Dubai: Twenty-four hours, seven days a week: The demands placed on a Dubai Police patrol team are not much different but there’s always one within sight should you need assistance.
For the first time, Dubai Police allowed a reporter to participate in what’s called in policing parlance ‘a ride-along’, allowing Gulf News to chronicle an average day in the life of police officers.
Gulf News got up close with officers from the Rashidiya police station. Colonel Yousuf Al Adeedi, Deputy Director of Al Rashidiya police station, said police patrols hardly ever stop — working shifts around the clock.
There are patrols that fan out in the morning and three groups that work different shifts. Each group is assigned a particular area to secure.
“We have in Al Rashidiya 15 areas to cover on main roads and services roads, in addition to traffic patrols. All of them come to work in the morning to receive instructions and their weapons,” Colonel Al Adeedi told Gulf News.
Police patrols are the first to rush to accidents or crime scenes or to respond to any emergency once they are alerted by the operation room. They have to arrest the accused to prevent criminals from fleeing the scene of crime, Colonel Al Adeedi says. The presence of police patrols on the roads itself helps to keep the crime rate in check, he said.
Patrols are expected to reach the spot once a call for assistance has been received within three to five minutes, depending on the nature of the incident.
In the past nine months, police patrols at Al Rashidiya have met their response-time goals 97.9 per cent of the time, Colonel Al Adeedi said.
9am: We’re informed that the police patrol is ready to head out. As we exit, Colonel Al Adeedi explains that the police car is computerised and linked with the operation room.
9.15am: The patrol responds to a call from a man who claims his vehicle has been hit by a car close to Emirates Aviation building. The accident scene is cleared in 10 minutes because it is a minor accident and does not need to be reported to the public prosecutor or police committee. The victim is taken to hospital for a medical check. When we reach the accident scene, the area has already been cleared.
9.30am: We are inside police patrol car No 626 accompanied by Colonel Al Adeedi and Captain Ahmad Saleh, head of duty shifts section, as we make our way to Umm Rammoul area and Festival City. Colonel Al Adeedi tells Gulf News that Al Rashidiya is a much larger neighbourhood now, covering 22,000 square metres. It is a residential area; so the majority of calls for assistance are domestic issues.
9.45am: The police radio in the car never ceases crackling, there are all kinds of dispatches from operation room. We hear of a traffic accident in Umm Rammoul area. The beacons atop the police car are switched on as we hurry to the scene.
9.50am: While en route, the operation room reports that a man called police but sounded disconsolate on the phone. An officer hears him out and makes out that the man had been beaten by his wife. One of the police patrols heading to the man’s house is recalled after a few minutes when the man called again to withdraw his complaint. Colonel Al Adeedi says all assault complaints are taken seriously by police; it may only be a private disagreement between husband and wife but it could escalate into crime.
10am: We reach the accident scene where we meet investigating police officers Omar Abdul Aziz and Khalid Khamis who are inspecting the accident scene and reporting it — a mini bus has collided with a pick-up truck. With the situation under control, we leave.
11am: Colonel Al Adeedi’s mobile phone has not stopped ringing all morning and he is called back to the operation room for a meeting. The officers take a quick lunch before heading out again on patrol.
12pm: After lunch, we head out in patrol car No 607 and it’s quickly apparent those in the back seat cannot get out. The back doors of the car cannot be opened unless released from the front. We are with Captain Saleh and accompanied by Captain Abdullah Khalifa Al Badawee.
12.03pm: Captain Al Badawee is informed by radio that Car No 616 is heading to the scene of a traffic accident and we have to follow them. Some pedestrians ask directions about the RTA building and, despite the hurry, clear directions are given before we proceed.
On our way, Captain Al Badawee spots a vehicle weaving from one lane into another, Captain Saleh opens the window and calls out to the motorist to drive straight.
12.15 pm: We arrive at the accident scene near Al Garhoud area on Morocco road where a Philippine man in his rented car has collided with a sports utility vehicle driven by an Emirati. Captain Al Badawee says that, even though there is no damage to either vehicle, the call was made to police because of the need for a mandatory police report when rental vehicles are involved in accidents.
12.30pm: While patrolling the roads, the officers are alerted about a robbery in a garage in Umm Rammoul area. On our way, Captain Al Badawee spots a man driving without his seat belt fastened. The man is told to fasten his seat belt while Captain Saleh issues a fine for the violation.
12.50pm: The police radio crackles with a report from the operation room of a brawl in International City and residents urging police to rush to the scene. A minute later, a follow-up radio report informs that the brawl is over and officers are told to stand down.
1pm: We reach the robbery scene and understand that spare parts have been removed from a Ford classic car. Criminal Investigations Department officers are already on scene as are fingerprints forensics experts, in addition to police patrols, duty officers and also the public prosecutor. The garage owner is asked why there are no CCTV cameras as per police instructions. Captain Al Badawee says this is very serious lapse that aids gang-related crime. We spend almost two hours at the robbery scene watching forensics teams collect every bit of evidence they can from the surroundings.
While we are at the robbery scene, a fight is reported at a petrol station between two men. One of the men sought to refuel his car before the other. The dispute is resolved when a woman calls police saying that she has accidentally locked her room leaving her computer switched on inside.
4.30pm: As the team returns to active patrolling, a woman in a nearby car opens her window and smiles and waves to officers who, in turn, smile back.
Policemen Omar Abdul Aziz and Khalid Khamis report back at the police station as they finish work for the day.
5.30pm: Back on the road for the night patrols with duty policeman Juma Sattar Juma, and we are dispatched to uptown Mirdif where a woman has parked her car in such a way that it blocks the road. When she spots police, she tries to leave but it’s too late. She is issued a fine for blocking traffic.
6pm: Juma points out many cases of bad driving on the roads where drivers have forgotten to turn on their car lights while driving and the like.
We are called to Mirdif police office following a car accident. Three women say they were in crash with a man who has no insurance. The man is fined.
7pm: On the road again. Yet another road acciddent is reported. At the scene in Al Warqa area, it is clear, it is a minor incident.
8.30pm: Back in Mirdif area. where a mini bus is being driven slowly without lights on. Juma signals for the bus to pull up and inspects it. A quick check reveals the driver is licensed. The driver is warned about lights but allowed to go.
9.15pm: On the way to Nad Al Hamr, we stop to help a group of young men standing on the highway after their car suffered a blowout. Juma stops traffic movement on the road to allow the car to be moved from the road and into a nearby parking area.
At the end of the day, Brigadier Saleh Al Rahoomi, director of Al Rashidiya police station, says his police patrols and their intensive checks in crowded areas are helping deter crime. He said that, in October, 295 suspects had been arrested in one particular area. Three of the suspects were found to be illegal residents, and 17 wanted in different cases.
“Crime rate declined 8 per cent this year from last year in our areas because of intensive inspection,” he said.
Al Rashidiya police station is one of the busiest police stations in Dubai, he said.