The need to revise police tactics

A stop-and-search crackdown earlier this week by police in northeast and northwest Athens resulted in 160 detentions in just 24 hours, 39 of which ended up as arrests on criminal charges. This is hardly surprising for such busy areas, especially in view of the current understaffing of the police force which may well have stimulated the appetites of would-be criminals. It is unclear whether the success of this recent operation served to restore the tarnished influence of the police force or whether it constitutes a public relations victory for the Public Order Ministry. In any case, there is still cause for concern. After all, the purpose of our security forces is not to stage impressive, unannounced operations so they appear to be doing something constructive but rather to silently and efficiently fulfill their obligations on a daily basis without self-promotion through the media; the emphasis should be on preventive tactics, on averting would-be criminals, not on after-the-fact detection and arrest. For years now, we have been told that the best preventive strategy is the allocation of more pedestrian officers in order to instill the fear within would-be criminals that a police patrol may be lurking around the corner. Of course, the current problem is that many crucial posts are empty while too many officers are wasting their energies on the «protection» of various VIPs. Basically, it is difficult to grasp exactly how our national force intends to fulfill its pledge of «extending policing activities… and reinstating citizens’ sense of security» if it fails to boost the presence of officers in core activities.