World #2 – Pakistan’s new roller-blade armed police response unit

Special Security Unit (SSU) police members rollerblade during practice along the seafront in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 19, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

(Compiled from UK Daily Mail and Reuters) – Police in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, are deploying a rollerblading unit armed with Glock pistols to curb theft and harassment on its teeming streets. …

“We felt we needed to come up with an innovative approach to control street crime,” said Farrukh Ali, chief of the unit, explaining that officers on rollerblades could more easily chase thieves on motorcycles through the city of 20 million.

Ali conceded that rollerblading police could not be deployed across many parts of Karachi due to the poor road conditions and uneven footpaths, but said they would be sent to public places with a higher incidence of theft and harassment.

“This is just the beginning,” said Aneela Aslam, a policewoman on the unit. “This rollerblading will really benefit us. With this training, we can reach narrow alleys very quickly where it is usually difficult to go.”

After a month of intensive rollerblade training, the squad will be deployed around the city’s narrow streets, busy intersections and in shopping centers.

Ali told local television networks that he was hopeful the force will help reduce street crime. ‘Foot patrolling is an extremely tedious job. Roller skates will give an edge to chase and apprehend [suspects],’ he said.

Chief Farrukh himself was shown in footage confidently skating down a flight of stairs and pirouetting while wielding an assault rifle.

Police spokesman Raja Memon hailed the unit, saying “the force has been set up to control street crime and it will be a weapon-wielding force moving fast on skates.”

Safety concerns were raised when initial footage of the Karachi unit’s training showed officers carrying heavier weapons, but Ali said the unit would only carry handguns, reducing the risk of bullets ricocheting. …

The rollerblading police – who follow in the footsteps of similar units in Europe and elsewhere – are expected to begin officially next month, but they were recently spotted outside the venue of the Pakistan Super League cricket tournament.

And they have already begun patrolling Karachi’s bustling beachfront.

“Seeing them here in clean uniforms since the morning gives us a sense of security, as even in daytime, snatchings occur here,” said pedestrian Muhammad Azeem.

News of the new rollerblading unit was met with some amusement and derision of social media, however, with some joking that criminals would be able to escape the officers by simply finding a flight of stairs to escape up.

But police on skates have proven to be a success in other cities in the world.

In Paris, a team of eight roller-cops have been patrolling the streets for almost 20 years, often posing for selfies with tourists and present a friendly face of the French capital’s policing. They also carry truncheons [billy clubs; batons] and pistols.

London also dabbled with rollerblading police officers in parks, but Scotland Yard put an end to the scheme when people were able to escape by running on the grass. …

Published at UK Daily Mail by Chris Jewers with Reuters on Feb. 24. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.


NOTE: Before answering the following questions, read the info under “Background” and watch the video under “Resources” below.

1. List the who, what, where and when of the news item.

2. What is the purpose of the rollerblading police unit?

3. For what reasons will the rollerblading unit be deployed in only certain parts of Karachi?

4. What assurance did Chief Ali offer to those concerned over the officers carrying heavier weapons?

5. Do you foresee any problems with a rollerblading police unit other than the terrain?

6. What do you think of this innovative approach to policing in high-crime areas of crowded cities? Explain your answer.


From the article above:

Karachi is notorious for its violent crime, and has been blighted by terrorist and separatist groups, as well as political division and organized crime gangs.

Military-backed efforts to flush out the violent groups has improved the situation in recent years, but street crime is still rife.

According to the World Crime Index that surveys the rate of criminal activities in 396 cities around the world, Karachi was tenth on the list, but by 2020 it had risen to position 103.

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