Not so long back Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif established a new police force to combat the escalating rate of felonies in Lahore with a hope to strike fear into the hearts of hardened criminals. Dolphin Force Lahore – an elite security unit – is out patrolling the streets of Lahore.
Mr.Sharif after being greatly impressed by the law enforcement unit in Turkey came up with this peculiar name and idea to establish a state-of-the-art police force, leading to its emulation at home. But while Sharif pushes to expand this pet project, top police officials eye the new unit with some disdain, as they believe it will meet an embarrassing end like its predecessors.
Nearly one billion rupees of investment, and exorbitant running cost have put a question mark on the worthiness of this shiny exterior project – Dolphin Force, despite early reports of success the hydra-headed new branch of Lahore’s police force had little chances to gain success.
Another Poor performing white elephant
This nascent elite force struck by ill planning and lack of resources soon after its very launch, nearly 700 officers on patrol had only been given one uniform each, with eight hour shifts its hard to keep the uniform worth-wearing for next shift.
Further, the Rs. 50,000 each uniform made of parachute material, inspired by its Turkish counterpart was not suited for hot and humid soaring temperatures of Lahore’s summer, many officers were reported to have faint on duty. To address this issue new cotton uniforms were ordered resulting in hike in operating cost of the project.
Choice of Honda 500CC two wheeler was an extravagant decision. Costing Rs.1 Million each, 35 were procured initially with a plan to increase this number to 300, the decision of acquiring such heavy vehicles when there is no local maintenance available for such machinery was preposterous, in case of any serious damage, the vehicle ends up parking in the garage indefinitely
Bluetooth attached hi-tech helmets were acquired to be worn by the officers on duty, bought at Rs. 35,000/= each it was a mere waste of money, there were plans to have a recording camera in the uniforms so the public interactions can be recorded, but due to increased cost and less operational efficiency this was not put into place.
A whopping Rs. 50m was spent on training the master trainers expecting them to learn, come back and train the entire force — 25 police officers from Lahore who were flown to Turkey to be trained by their Turkish counterparts. Furthermore, for the monthly salary of only Rs. 22,000 — the same as a regular police constable — the trainers have to do their regular patrol jobs as well as train new Dolphin Force recruits. Trainers complained that the salary is “simply not enough”.
Before the introduction of Dolphin Force, Lahore used to have special patrolling units along with another specialized force called Muhafiz force which still exists. The shady decision to put another elite force has received mixed response from the public and existing police fraternity.
Its also worth noting that already weakened, short on resources and under provisioned policing infrastructure needs more attention then introduction of new forces in place, there is a desperate need to realize the fact that upgrading the existing infrastructure will bear more fruits compared to invest heavily in new and expensive ventures.
It is not very clear whether Lahore actually needs the DF or not, as the crime stats are only showing improvement in some areas. It is just a matter of time before the force and its expensive equipment runs out of funds to function in the manner envisaged by the chief minister..For now, there is little optimism regarding Dolphin Force’s success within local police circles