An order issued by the Greek Police (ELAS) for the transfer of officers from various departments to boost riot police units in Athens and Thessaloniki has prompted an angry response from the union representing police workers, who complain that all departments are understaffed.
“Instead of a substantial boost, the smart alecks in charge have discovered a completely improvised method to bolster other police departments, which are struggling,” the Athens police workers’ union, EASYA, said.
The statement came in response to ELAS’s decision, made after talks with Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili, to move 100 officers to riot police units.
Currently, there are 1,600 riot police officers for Athens, 500 fewer than there should be. Because of this, riot police units dispatched during protest rallies comprise 10 or 11 officers rather than 16 or 18, creating serious risks for both police officers and citizens, unionists say.
“This practice leads to mistakes and puts our colleagues in danger,” EASYA president, Dimosthenis Pakos, told Kathimerini.
The new officers are to come from ELAS’s immigration unit, the transport police and the security police. But those departments are also said to be understaffed.
The union has said additional hirings is the only way of tackling the problem. In its statement on Friday it called for “solutions here and now,“ warning that otherwise the riot police force will be a “shadow of itself.”
ELAS is under pressure to boost its riot police units both in the capital and Thessaloniki but, apart from the staff shortage, it faces reluctance on the officers’ part to join the riot police units, a relatively stressful and low-paid job.