Monday, May 04, 2009

Reputation of Polish Police Force at stake?

The Polish Central Investigative Agency has busted a gang involving three anti-terrorist police officers, in Lodz, central Poland. The ongoing investigation has attracted the attention of some media and a debate has been sparked on how corrupted the Polish law enforcement can be, and should citizens stop to trust it.

Allegedly, three police officers of the Lodz anti-terrorist brigade, worked for a gang after hours. Reportedly, their motive was low wages at the police, as well as... boredom. Perfectly trained functionaries just did not have much to do in their job. So they started making additional money as bodyguards at mafia-run establishments. Later, they were to terrorize owners of night clubs and force them to employ gang members as bodyguards. This, in turn, made it possible to control drug dealing on the spot, monopolizing the market. Occasionally, they would let the police arrest dealers working for their competition.

The group was finally busted, and the presence of three police functionaries has been publicized as a scandal. It was police officers who cleared their ranks of unworthy functionaries, explains Mariusz Sokolowski, spokesman of the Polish Police. There is no reason why these three individual cases of arrested criminals should damage the reputation of a one hundred thousand-strong Polish Police force, especially now that they face justice, he says. Wojciech Kulesza, social psychologist and professor at the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities says that once the media debate calms down, the public perception of the police should get back to normal.

Not so much corruption scandals, but general inefficiency bother Polish society more, according to the recent opinion poll, commissioned by the Polish Police Headquarters. One third of the respondents say they refrained from reporting a crime to the police, because they judged it was not serious. One in four said they did not believe the culprit would be caught. Ten percent preferred to take the matter in their own hands. Forty percent were satisfied with the service they received from the police. More or less the same number had complaints, mostly about the inefficiency - culprits were not caught and stolen property never restored. 17% of respondents complained about rude police officers and over twice that number thought the procedures took too much time.