NEWS

Municipal police force is official

A new, nationwide municipal police force is to be set up with the power to check citizens’ identity and enter private areas, under a presidential decree signed by the interior and public order ministers. The force, whose estimated 10,000 members all over the country will be issued with a common uniform and identity card, will be unarmed and without powers of arrest. The municipal policemen and policewomen will also be responsible for the implementation of laws on parking, construction, water supplies, irrigation, sewage, noise pollution, and the environment, and will assume the duties of the defunct rural police force. They will undergo eight months of training at police academies, including a crash-course on legal matters. The estimated 2,300 municipal police officers already serving in various parts of the country will keep their jobs, on condition that they also undergo similar training within two years of the formation of the new body. The bid has been viewed with skepticism, if not outright hostility, by many Greeks who feel this is taking Greek-Turkish rapprochement too far at a time when Turkey continues with a hard-line stance on Cyprus’s EU candidacy and a number of bilateral issues remains unresolved.