it’s both an honour and a pleasure to address myself to you at this opportunity when the Union of the Crime Investigation Police has been established in Croatia. The Union of the Crime Investigation Police has been among the very first in this part of Europe which besides the both protection of the employees’ rights in the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Croatia and taking care concerning the improvements of the police work in general, as well, fights with all available legal means for the complex interests of the crime investigation police.
We’ve witnessed to the both organizational and professional long-term collapse of the crime investigation police, consequently, as well to the destruction of its reputation and dignity, i.e. the reputation and dignity of the police in general. Therefore, taking into the account the great deal of the afore mentioned accumulated discontent, as a natural step of course of events was exactly an establishment of this new Union right at the Criminal Police Directorate. The initiative began realizing at the end of November 2013 through an edict to members of the crime investigation police. The initiative itself was not secret and it was based on the constitutionally guaranteed right to form a union. As such, on the one side it resulted with the in generally positive reactions of police officers across the Croatia, and on the other side with the negative reactions of the leadership. Those positive and negative reactions clearly certified to us the rightness of this idea and our chosen path, what made us even more decisive and determined towards the ultimate goal.
Hence, on 16th February 2014 in Zagreb the founders meeting of the Union was held on which meeting the Presidency of the Union was elected, the Court of Honor of the Union was established, and the Statue of the Union was accepted. Pursuant to the decisions made at the above mentioned founders meeting, a request for registration was handed over to the Ministry of Labor and Pension System which on 20th March 2014 issued the Resolution regarding the registration of the Union of the Crime Investigation Police. On 10th April 2014, by joining the Collective Agreement, the Union of the Crime Investigation Police became the equal party in the negotiations with the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Croatia, i.e. with its employer, what was the formality which actually launched the Union into a life.
Legitimate concerns such as: Why among those already existing police unions there should arise one more? Is it really necessary to provide an additional disunion to already existing in deed fragmented unions’ scene?
Although it’s undeniable that this Union’s establishment might almost certainly cause some initial changes and disturbances at the currently existing police unions’ scene, it is to be ensured that this Union is going to strive to encourage and contribute to the unification of the very same scene, and the Union shall be opened for constructive cooperation with the all existing police unions, what shall be as well one of the main guidelines of the Union’s program. Without any doubt, members of the crime investigation police should have already long time ago gotten “their” union, taking into the account, firstly, the important role and position which this profession needs to enjoy in the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia and in Croatian society, and secondly, the fact that until now no one systematically was protecting dignity and honor of this profession and there was no one who would in deed clearly and openly articulate the issues which has been facing the crime investigation police.
Necessity for the establishment of this Union, we would like to substantiate by mentioning some of so many issues which members of the both crime investigation police and police in general face on their working everyday basis, and which issues pop out every day more and more:
- Internal contest (incompetence of some leaders/managers) for certain leadership positions which are in the most cases only a formality and coincide with the political changes, while one of the main criteria continues to be suitability and obedience, not competence and professionalism, so the leadership positions in the crime investigation police are often labeled to the incompetent executives, what consequently leads to problems and “stagnancy” in decision-making process, as well then to wrong decisions concerning the crucial issues like: restructuring of the crime investigation police, strategic guidance, financing – European funds, international reputation and so on… It is important to point out the substantial number of extraordinary promotions for “suitable” persons just to make them fulfill the prerequisites for “internal contests”. (Example: there is substantial number of those who were due to the suitability appointed to the leadership positions then later on relieved from that post due to their ineffectiveness, incapacity and incapability).
- Inappropriately high standards for leadership/managerial positions are placed in front of this profession which itself is largely “craft” profession, and by which high standards the both promotions and appointments are strongly conditioned, why, for example, during the last “personnel rotation” a good number of well competent and experienced leaders whose efficiency was proved by their results, in spite of their possession of the adequate university degrees, were only due to the lack of their personal rank transferred and degraded in an inappropriate way, what points at all imperfections of currently existing system of appointments and promotions.
- Unsatisfactory relationship with the state attorney’s office, which is from one side caused by incompetence and unprofessionalism of some state attorney’s deputies (Municipal State Attorney Offices, County State Attorney Offices and Bureau for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime) who give inappropriate comments regarding by the police officers submitted criminal reports; in some cases without any legal grounds they condition the submission or no-submission of crime reports (indictments) submitted by the police officers just based on possible political and other consequences; often without any hesitation they raise their tone at the crime investigation police officers and disrespect police work (position of the so called “higher value”); and which unsatisfactory relationship is on the other side caused by uncertainty and the passive attitudes of the police leadership. So, often the success of the huge crime investigations is shown like the result of the state attorney only and without any mentioning of the police at all, furthermore, there were some cases of improper interference made by the individual state attorney’s deputies related to the prioritizing of the usage of police resources, as well, interferences related to the actual methodology of police procedures and businesses, etc.
- Very frequent legislative changes (poor role and influence that the police profession has in these changes), for example the last amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code, as well point out the constant disregard towards crime investigation police. Instead of training of the police officers regarding the upcoming regulatory changes and manufacturing/elaborating of the necessary written forms, months have passed by since the above mentioned amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code became legally effective but still no one from the leadership of the Ministry of Interior has responded yet, therefore some employers of crime investigation police are forced to manufacture by themselves those new written forms and to manage on their own, what consequently in practice has brought up the non-standard procedures and different treatments, even within the very same organizational unit, as well as it caused many irregularities and procedural errors while conducting certain actions and measures regarding collection of evidence.
- The police investigators, according to the efforts of the Ministry of Interior’s leadership, can be elected only in case that they have bachelor or master university degree, what continues the systematical degradation of the crime investigation police, also that presents enough how the Ministry of Interior’s leadership treats crime investigation police. Instead of striving to achieve that the police investigators become better paid due to the complexity of the tasks they perform, as well to provide them with the possibility for promotion accordingly their years of service, current state just continues devastation of the crime investigation police which is already for years pushed to the margins of our Ministry.
- Inadequate payment coefficients are highlighting the illogicality, i.e. putting aside the university degrees in this matter, the crime investigation police officers, as well as other police officers who work in the field under jeopardy, bear lower payment coefficients comparing to those who perform their duties solely in the offices. (Examples: whether may be compared the fact that a spokesperson who sits in the office bears a coefficient of 3, while on the other hand the police officer with a university degree diploma who investigates the most serious crimes and who is constantly exposed to deadly situations only bears a coefficient of 1.36, furthermore, the fact that the Administrative Secretary of the Minister has a coefficient of 0.95 and on the other side a police officer of one of the biggest police stations in the country bears a coefficient of 0.8). In addition, it should be mentioned that due to the greater responsibility at the one side and the lower salaries comparing elsewhere in police at the other side, an outflow of the quality personnel from crime investigation police has been continues and permanent, for these reasons it’s quite difficult to motivate the field patrol police officers to come to work in the crime investigation simply because their salary would be ultimately lower, and responsibility and demands much higher and larger.
- Abolition of the substantive rights of police officers in the way that our fundamental rights provided by the Police Act and the Collective Agreement are gradually (“quietly”) reduced and abolished, such as selective reduction and abolition of accelerated beneficiary plan and salary supplements by unclear (unprofessional) criteria, unclear fate of pension funds, reducing the payment of overtime, recording of actual overtime, as well as of a passive duty, all with aim to avoid their payment.
- The annual evaluation is maladjusted to the both police lines of work and job descriptions, and is unfair and demotivating for the most police officers.
- The new announced (one more in a series) police restructuring, which should be guided by saving as a major criterion and not by either the current trends of crime or technological progress, might ultimately have a detrimental effect on both the police profession and citizens, while on the other hand might be in favor of crime.
- Abuse of the legal provisions related to the transfers of police officers, i.e. those has been used for the purposes of intimidation and “mobbing”, not when there is a real and justified need, and while taking into account the specific needs of the police service. Thus, under the pretext of “needs of service” recently 13 police officers from one police organizational unit at the Police Directorate were relocated just because they had claimed for some certain rights under the Collective Agreement. These and similar examples have resulted in creating a climate of insecurity, mistrust and fear among police officers, which inevitably hinders the efficiency of work.
- Statistics are superficially taken in regard as the main (often as the only) criterion to assess the efficiency of work of either an individual or organizational units. Thus on the most harmless way, on the one hand is being the eye of the public deceived and the “appetite” of management fed, while on the other hand is being smooth criminal activity of criminal associations enabled. (Example: more important is the amount of seized cigarettes, weapons, drugs then the number of arrestees and leaders of criminal activities and criminal associations (organizers), as well as the number of suppressed criminal associations).
- threats to police officers are such critical situations which are increasingly showing an unpreparedness of the Ministry of Interior’s leadership to properly deal with, hence there is lack of the providence of the adequate protection for the either police officers or their families due to their involvement in complex criminal investigations against members of criminal associations.
- The unprotected police officers are often left to the prosecution (“sacrificed”) in situations of dubious criminal responsibility.
- Methodology of police procedures insufficiently follows up the technological progress and globalization trends, which is why the police stay behind in some aspects to combat the criminal associations.
- The savings are, in this time of severe economic crisis, largely realized through the denial of material rights of police officers, while on the other hand may be easily witnessed to 24/7 wasteful usage of official vehicles by the leaders/managers at all levels of the Ministry of Interior. (Example, in Switzerland, only the Minister of the Interior has the right to 24/7 usage of the official vehicle).
With regard to the both above mentioned issues and striving towards to achieve the main objective of the Union of the Crime Investigation Police (that is to restore and protect the reputation and dignity of the police profession), we would like in deed that our Union on its way to achieve that objective, really contributes to building of a professional and independent police which shall be recognized as state institution with both an identity and strength to oppose any kind of crime.
As much as possible, all objectives of the Union are going to be achieved through a clear agenda of the Union, which is based on:
- the protection of labor rights of all employees of the Ministry of Interior through the participation in negotiations with the employer (the Ministry of Interior of Republic of Croatia) in accordance with the Collective Agreement, and by the clear articulation of such problems even in public if necessary;
- providing the necessary legal aid either to a group of the police officers or to a police officer as an individual;
- the protection of the independence of the police through a clear and decisive articulation of irregularities detected by the fast-evolving multi-layer external influences, thus preventing more pronounced polarization within the police;
- an initiative to coordinate the unions’ activities and gathering fragmented police unions scene;
- an initiative that under current legislation the Ministry by active approach strat encouraging better collaboration and partnership with the State Attorney’s Office;
- the fight against corruption within the police itself;
- an initiative for active and equal participation of the both crime investigation police and police in general, in all future preparation of draft laws and regulations concerning the work of the police in order to make the best possible proposals for those laws and regulations;
- the protection of police officers needed because of their exposure to different hazards in their daily work and the consequent exposures to the criminals’ threats, by the development of models which help to cope with and to overcome stressful situations caused by the police work;
- an initiative to change the existing regulation which stipulates the conditions related to obtaining of police titles, ranks, progress and promotions through the police profession;
- an initiative to change the regulation which stipulates the internal organization of the Ministry of the Interior (the abolition of the police investigators);
- the introduction of transparent and professional criteria during the selection of leadership and management in crime investigation police and the police in general (the possibility that the police officers take part in the selection of the leadership of their organizational units);
- an initiative to change the rule book which stipulates the evaluation of police officers;
- the establishment of an expert working group within the Union which would draft the new restructure of the crime investigation police in accordance with the profession’s views, trends of crime, and as well as constant technological progress;
- the insistence on reducing the paperwork with the purpose to simplify and facilitate the conducting of crime investigations, and to disburden the both operational and field work ….
Please, may we kindly emphasize that, regardless of the name of this Union which might seem a bit narrowly more linked to the certain part of the large-scale of the police work, the doors of the Union of the Crime Investigation Police are always being opened to all members of the police force in deed, as well to all employees and retirees of the Ministry of the Interior, and it can be taken for granted that that all shall without any doubt at all be welcomed and treated absolutely equal, and may we use this opportunity to invite you to join us.
In the end, we invite all of you who have recognized yourselves in the fundamental principles of this Union to spread our common idea among all members of the police force and to join us to actively participate in the building of this Union, while at the very same time by your dedicated and professional approach in carrying out of your daily duties stay a role model for all others in your working environment.
On behalf of the Presidency of the Union of the Crime Investigation Police
Zagreb, 9th April 2014