OPINION

Celebrity bodyguards

An editorial in these pages last year noted that despite the clampdown on the main domestic terrorist groups, a disproportionately large number of police officers were assigned to protecting individuals and buildings. A year on, and despite the fact that the emergency security demands of the Athens Olympic Games stipulated the reallocation of police officers assigned to carry out all sorts of tasks unrelated to their profession, those persons entitled to guards have reacted to the possibility of their being deprived of police protection – either because they use policemen as their personal servants or because the officers put at their service are political or personal friends who wish to remain in the safe and easy post of bodyguard without real reason. A confidential report by the Greek Police that was published in the Greek edition of Kathimerini on Sunday revealed that 1,825 police officers have been assigned for the protection of individuals or buildings, while another 1,185 perform similar duties as special guards or border guards. Strangely enough, a considerable number have been unofficially allocated to such posts, by which the police are unable to provide an exact figure. An overview of the individuals under police protection demonstrates the absurdity of the system. People who enjoy the same status are entitled to a different number of bodyguards for no particular reason, while the long list of people who enjoy police protection includes several businessmen, publishers and journalists. It is incomprehensible why journalists need police protection and, most importantly, why the cost of these security measures should be covered by the state when these individuals are known to have more than enough resources to pay the expenses. The number of police officers who are assigned to protect individuals who ostensibly constitute potential targets comprise 30 percent of Attica’s police force. Given that, one realizes that this is not a trivial issue but a blatant case of unequal treatment at the expense of the average citizen who is dogged by everyday crime and who gets to shoulder the cost of the extra security measures installed for the various celebrities. This scandalous regime has to stop. Even if we accept that police protection should be maintained for those political figures who face an objective threat, the same cannot be said for the wide range of wealthy individuals. We must do away with such pandering and put police officers back where they belong.