Bodyguards return to their beat

Another drive has been initiated to free up police officers assigned to bodyguard duty, an issue that has been of concern to the ministry leadership, where some steps have been taken toward resolving it. A senior ministry official told Kathimerini that since the Olympic Games, a total of 900 police officers acting as bodyguards had returned to regular duties. The vast majority of them were guarding businessmen and generally prominent figures in Greece’s economic life, while some were guarding politicians. According to the official, this number represents about 30 percent of the police officers in these jobs, bringing the total to 3,000 officers, although official lists refer to only 2,000. These recent transfers led to strong protests, but the political will to carry them out had been expressed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself. The ministry official said, however, that the police officers who had returned to regular duties are of a somewhat advanced age as many of them had been on bodyguard duty for 10-15 years. They had not been through training programs in the interim and had lost touch with developments on the force. Many of them frequently produce medical certificates to avoid regular duties. «They have acquired the mentality of loafers,» said the ministry official, adding that due to their lack of further training, these officers provided no guarantee of safety to the individuals they were supposed to be protecting.