PODGORICA—Building police integrity demands employment of the highest quality personnel and strengthening competencies and capacities of internal control bodies.

A consistent approach to the prosecution of both lower-ranking police officers and those who are at higher rankings of the police hierarchy is necessary for strong integrity, panelists concluded at the discussion on police accountability organized by the Institute Alternative on October 26, in Podgorica.

“Accountability exists for those police officers who fell 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, said Dina Bajramspahić, public policy researcher in the Institute Alternative.

The goal of internal control mechanisms should be to make difference between those police officers who obey the law and those who do not or obey to a lesser extent. Highest quality staff within internal control bodies is necessary element for accountable police, added Bajramspahić.

“It is hard to hire personnel because our jobs are not popular, just the opposite, they are very repellent. In addition, Police Administration takes our highest quality personnel. 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 Radonjić, Chief Police Adviser at Internal Police Unit.

Institute Alternative’s President of the Managing Board Stevo Muk said that the legal framework 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.

Radonjić pointed out that police is not a criminal organization, so one cannot expect some astonishing statistics regarding the processing of police officers.

The decline in the number of complaints on police officers from 2014 is as a positive result of the long-lasting work of Internal Control Unit, and not as the ineffectiveness of this body.

As proof of the increase in the capacity of this body, Radonjić mentioned equipping this body to perform measures of secret surveillance, both in technical and personal terms.

President of Ethics Committee, Radomir Radunović, spoke about the basic tasks and goals, as well as the results and weaknesses of this body.

“721 proceedings in 2017 were initiated by the Ethics Committee. Since the establishment, the Committee worked in three cycles, and the Ministry of Interior appointed new board last week”, said Radunović.

When asked by Bajramspahić 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), Radunović 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 2018, 31 cases were initiated against 42 officials and that they are mostly related to violations of the behavior of police officers (in and out of work), as well as non-executing the tasks they were given.

According to Cama, the termination of proceedings are now much faster since the law prescribed the possibility to terminate it in the absence of a police officer.

“In the past, police officers avoided attending the proceedings, which led to the postponement of proceeding termination”, explained Cama.

Bajramspahić 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.

Cama stated that such abuses could significantly harm the legitimacy of the Disciplinary Commission.

Milanka Djekić from the Police Administration proposed involvement of a medical expert to examine those certificates. Moreover, Djekić explained that in this case, a doctor who gives a “fake certificate” committed a criminal offense, and it is not an officer’s fault.

TAGS: Internal ControlMontenegroPanel DiscussionPodgoricaPolice Reform