With the number of cases of police and paramilitary personnel getting exposed to COVID-19 going up everyday, the Home Ministry has asked all states to not let random police personnel go to work but form "groups" and allow the same set of group to work on each duty so that intermixing of personnel is limited and the spread of the pandemic can be controlled.
The ministry also asked the state chiefs to explore option of work-from-home for some personnel, mostly in administrative duties.
"While it is likely that a majority of police personnel are deployed for attending to COVID-19 related duties and other policing duties, the head of police Force may consider the option of work from home for personnel not deployed on frontline and where feasible," the letter said.
In Tamil Nadu, the DGP recently issued instructions that at least 25 per cent of the 1.25 lakh police force could stay at home in order to keep a healthy reserve force in standby to meet exigencies.
Even in Maharashtra, police personnel above 55 have been asked to work from home.
"Police personnel are frontline warriors. They have to follow protocol while dealing with public, so we have sent out a detailed guidelines along with annexure relating to public management," a senior officer in the Home Ministry said.
According to him, the idea is to inform them to maintain sanctity of groups and not expose everyone.
"Police need to prepare an effective and second line of defence to make up for the personnel who may be rendered ineffective due to virus infection. Home Guards, Civil Defence, NCC cadets, Scouts and Guides and student police cadets can be used in areas where there are no imminent law and order issues," the letter said, adding they can help in maintaining order at relief centres and in maintenance of supply chain.
According to letter, even though a lot of awareness has been generated about COVID-19 through campaigns by the government, many are falling prey to the virus. The letter sent by the internal security division of the Home Ministry has a 16-page annexe attached to it, which provides interim guidance about environmental cleaning and decontamination of common places including police offices.
"Close proximity in dwelling units like barracks/police quarters further increases the risk of transmission leading to infection amplification. So more attention needs to be given to these areas," a senior officer said.
Since most of forces have common toilet areas, the document has dos and don'ts about how to disinfect them regularly.
While on duty, police personnel should help the public and deal with them with empathy, especially weaker sections of society, the Home Ministry said. The police should also be "watchful of migrant labourers and slums to contain any unexpected and undesirable mass movement", it said.