City of Athens to introduce neighborhood policemen

The City of Athens is to begin a pilot scheme that will introduce neighborhood policemen into several downtown districts in a bid to foster greater trust between residents and the municipal force.

According to plans unveiled on Tuesday, municipal policemen will begin regular patrols in seven areas in and around the city center, some of which have experienced substantial rises in crime over the last few years. The City of Athens says it may expand the scheme next year.

The policemen will be asked to come into direct contact with residents and shop owners. They will be asked to take part in community meetings and will be responsible for informing municipal authorities about any problems with services and public areas, such as broken street lights or damaged sidewalks.

The move comes at a time when citizens? complaints about the regular police have skyrocketed. The force?s internal affairs department told a parliamentary committee yesterday that last year there were 758 complaints about police behavior compared to 594 in 2009.