Greater police presence needed

The deadly four-car pileup in the Alamana region in central Greece on Saturday, which occurred after a car attempted to pass in risky conditions, once again underscored the relative absence of traffic policemen along the national highways and the streets of Athens and other cities. Outside Athens, one can drive for hundreds of kilometers and not come across a single police car or motorbike. As for the capital, the habit of double-parking transforms thoroughfares into back streets that are almost impossible to navigate. Even sidewalks are becoming virtually inaccessible to pedestrians due to commercial deliveries and illegally parked cars and bikes. No one seems to willing to confront the wrongdoers, who are taking more and more liberties. A study released by the University of Crete last year showed that increasing the number of traffic policemen patrolling the country’s road network leads to a reduction in the number of accidents. But few officials seem to have taken the findings into consideration. Indifference seems to be part of a more general trend. Overall the number of traffic police – and police officers in general – patrolling in the national road network appears to be on the wane. Many police chiefs wrongly welcomed the introduction of electronic means of monitoring (such as road cameras) in recent years as a substitute for their own duties and not as a factor for increasing public safety. Few senior police officials seem to care, since road cameras have increased the number of fines and therefore cash inflow. As a result, the people feel completely abandoned in aspects of their everyday life where a police presence is vital. It’s usually in small things but these tend to cause other problems and constant annoyance. Prevention – which is always better achieved through physical presence – mandates that police and traffic police officers be constantly on patrol so as to deter potential wrongdoers. Police officers that sit behind the monitor of a road camera, issuing fines, are doing little service to the common good. The minister of public order ought to remind police officers of their fundamental obligation to maintain a constant public presence.

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