An exclusive interview of Mr. Alok Mittal, IG Police - Rohtak Range

Alok Mittal is IG Police Rohtak range. This top cop could easily be mistaken for a corporate head honcho.This top cop could easily be mistaken for a corporate head honcho. His polite and gentle demeanor confuses you a bit as we have come not to expect that of our cops. It certainly belies the onerous responsibility that has been placed on him as custodian of law and order of one of the most populous areas of Haryana comprising the districts of Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat and Panipat.

Here he is in conversation with our CEO Poonam Bharadwaj on his role, its needs and challenges and management aspects that often get overlooked.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your childhood, your journey to the office of IG Police, who is Alok Mittal?

I’m originally from Allahabad but I grew up and did my schooling across UP as my father was in the UP Government service and his job was transferable. I did Mechanical Engineering from IIT Roorkee. After graduating in 1990 from IIT, my first job was with Tata Motors in Jamshedpur. I worked there for over one year and then went on to work at ONGC in Gujarat for over 2 years. In 1993, I passed the Civil Services exam and was selected in the IPS.

What made you decide to be a cop? Was it always your first preference or did you ever want to become something else?

Coming from a middle class background, education was always a big part of my upbringing. I always knew that I wanted to be in the Civil Services. The fact that I got a good ranking and was selected for the IPS was part of my overall career plan. So, yes, you could say that the top three or four services were always on my radar.

When you got your first assignment, what was the most memorable feeling that you experienced?

Like everyone else, I also had a stereotype in mind for the police. But when you become an insider you realize so many things. The IPS is very different from other civil services. Being a uniformed service, it carries a different meaning both for civil society as well as for us cops. No one in my family had gone to either the defense services or police services before me, so to that extent there was an element of excitement. When you join the IPS, you undergo 2 years of rigorous and elaborate training during which, as part of field training, I was posted as ASP UT in Faridabad for six months, where I also served as an SHO of a rural police station. The most amazing feeling was that I was in a position to provide immediate relief to people who came to us with so many problems. The satisfaction of serving people in real time and being able to provide help and relief to them was a great feeling.

How many people report to you?

Well, as IG of Rohtak range, there are 4 districts that comprise my jurisdiction, namely, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Panipat and Sonepat. Each of these districts is headed by a Superintendent of Police who reports to me and in turn has a large number of personnel reporting to him. In all, the total strength of my force is 6800 personnel.

6800 is a lot of people! With so many people, this department could actually be an organization – a company. What’s the biggest challenge in managing your department?

Like I said earlier, policing is unlike any other service or engagement. You have your team of fellow personnel but your audience or end user customer is every household of each of the 4 districts that falls under your jurisdiction. So the canvas is very large to begin with. We are faced with extraordinary situations daily and are expected to deliver successfully and immediately. In the last few years, our aim has been to move towards a task oriented work culture. We have to admit that in India we have one of the lowest police-public ratios in the world. Also, the increase in manpower is never nearly commensurate with increase in factors contributing to law and order problems. Given all this, I would say the biggest and continuous challenges we have today are how to institutionalize this task orientation and how to monitor and measure performance of our personnel. We have achieved some success in this area. We are also doing whatever we can to leverage technology as a partner in core policing functions.

How strong is the management and leadership pipeline within your organization? Not just in terms of top cops but the middle that often makes or breaks a company?

See, recruitment takes place at 3 or 4 levels. Almost 80 % to 85 % of the force comprises Constables and Head Constables. Then comes the Non Gazetted Personnel namely the ASI’s and the SI’s. The next group is the supervisory role holders or the DSP’s and on top are the IPS officers. A lot of our urban youth do not want to join the police at the Constable / Head Constable level, so most of the recruitment is done from rural or semi rural areas. It takes a while to get this group in synch with the changing paradigms of the job. However, the next two groups provide us with great candidates who can take up leadership roles in the future. In fact, the supervisory level can become IPS after spending 10 to 12 years in the job. Then of course you have the IPS officers, who are brought into the force primarily for providing leadership. So really, the challenge lies in creating this great resource pool and then training them continuously to rise to the challenge of their jobs as future leaders. Not only do we need to provide technical training on an ongoing basis but also train them on softer skills so that they can interact better with public.

How would you describe your personal style of management? Are you more hands on or off?

My natural style is more hands on. I really do prefer to lead from the front. I like to have channels of communication open with my staff. I visit the field to interact with my people and also people in the public. I put great emphasis on keep myself on top of the goings on of my department.

What qualities and traits do you look for in your team leaders and which amongst these would you consider most critical for success as a police person?

You see every organization wants the best people. It is desirable to have self starters, people who are motivated and ambitious for themselves and their organization. While all the things that the business world desires from its employees are also desirable in a police person, in my mind two things stand out. One is the courage to say no to that which is wrong and not to capitulate and the other is the patience and cool headedness. A police officer needs to maintain critical thinking ability in times of duress. He or she cannot falter with anger or emotional outburst as they are bound to send a wrong signal to the public and also de-motivate staff. They should have the courage of conviction and integrity to stand up for what is right no matter what the provocation to do otherwise.

How important is assimilation of international best practices in your own organization? What sort of work does Haryana police do to bring its own role holders up to speed with the best in the world both in terms of technology and SOP’s?

As I mentioned earlier, we go through very exhaustive training at the start of our career. Along the way however, there is need felt for mid career training initiatives that are of great benefit. In the last 2 years, the Ministry of Home Affairs has started initiatives in this area so that cross pollination of best practices can happen. I myself underwent an 8 week training program from Cambridge University where best practices in policing from the US, UK and Australia were shared and learnt. More such initiatives need to be taken. There is no substitute to learning and constantly honing your skills to match the best in the business.

Do you feel enough is being done in terms of training in softer skills in police training?

We need to do a lot more. Public police interaction is so critical not just in maintenance of law and order but also in managing expectations and dealing with perceptions from both sides. I feel just like the technical training that we do for better policing results, soft skill training must also be done on an ongoing basis to so that our personnel can deal better with public. We need to break barriers between the police and the public and soft skill training is very helpful.

In ending, any advice for young people who wish to join the police?

Some people may wish to differ with me but being a police officer is an immensely satisfying job. The ability to make an impact on people’s lives when they are in trouble or vulnerable, brings a deep sense of satisfaction and happiness. I encourage young people to consider joining the Police. Wearing the uniform carries a great responsibility and an even greater sense of achievement.

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