A total of 900 municipal police officers and 250 management employees are due to be recruited immediately after Easter in order to boost staff numbers at police stations, especially in the «Olympic municipalities» (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos and Iraklion). This was confirmed by Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis following a meeting with the country’s 13 regional directors earlier this week. The training of the new police staff is scheduled to start soon after their recruitment, with the 900 officers to be trained at two centers in northern Greece – one in Tsotyli, near Kozani, and the other in Konitsa, near Ioannina. The appointments will be announced by regional authorities by the end of this month, the ministry said. The six-month practical training course for the trainee officers will be conducted under the Public Order Ministry, while lessons in theory are the responsibility of the Interior Ministry. Management trainees will undergo a two-month training program. Two more six-month training courses are scheduled for 2004 when another 1,800 police staff are due to be recruited. The aim is for the municipal police force to have a presence in all the country’s municipalities over the next five years. The Athens municipality wants 700 police staff, who must be recruited gradually due to restrictions in training facilities, while other municipalities are asking for an average of 5-10 extra police officers each. The ministry said applications for extra staff would be approved only in cases in which municipal authorities could demonstrate a real need for more police officers in their area.