Rural cops to return in 2006

Eleven years after the old Rural Police was disbanded, the Public Order Ministry is working on a draft bill to revive the force in a new form, with duties ranging from protecting the environment to monitoring unruly flocks of goats and stopping illegal migrants. Ministry sources told Kathimerini yesterday that the new-style Rural Police (Agrofylaki) will carry the more cumbersome title of «Rural Security and Environmental Protection Force.» Under the bill, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament within the next few months, up to 8,000 officers will be hired to man the new force, with the first 2,500 hirings expected in early 2006. Members of the force will wear uniforms and carry arms. Their brief will include protecting crops from theft or damage – including damage by farm animals – keeping an eye on the countryside’s flora and fauna, stopping poaching, illegal immigration and cannabis cultivation. The Agrofylaki was founded in 1954, though abolished in 1984 by the first Socialist government. New Democracy revived it in 1990, and PASOK disbanded it in 1994.

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