NEWS

Impressive on paper only, a number of ELAS departments have staff shortages

The allocation of police officers looks good on paper, but is not always maintained in practice. Protection duties. Some 2,000 police officers are assigned to protect various people who are deemed potential targets, and 5,000 to guarding buildings. An attempt to withdraw some officers from such duties has been rather timid. Nobody has been removed from the list of targets, so not only deputies, judges and executives of all kinds, but also private citizens, journalists, publishers and entrepreneurs continue to enjoy police protection. Non-police activities. Store inspections, checking town-planning violations, measuring noise levels and delivering summonses are among the activities that occupy around 1,800 police officers and 300 police vehicles every day in Attica, according to ELAS records. In addition, many officers are assigned to duties at sporting events, protest rallies and marches and even religious services. Secondments. While in theory nearly all departments have the number of staff they need to do their work, that number is often thinned out in practice by secondments to other sections. This is one of the most prevalent political favors in the force, with officers being posted to parliamentary security, protection of dignitaries and the secret service, some of which are better paid. Constant changes in planning, priorities and goals, arising from the lack of a human resources management system. ELAS officers say that each change of government, minister, or even of director entails a change of plans and priorities. There are many examples. Foot patrols were implemented, canceled, then planned again. The institution of neighborhood police officers started on a pilot basis but was never expanded, even though it was judged a success at building police-public relations. The security departments were abolished and re-established. None of these was implemented on the basis of long-term planning after serious study and on the basis of scientific data and criteria. They are usually decisions made by the politicians and directors of the day on the basis of reports and experience, and copied from measures implemented successfully in other countries. Lack of scientific documentation and proof of what is needed in order to exercise an effective security policy. For instance, police officials say that the staffing and equipping of police stations is not done on the basis of any specific criteria that takes into account factors such as population density, land use and town planning. The result is that police stations in downtown Athens and in remote parts of Attica have the same setup to meet completely different requirements.