OPINION

Alas, it was to be expected

The young shop assistant who was shot dead during an armed robbery in Vyronas was a predictable victim of the escalating violence in this country. When armed robberies barely make the news, when hooded thieves hit grocery stores for a couple of hundred euros and a handful of phone cards, it was just a matter of time before someone got killed. The more efficient operation of the police would certainly help curb the crime wave. Unfortunately, the dysfunction of the police force is not just a practical matter. For one thing, there are some 4,000 officers in Attica alone who are assigned to guard politicians and public figures, buildings and offices and individuals who are considered possible targets of terrorism. These law enforcement officers, who are parked at desks and in fancy cars, are therefore absent from the streets, from their vital duties of public protection. This force, which acts as a deterrent to gunslingers, has been taken away from the citizens. The police force also suffers from a string of structural malfunctions, from corruption and cronyism to poor training, an unsophisticated mentality and a lack of political guidance. It suffers from a lot. But however strong and efficient a police force is, it is not enough to wipe out crime and tackle the causes of crime. The crime wave we are experiencing today comes down to the general derailment of the democratic state and the erosion of the social fabric. The uncontrollable influx of migrants and refugees, the lamentable work conditions of foreign laborers, growing social inequality, the overall feeling that politicians and other public figures enjoy immunity from the law, lack of reliability of public services, widespread corruption within the state, the way in which justice seems to pick and choose where it will fulfill its duty, all this, taken together and crammed into a big city, makes very fertile ground for crime. The answer to these problems are not in better policing. Civil society and the democratic state, or what’s left of them, need to come up with the answers. It’s a question of democracy.