Accountability of police officers: spiders pass, and small flies get caught?

The goal of internal mechanisms for determining accountability is to make difference between those police officers who obey the law and the rules of the service and those who do not obey, or obey to a lesser extent, said Dina Bajramspahic, Public Policy Researcher at Institute Alternative.

She highlighted the importance of a consistent and non-selective processing of the police officers at a panel discussion organized by the IA, called ”Internal Mechanisms for Determining the Accountability of Police Officers”.

Bajramspahic also states that the accountability is timely established for those officers who feel asleep during the third shift, while there is no criminal responsibility and investigation of more serious cases, such as enormous enrichment of some police officers.

The conclusions and recommendations of this panel discussion, which gathered the interlocutors from the Internal Control Unit, Disciplinary Commission and Ethics Committee, refer to the improvement of the work of these bodies, strengthening their competencies and capacities, as well as the employment of the highest quality personnel.

”It is hard to hire personnel because our jobs are not popular, just the opposite, they are very repellent. Also, our highest quality personnel are taken by Police Administration. When it comes to salaries, we are practically equal to the police officers, and since our employees can have inconveniences with their colleagues (other police officers) during their work, these circumstances do not motivate officers to choose Internal Police Control”, said Marina Radonjic, Chief Police Adviser at Internal Police Unit.

IA’s president of the Managing Board, Stevo Muk, took part in discussion and said that the law should give more authority to the Internal Police Unit in order to deal with key problems of accountability of police officers, such as corruption, enrichment of police officers and falsification of diplomas.

”A clue of possible corruption and crime is left in the property itself that the officials are earning. We know that there is not a small number of cases in which when you compare incomes and assets of police officers, you can notice a major incompatibility. Why Internal Control did not deal with this problem, when the Law gave authority to this body to do so?” asked Velizar Kaludjerovic, from Democratic Montenegro.

Radonjic pointed out that police is not a criminal organization, so one can not expect some astonishing statistics regarding the processing of police officers, while decline in the number of complaints on police officers from 2014 should be considered as a positive result of the long-lasting work of Internal Control Unit, and not as ineffectiveness of this body. As proof of the increase in the capacity of this body, she mentioned equipping this body to perform measures of secret surveillance, both in technical and personnel terms.

President of Ethics Committee, Radomir Radunovic, spoke about the basic tasks and goals, as well as the results and weaknesses of this body. He stated that in 2017 a total of 721 proceedings were initiated in the Ethics Committee. Since the establishment, the Committee worked in three cycles, and the Ministry of Interior appointed new board last week.

When asked by Dina Bajramspahic what happened with cases in the period from the expiration of the last mandate until the appointment of the new board (from February to October 2018), Radunovic responded that the Committee received a certain number of reports in that period, and that right after the session of the Committee they will start working on it.

A member of the Disciplinary Commission, Azra Cama, said that in the first half of the 2018, 31 cases were initiated against 42 officials, and that they are mostly related to violations of behavior of police officers (in and out of work), as well as non-executing the tasks the were given. According to her, the proceedings are being much faster terminated now, because the law prescribed the possibility of termination of proceeding in the absence of police officer, while before they avoided attending the proceedings, which led to the postponement of proceeding termination.

Bajramspahic believes that it is important to point put the problem of ”fake medical certificates”, which is being used by police officers to justify their absence and prolong disciplinary proceedings. She stated that such abuses could significantly harm the legitimacy of the Disciplinary Commission. Djekic, from the Police Administration, proposed involvement of a medical expert to examine those certificates, adding that this is a criminal offense of a doctor who gives fake certificate, not an officers fault.

Citing the French novelist Balzac, Dina Bajramspahic, IA, gave a conclusion that ”Law is a spider-web through which spiders pass, and the small flies get caught”, pointing out the need of a consistent approach to the prosecution of both lower-ranking police officers, and those who are at higher rankings of the police hierarchy.

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