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Lack of SOP for frontline cops putting them at corona risk
Sanjoy Kr Hazarika
 DERGAON, Oct 7 - At a time when the whole world is reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of an adequate standard operating procedure (SOP) has put the frontline police personnel at a great risk.

 According to Covid-19 protocol, all the professionals of different fields of the government sector are under strict instructions to avoid contact with a second person in any case. For example, doctors are to get covid-19 certificate before entering their chambers in any case and they have every scope to maintain social distance. Again, the teachers are safe from the contact with their students due to regular checking for covid-19 by the students as well as staff before entering the school campus. The civil officials can also maintain a safe distance by adhering to social distancing in their work places.

But what about the police personnel, specially the frontline staff ? In case of apprehending any accused, they have to go near the unknown person without any second thoughts. The physical closeness is obvious in the first step and then the accused is normally taken to the police station (PS) where again close proximity for interrogation cannot be avoided.

During the normal process of interrogation the accused or apprehended person is in a police station for about 13-14 hours in close contact of the police officials. In such cases, the frontline police personnel starting from the constable to the superintendent of police are at high risk as they have to deal with unknown persons in close contact.

Now the question arises that if such an apprehended person is unknowingly Covid-19 positive, then there is every possibility for a spike in the virus among the police personnel in the police station compound.

The protocol speaks of testing for Covid-19 of the accused just before sending her/him to the Court. Again, the court is always safe as the accused is produced before the court after he/she tests negative.

On being contacted, the Superintendent of Police Golaghat Pushpraj Singh said that there is a procedure to test the accused for Covid-19 before being produced at the Court. “Before being produced in Court for judicial remand, the RAT of the accused is a must,” the SP added.

However, in case of apprehension of an accused no such procedure can be followed which is a serious concern among the police personnel engaged in law and order duty. Similarly, in case of the training of police personnel there is a fixed procedure for maintaining social distance, wearing masks etc.

“The frontline police staff are always at a great risk. So, an adequate SOP is a must in the interest of the frontline staff, specially those engaged in law and order duty”, a police official said.

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