Police Reform? What Policemen think from the Oblasts

August 28, 2015

“4500 Dvd Disks, 500 micro SD memory cards”. High rank officials from Kharkiv’s Criminal Police do not need time to record openly (on condition of anonymity) their most urgent and plain needs, by just quoting last year’s regional assessment. And they say that because they know they cannot expect more by now. “More staff, patrol vehicles, laptops, other technical means for undercover investigation”, would be some basic tools to perform adequately their duties.

They preferably avoid to talk about salaries, by standing on their dignity, but the hidden issue is there. If they earn in a month what a foreign tourist spends here in one day there is a problem. And if with such amount they are unable to fuel their patrol cars, the problem is not only dramatically individual, but operational. “Low salaries fuel corruption”, has repeatedly warned EUAM’s Head of Mission Kalman Mizsei.

Other law enforcement bodies confirm such difficulties. “We still have to work on paper”, admitted Kharkiv’s Public Order Police. The old paper is charming but, again, the problem is operational.

The whole frank (and wider) conversation on basic needs stemmed from an analysis on the recent Police Reform. There is no opposition on it from first line Policemen in the Oblasts. A recent poll shows that 82% of Karkhiv’s citizens support the reform process, and the proportion shifts to 91% among law enforcement officers. So, no complaint on that, they truly stand for change.

The challenge is rather its implementation, owing to a huge communication gap. Nobody seems to be adequately informet on it, even after questioning colleagues in Kiev. Asked about their willingness to receive some “training” to improve their productivity and organisation, they react with at least two immediate answers. “In a small police station, if someone leaves its daily work for some training that station has to shut up due to staff shortages” – is the first reply. The second one is specifically about reform: “If someone tells us what to do, that’s all the ‘training’ that we’d seriously need”.