Czech Police president slams Interior Ministry’s reform plans

The chief of the Czech police, Petr Lessy, posts criticism of ministerial commission’s proposed reforms on Interior Ministry intranet

Policejní prezident Petr Lessy vzkázal ministrovi Janu Kubicemu: Návrh reformy zpracovaný Vaší komisí není proveditelný. foto: © ČESKÁ POZICE, Jiří Bušek, ČTKČeská pozice

Policejní prezident Petr Lessy vzkázal ministrovi Janu Kubicemu: Návrh reformy zpracovaný Vaší komisí není proveditelný.

Czech Police president Petr Lessy has responded to proposed reforms of the police drawn up by an Interior Ministry expert commission headed by his predecessor, Oldřich Tomášek, which criticizes practically all areas of the functioning of the police. Lessy did so by posting his reservations towards the proposed changes on the interior ministry’s internal website — accessible by thousands of employees — prior to his meeting on Monday with Interior Ministry Jan Kubice.

Czech Position has obtained a copy of Lessy’s critique of the proposed reforms. “I refuse to undertake unfounded, populist gestures for the sake of making a show of change, but I am ready and prepared to carry out genuine, founded and effective reforms with risk management and sufficient time,” Lessy’s writes in the way of a conclusion to his 20-page message in reaction to the proposals by Tomášek’s commission to streamline police command structures and cut spending which Minister Kubice has provisionally endorsed.

So what are the principal proposals to which Lessy objects?  

Reduction of police numbers aimed at saving Kč 550 million.

  • “The commission [headed by Tomášek] calls for cutting 1,167 service positions with forecast savings of Kč 550 million. From those positions only 853 [which could be scrapped] have been identified. The overall saving would thus amount to Kč 380 million,” Lessy says in the document.

Reorganization of 1,042 police positions as civil positions should result in savings of Kč 430 million

  • Analysis conducted by Lessy’s subordinates into the reorganization of police posts into civil positions concludes that this measure would in fact have the opposite effect to that desired: “Savings would ultimately not be achieved by the ‘civilization’ of posts, to the contrary: the costs of replacing service posts with civil positions would according to current remuneration qualifications rise by a total of almost Kč 66 million.”
  • “The overall savings from implementation of the commission’s proposals would amount to just Kč 167.8 million, or 17 percent, of the amount declared by the commission. Such a marked difference between the figure in the commission’s report and our calculation stems from the fact that the report does not take into account the costs that the proposed measures would undoubtedly entail,” Lessy states.

Merger of the of the Anti-Organized Crime unit and the National Anti-Drug Center  

Lessy opposes the merger of these two national-level units foremost on the grounds that expert consultations have not been held and an insufficient timeframe for the introduction of the proposed changes put forward. He also says the proposals to abolish the post of deputy police president for human resources, reorganize of the post of deputy president for economic matters into a civil position, reduce the command structure, and scrap the police guard for constitutional institutions such as the buildings of parliament and the Constitutional Court are “unrealizable.”

Probably a non-starter

Central to Lessy’s criticism is the assertion that Tomášek’s commission simply did not take realities into account when producing the report containing the proposals. According to Lessy, such an approach in the past “led to savings that cost the police dearly.” By this Lessy doesn’t mean only finances: His statement contains a list of risks that he says Tomášek’s proposals would involve. And the list is considerable:

  1. unrealized savings
  2. excessive reduction of command structures
  3. risk of changes being rejected: “The police will lose out from constant changes which would again destabilize police personnel, which damage a basic motivational factor – the certainty of long-term employment and career development according to firm rules. For this reason the police have no reason to support any changes,” Lessy claims.
  4. reduced specialization
  5. destabilization
  6. loss of ties with the security services  
  7. risk of unforeseen consequences
Missed opportunity

The sharp reaction to the proposals for which Kubice has voiced his support, could be related to the speculation about an imminent reshuffle within Petr Nečas’ cabinetBy publishing his statement on the Interior Ministry’s intranet, Lessy has incited a direct conflict with Kubice. A reliable source in the interior ministry told Czech Position that the police president’s aim is for all the proposed changes to be abandoned.   

In the text Lessy says he’s prepared to draw up his own proposal for reforms within the police. “These measures would not be so bombastic and not based upon false assertions about fictive savings, but would put forward genuine savings and propose solutions which would destabilize the law and order forces.”

Nevertheless, he has missed the opportunity to be the first to come forward with proposals for changes to the police force. Czech Position’s sources say that within the police the Tomášek’s commission’s report has been interpreted as an attack on the Police Presidium which Lessy heads, despite the fact that the commission was comprised equally of representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Police Presidium.

The sharp reaction to the proposals for which Kubice has voiced his support, could be related to the speculation about an imminent reshuffle within Petr Nečas’ (Civic Democrats, ODS) cabinet. Prior to the ODS’s party conference in October, rumors surfaced that the head of the ODS branch in Prague, Boris Šťastný, is to replace Kubice.