Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cash-strapped cops

From: WBJ
The Polish police has found itself suffering from financial woes recently, resulting in it reducing the number of trainings for its officers. Some specialized equipment is lying unused as well, since there are not enough trained officers to use it.

The Polish police force has been forced to slash training training expenses in recent months in a bid to save money. The force has shortened training and even canceled some seminars, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reported last week.

Experts worry this could result in safety threats to the public.

Due to the lack of trained personnel, a number of recently-purchased high-speed Triumph motorcycles and police dogs are never used. Unionists denounced this waste of money.

Police spokesperson Mariusz Sokolowski commented that unlike the past year, 2010 will be a year of training for the Polish police, with a higher number of specialized courses. “The Office of Personnel and the Training Police Headquarters are collecting information on the number of people who should be trained as soon as possible in specialized workshops,” Mr Soko?owski told Gazeta Wyborcza.

He admitted earlier reports that motorcycles are parked unused in garages, but said that this situation is not due to lack of trained officers who can ride them, but to the cold weather.

Training times

It takes seven months for a police officer to be fully trained – the shortest period of any force in Europe.

Mr Soko?owski said that the training actually comprises six months of schooling, and nearly two months of practical training. In comparison, Czech officers are trained for 18 months, and their German counterparts three years.

Wages form the bulk of the Polish police force’s budget. There are currently around 103,000 officers in the force, as well as 12,000 civilian employees. The annual budget for 2009 was zl.6.951 billion – a 10-percent reduction from 2008.

Last fall, Commander in Chief of Police Andrzej Matejuk told Gazeta Prawna that despite an expected increase of about 7.8 percent and continued funding from the modernization program of the Police and the EU, the police budget in 2010 would still be a difficult one.