The Mumbai Police Force, a History That Dates Back to 350 Years
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The Mumbai Police Force, a History That Dates Back to 350 Years

The Mumbai Police force has completed 350 years of its existence and is one of the oldest police force in the world.

The Mumbai Police Force has completed 350 years of its existence. The residents of Mumbai have been protected by an organized force right from 1661. This was the period when Mumbai (earlier called Bombay) was a Portuguese colony. At that time the Mumbai Police Force was called the Bhandari Militia. The system of modern policing in Mumbai began when the Portuguese set up the first police outpost in 1661. The same year it was gifted by the Portuguese as part of dowry to the British when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza.

In 1669 the islands of Mumbai were leased to the East India Company by the crown at a nominal rent of 10 British pounds, payable every September 30th. In the same year Gerald Aungier became the Governor of Mumbai. He is considered as the founder of the Mumbai Police Force. He organized the Bhandari Militia’s with Subhedars who were headquartered at Mahim, Sewree and Sion. The first police station came up in Byculla in 1673.

This state of affair continued till 1769 when formalized Police training was introduced. The first Police Commissioner James Todd was appointed in 1769 and the present Police Commissioners trace their lineage to that period.

The first Police Act when a European constable was appointed as the main officer occurred on 20 May 1812. Three years later (1815) the formulation of regulations for Traffic Control of handcarts was passed. The Mumbai Police force took shape and in 1896 the Police Headquarters’ was shifted to its present magnificent location at Crawford Market, close to Dhobi Talao. The building built in the Anglo-Gothic style of Architecture continues as the Police Headquarters till today.

The Mumbai police was a European preserve till 1864, when the first Indian Police officer Khan Bahadur Shaikh was appointed. But it was not till 1947 that an Indian was appointed as the Police Commissioner. The last British Police commissioner was AE Caffin who relinquished charge to JS Barucha on 15 August 1947. The first woman constable to join the Mumbai Police force was Mrs Penchant Bala in 1942 and the first woman sub-inspector Ms Shanti Parwani was inducted into the force in 1947.

With the city expanding and growth in crime the detective (CID) branch was set up in 1944. The computerization of the force commenced in 1976, with the first introduction of computers. In 1995 the Police control room was computerized.

With drug traffic going up a need for a special narcotic squad was felt and it became operational in 1989. The same year on 1st July the Special operations Squad to combat terrorism was established. The Mumbai police has a checkered history of 350 years and is one of the oldest police force in the world. The force has evolved a lot since 1669 and has redefined its role with the growing city population and changing skyline.

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