Poll: Lochman a strong contender for top cop

An online survey for police president shows that the chief commander of the police’s Rapid Response Unit has wide support

Velitel Útvaru rychlého nasazení Libor Lochman (vpravo) je mnoho let uznávaným policejním profesionálem, který má nesporné renomé v zahraničí. | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Velitel Útvaru rychlého nasazení Libor Lochman (vpravo) je mnoho let uznávaným policejním profesionálem, který má nesporné renomé v zahraničí. | foto: ČTKČeská pozice
Velitel Útvaru rychlého nasazení Libor Lochman (vpravo) je mnoho let uznávaným policejním profesionálem, který má nesporné renomé v zahraničí.

The Czech public’s interest in the selection procedure for the post of the police president is focusing rather excessively on the makeup of the commission that will select a suitable candidate. The proposed Social Democrat (ČSSD) members — František Bublan and Martin Pecina — have refused to sit on the commission as there was no guarantee that the candidate chosen by the commission would actually be appointed. They may return if such guarantee is made.

The police president post became vacant when Oldřich Martinů resigned in the wake of the Environment Ministry scandal that caused a no-confidence vote at the end of December 2010.

While people wait for the commission to get started in earnest, they can at least let their will be known. The website www.p1000.eu has launched a straw poll called Choose Your Police President where people can vote for potential candidates.

The selection procedure is limited to policemen with the highest rate of pay, i.e., presidents of the regional police directorates and their deputies, and the heads and deputies of police units with nationwide authority. Some 27 candidates who meet the criteria are listed on the site in order of their current vote standing. Anyone can vote, without revealing their age, sex or even citizenship.

The results are, of course, nonscientific and nonbinding, as the commission has no obligation to take the privately run poll seriously. But maybe they should at least look at its results.

The survey initially took a rather one-sided course. Libor Lochman, the chief commander of the Rapid Response Unit (URNA), was in the lead with considerably more votes than anyone else. After his initial lead dropped a bit, Lochman and Ivan Bílek, the deputy police president, were closely competing for first and second place with Bílek sometimes in the lead.

After the two front runners, there is a bit of a gap in the vote totals, with the 25 other police officials showing lackluster levels public support.

I dare say, however, that Lochman’s strong showing is notable. His department is not so big that his subordinates could click their boss through to the top. It wouldn’t be necessary either. Lochman has for many years been a highly regarded police professional with an undisputable standing abroad. Lochman has, however, thus far declined to be named as head of the police force.

He has, however, declined to be the head of the police force although the post had been offered to him. Considering all the weird occurrences, procedures and all sorts of other shenanigans relating to the selection of personnel in the state administration, and the number of various “nutters” who don’t hesitate to ask for a high-ranking post, Lochman’s approach seems to be out of this world.

Allow me a small diversion. Some time ago, three ministers in Václav Klaus’ government were asked to select a new director of the Security Information Service (BIS). They had one candidate and found another one to be his opponent. To ward off unnecessary media attention, a third person was taken in, a professional who was completely aware that his nomination was just a tactical move.

During an interview with the minister of the interior at that time, there was talk about the BIS director’s post. The candidate, who used to be employed in this organization, gave the minister a perfect analysis of the current situation of the BIS. He summarized it in 10 points and explained why it would be madness to accept this job. After this candidate had gone, the minister said, “He would have made a great director.”

This anecdote is also relevant to Lochman’s situation. Admittedly, the police president can’t use much of his policeman’s skills and experience in his job. This type of work is said to be boringly administrative and managerial. Nevertheless, it should not be done by a dull administrator or a ruthless manager but by someone quite accomplished in the whole of the criminal justice system (why should it be only police who are eligible?) who can also motivate policemen and who is, above all, morally credible. 

There are countless of those who think they’ve got what it takes. There are considerably fewer of those who are regarded as such by others. That is why this Internet survey can be at least of some guidance.

Expert commission proposed by the Minister of Interior

According to Minister of the Interior Radek John (Public Affairs, VV), the commission should consist of former Interior Ministers František Bublan (ČSSD, 2004–06) and Martin Pecina (ČSSD, 2009–10), police union head Milan Štěpánek, the government’s legislature expert and specialist in extremism Michal Mazel, Deputy Ministers of the Interior Jaroslav Salivar and Jiří Franc, police psychologist Ludmila Čírtková, director of the Police Security Service František Snopek, and head of strategic planning of the Police Presidium Pavel Osvald. The chairwoman of the committee is Ivana Moravcová, head of the human resources department of the Ministry of the Interior. This proposed makeup of the commission is currently still standing.