A group of police officers in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi carefully balance on rollerblades at a training center, and then leap over a set of stairs.

It's all part of rigorous training for a new armed rollerblading unit, which has been taking place for over a month, with the aim of curbing theft and harassment on the city's streets.

Gliding in a circle with their weapons pointed inwards, the 20-member unit made up of 10 men and 10 women lift and lower their unloaded guns in unison.

"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, an officer with 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." 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.

Ali added that there will be some locations, such as shopping malls, where the officers will not be armed.

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 also begun practicing patrolling Karachi's bustling beachfront.

"They (criminals) come riding bikes, snatch cellphones or purses from passers-by and run away.

Seeing them (cops) training here gives us a good feeling.

It gives a sense of security to us," said pedestrian Muhammad Azeem.

(Source: Reuters)

Original Article Source: Press TV | Published on Tuesday, 23 February 2021 10:10 (about 11 days ago)