NEWS

‘Our main priority is security for Olympic Games next year’

For the past two years the Greek police have been preparing intensively for security at the Olympic Games. Nasiakos is optimistic about the way things are going. A year from now, Greece will be hosting the Olympics. One of the main issues is that of security. Have we convinced people of our ability to ensure a secure environment? The Games is the world’s leading sporting and cultural event where we will be host to 17,000 athletes and official escorts, 8,000 members of the Olympic family, 3,000 judges and referees, 20,000 journalists and 2 million visitors. Over 5 billion people will be watching the Games on television. An event of that size is likely to attract the attention of international terrorists. That is what we have to prevent and that is what we are planning for. The State assigned responsibility for security to the Public Order Ministry and in particular the Greek police. In order to successfully meet this challenge, we are working according to a specific plan. To give you an idea, in 2001 we set up a special service at Greek police headquarters, the Olympic Games Security Department (DAOA), with responsibility for recruitment and coordination between related agencies. It is staffed by capable and experienced people. At the same time we drew up an ambitious program of Olympic training which has largely been completed. It includes general training for 58,000 people, 80 specialized training programs for 6,500 people at centers in Greece and abroad, and practical training for about 26,000 people at the Olympic installations. 1 billion invested A secure system for handling information and evaluating threats is being developed, based on training, the use of modern technology and international cooperation, all centered on the DAOA’s Olympic Information Center. We have invested a billion euros in all this, of which 600 million is destined for providing the most up-to-date technology, which will remain in use after the Games. Beyond that we are developing international cooperation agreements, chiefly with countries that have experience in organizing Olympiads or other major sporting events. Strategic and regular planning is complete, and operational planning is on schedule. We are carrying out a number of Olympic security exercises and improving them where necessary. We are working systematically to achieve our goal, which is none other than holding the Games in an absolutely secure environment. What will be the long-term benefits for the force? First of all, it will boost the country’s image abroad, giving it greater respect and credibility. Of course, other considerable benefits include the well-trained staff, with a wealth of experience and the most modern technology. In practical terms, that means the provision of improved services to the public and finally, a more secure environment. For example, the state-of-the-art communications system will enable an officer attending a road accident to communicate simultaneously with the fire brigade and the ambulance service. In other words, it will be possible to have simultaneous action on the part of various agencies involved in such cases, leading to faster action. In addition, coordinated traffic control will be possible with the transfer of data, sound and image, freeing staff to be used for other tasks. Future priorities You have been in the hot seat at a time marked by major events. How could you sum up your experience so far and what are your future priorities? Indeed, the past two years that I have been police chief have been marked by major events that have had a positive effect on our image abroad, on the image of the police and in the force’s relationship with the public. Our successes in fighting terrorism, our response to our serious obligations during the EU presidency, progress in planning for the Games, the fight against crime in general and in resolution of problems regarding the force itself have been landmarks in the history of the force and in my own career. I must stress that behind all of the above are the Greek police officers themselves, who have displayed a high degree of responsibility, self-denial and professionalism, rightfully earning the people’s trust. There have also been special benefits to the police and society: increased morale, self-confidence and self-esteem among the police force. The people trust the police more, creating better conditions for harmonious cooperation within a climate of mutual respect. As for future priorities, I would like to emphasize that our main strategy is for our country to remain one of the safest in the world. We want to keep improving the Greek police as an organization and to upgrade public services, the relationship between officers and the public, developing new channels of communication and improving the force with regard to training, specialization, pay scales, working conditions, crime reduction, the fight against drugs, organized crime, human trafficking and illegal immigration and further reducing traffic accidents. Of course, our highest priority at the moment is the Games. We are certain we shall succeed. One of our most powerful weapons is excellent preparation, but also the abilities we have as Greeks to rise positively to major challenges.