-quarantined and the COVID-19 positive patients
• Keeping Police, Municipal Corporation and Health care department alert about the happenings
• Providing home delivery of vegetables, ration and medicines

Duties carried out by the higher-educated SPOs:

• Conducting contact tracing by using available technology
• Updating records of travel of migrant workers on the website
• Providing facilities for food, transport and accommodation to migrant workers
• Updating information of 25,000 workers on the website     
Advantages of SPOs to police force:

• Help in finding COVID-19 infected and symptomatic patients
• Aiding to restart the human life cycle again
• Locals, who generally respected SPOs instructions
• Help in controlling contagion

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