Political expediency at the expense of (future) rule of law - Odessa

Not that long ago this entry was published relating to the new “Police” in Kyiv.

All those points hold true, as for your author it is very much home turf.  In short, whilst there is good reason to optimistic, time will tell when it comes to their effectiveness and standing in public opinion some 12 to 24 months from now.

Another entry a few days ago stated “With Odessa next in line to get a newly minted “Police”, your author raised concerns that go much deeper than those comments recently made over a hopefully bright future for the new “Police” in Kyiv.

Quite simply Odessa is not Kyiv. The extraordinary lengths that were went to in Kyiv over the recruitment of the new “Police” under the noses of the President, Cabinet of Ministers and foreign diplomats to Ukraine was highly unlikely to be anything less than scrupulous.

Odessa has a fairly large but generally weak and unnoticed diplomatic corps. There is no President, Cabinet of Ministers or immensely influential diplomatic community to keep a watchful and ever-focused eye over the recruitment process. That there will be (and are) “interests” in Odessa keen on hijacking or perverting the process from the very start at the recruitment phase should come as no surprise.

However much political time, diplomatic energy, and money was invested in the Kyiv Police, it would be wisely doubled for Odessa if “interests” are to be resolutely rebuffed and the desired outcomes from the very moment of the recruitment process are to be realised at graduation (and beyond). Thereafter a consistently watchful eye will have to remain on those “interests” until any new force and its structure are robust enough to self-recruit and mentor new recruits and management can withstand consistent attempts at manipulation.

Those that any new “Police” service deal with are then subject to the notoriously corrupt courts in Odessa – thus it is important to distinguish between good policing and justice actually being done.

Yesterday saw President Poroshenko in Odessa, and the issue of policing was raised.


Whilst here he stated that Odessa would have a new “Police” patrolling the streets of Odessa by September.  A political statement that comes potentially at the expense of the future of rule of law for Odessa.

Even allowing for most glitches in the recruitment and training system to have been solved with the pilot project in Kyiv, it is entirely unrealistic to make such a statement on 8th July and expect by September, to have recruited and vetted the top quality candidates from the masses that may apply, and then to have trained them sufficiently in the laws and statutes that they will enforce, conflict management, self defence and detention techniques, the limitations of discretion, interview techniques, what is (or is not) “reasonable suspicion”, what to do (or not) at crime scenes, evidence chains and their integrity, how to take a witness statement and get the most from a witness, learning to read NVCs, the required paperwork/bureaucracy for any incident, driver training, first aid, firearms training (if applicable), negotiation skills, public (dis)order, (your author could go on), whilst protecting the integrity of the whole kit and caboodle from the “interests” in Odessa seeking to infiltrate and pervert the outcomes  - and expect to produce a real society changing quality “Police”, regardless of how morally courageous and upright the candidates may be.

In short, to turn out any “new police” capable of patrolling alone competently, confidently and with an understanding the laws they are there to enforce by September, to the same standards of those in Kyiv is highly unlikely if corners are not to be cut during both recruitment processes and/or any training (some of which is listed above).

Odessa surely deserves a quality and morally upright police.  But you do not turn out competent, confident, quality police officers via a rushed recruitment and military 6 week boot camp style “basic training” - even when recongnising there is a great deal of learning “on the job” for any police officer - (initially under the watchful eye of a tutor/mentor officer it is to be hoped).

Further into the future there is the consideration of frequent, service long, training days/courses when new statute is introduced, policy/procedural changes occur, equipment is upgraded etc.  Time will tell if that will ever happen, and it is the now that is the issue of this entry.

If President Poroshenko, Governor Saakashvili or anybody else believes that in the 6 weeks between now and September anything approaching a quality new police can be credibly recruited, properly vetted, thoroughly trained in all areas of everyday policing, and delivered at a competency level for independent patrol, then they are entirely deluded and have no understanding of quality policing or effective policing policy.

Patrolling on the streets of Odessa by September is a ridiculous, unnecessary, and clearly politically expedient time line to set for want of something to say whilst in Odessa, rather than a sensible time line that would best prepare any new police officer/service.    The time line will result in an outcome unequipped for the role and the expectations of the local constituents.

Ultimately it is a politically expedient, headline grabbing time line that is unfair on any new officers, and unfair on the public of Odessa.  It is also unfair on anybody involved in the recruitment and training of applicants in Odessa, for they will know they are producing and sending into harms way, far from finished articles by the promised September launch.

Odessa is not Kyiv.  There are those with a lot of personal wealth and owning local media outlets that will revel in undermining, ridiculing and questioning the competency of any new Odessa “Police” they cannot influence at every given opportunity - starting from day one.  It will be a far more hostile environment in certain quarters both politically and in the local media.  Indeed, more rather than less preparation for new officers in Odessa vis a vis their Kyiv counterparts would probably be the wise decision to make.

Here endeth the lesson, as written by somebody who knows very well of what he writes - unfortunately the politically expedient nonsense does not endeth!