Police set targets for ‘effective’ year ahead

In a bid to build on the know-how gained during last year’s Olympic Games, the government unveiled a set of measures yesterday to provide more effective policing around the country, including the extension of a pilot scheme introducing neighborhood officers. Under the slogan «An effective police force, close to the citizen,» the Public Order Ministry and police (ELAS) chiefs issued a statement saying that the main priorities for this year are to improve the services offered by ELAS and to modernize the force’s structure. A key element to these processes is the widening of a pilot scheme to get neighborhood officers back on patrol in communities. The project has already been in operation in 42 precincts in Athens and Thessaloniki and is now set to be extended to police stations in another 13 prefectures. The main targets that ELAS has set itself for 2005 are a faster response time to emergency calls and fewer victims of petty crime. Misdemeanors, such as noise pollution, will also be targeted as officers will be armed with 77 newly acquired devices to measure noise levels. In a substantial change from recent practice, this year regional headquarters will not receive a central directive setting out their crime-reduction targets for the next 12 months. Instead, they are being called upon to determine the types of criminal activity in their region that they need to devote most attention to. With regard to road safety, however, police forces around Greece have been told to reduce the amount of people killed or injured in car crashes by 5 percent compared to last year’s figures and to maintain checks on drunk-driving, excessive speeding and other traffic violations at the same level.