OPINION

Shaking up the police force

The decision yesterday by the Greek police chief to sack the local chiefs of the Oropos and Kalamos districts was warranted. Their performance was rightly evaluated as poor, given the burgeoning crime rates in the area. Some 15 robberies have taken place in the region over the past two weeks alone. The response by the association of Attica police officers, on the other hand, left a bad impression. In a statement released yesterday, the association slammed the sackings as «a public relations exercise,» suggesting that the number of policemen on duty at the municipality is 40 percent below the required level. The laxity in Greece’s police force is obvious to virtually every citizen. That said, the force is clearly understaffed. The government must make sure it fills the gaps and by all means abandon its notorious plans to resurrect the defunct rural guard force – an unnecessary body that reeks of political opportunism. People’s sense of insecurity in urban areas as well as in the countryside is growing stronger. Public safety is not negotiable, and the government cannot afford to invoke economic or any other obstacles as an excuse for failing to protect its citizens. But before the government goes on to recruit more police officers, it first ought to put an end to the scandalous appointment of some 3,000 «celebrity bodyguards.» In fact the overwhelming majority of these people serve no institution or office and the state is under no obligation to provide them with individual protection. The government must drill to the bone of this unadmitted collusion. On one hand, celebrities seek to enhance their image by being surrounded by policemen paid by Greek taxpayers, and on the other sinecurist parasites of the public fund pretend to be working as guards for wannabe targets. The government must uproot the mentality in the administration of the Greek police and its political leadership.