Delta squad has its detractors

Less than one month since the police’s rapid-reaction force, known as the Delta squad, was first deployed in Athens, doubts are emerging about how effective it will be. Retired senior policemen who headed up previous squads with specific tasks have suggested that the Delta squad could suffer the same fate and be discarded after a while. A criminologist has also underlined the fact that the creation of the squad does not make up for the absence of community policing. The Delta squad, whose motorcycle-riding officers respond immediately to crime in the city center, is the latest in a long line of specially assembled task forces. At the beginning of this decade, the Pegasus team was formed to tackle traffic offenses, speeding in particular. It was the brainchild of the then head of the traffic police Constantinos Tzekis, who says that the squad was very efficient. «We had really good results and the reduction in accidents was clear,» he told Kathimerini. Tzekis’s successor, Panayiotis Adamidis, suggested that Pegasus was too successful for its own good. «We quadrupled the number of offenses recorded,» he said. «This obviously upset professional drivers who exerted pressure for Pegasus to stop.» Repeated protests by taxi drivers eventually forced the squad to be disbanded. Similarly, in 2005, it was decided that police vans would drive around the center of Athens and Thessaloniki to act as mobile police stations. But this measure only lasted a few months because of staff shortages. The creation of the Delta squad appears to be another attempt to boost the police’s presence on city streets but criminologist Vassilis Karydis points out that this is not community policing. «Community policing has the specific aim of placing the policeman within society, so he can come into contact with schools, parent associations and shop owners,» he said.

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