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Policemen deserve the respect and esteem of the public, and must have the necessary support from the law.

A talk with Martin Hrinko, the director of the Public Order of Police of the Police Presidium of the Czech Republic:  “Policemen deserve the respect and esteem of the public, and must have the necessary support from the law.

What attracted you to this profession mostly?

I think most guys want to be, generally speaking, paramedics, policemen, firemen, doctors or soldiers. I was not an exception to this. I realized what my future employment would be while in the military service. It was the similarities with the military service system that deepened my interest in joining the police. Also, I realized my great need for a sense of duty, responsibility for my work, the desire to protect the interests of the state, uniformity, subordination, teamwork and weapons.

 Where did you start?

I began with the former border guard troops of the Interior Ministry at Suchdol nad Lužnicí, in Slavonice and Znojmo. I joined the police in 1993 at the North Region and began basic training. I graduated with honors in Holešov. I started as an ordinary policeman in Ostrava Hrabůvka. Gradually, with regard to my important posts during my 20 year professional path, I worked as the head of the OPP Ostrava - Poruba, deputy director of the Municipal Directorate of Ostrava, Director of the District Directorate of Karviná, Deputy Regional Director in the North Moravian region, and at my current position of Director of the Public Order of Police in Prague. My whole career path is associated with the police service.

The riot police service is one of the main pillars of the Police of the Czech Republic. How many policemen do you have at your disposal at the moment?

That's right, riot police service is one of the main pillars of the police, and also the largest. At the moment, there are nearly 14,000 cops. To make it clearer for your readers, cops include all uniformed officers who wear the blue cap on the streets, operating for example against hooligans and extremists at the stadiums and demonstrations – they detain armed offenders, search for persons and objects, solve offenses and help with criminal proceedings. This includes the riot and crowd control units, and local police departments. Moreover, they perform diving activities, business trials and hipology, and we have reverine departments and others.

Is the number of policemen sufficient?

A lot has already been said about the sufficiency of riot policemen. Also, there are various views on it. In my view, I suppose the number of officers is at its lowest at the moment, despite the fact that the number of unlawful acts asymmetrically decreases with an increase in the number of police officers. Thus, the lower number of police officers could have a negative impact on crime in our country. Many opinions and the overall comparative analysis across Europe say that the ratio of police officers in the Czech population is high. I disagree with that opinion, as the analysis compares the so-called state police. However, e.g. Poland has police which ensure order in the streets, in transport etc. Yet, the public order in the trains ensures protection of the tracks paid for by the state. In comparison, we could talk about Italy or France. To sum it up, the police actions in question, which are in these countries distributed among other security services, are performed only by one police force in the Czech Republic, i.e. the police of the Czech Republic.

According to you, is the Act on Police of the Czech Republic sufficient or would you like to see some amendments in the near future? And in what way, eventually?

The current law is in my opinion the best law that the police have ever had. Therefore, I would not recommend major amendments at the moment. In my opinion, it would be advisable to return to the Act a Criminal Law Section, indicating verbal assault on a public official (police officer - a public official) as a criminal offense. Since the non-verbal assault on a police officer qualifies as a misdemeanor, the public often does not hold back in communication with officers. Since the policeman is a state officer, such behavior only mirrors the citizen’s attitude to policemen, much like the disrespect against the state and the state apparatus. That’s obviously not good. Policemen deserve the respect and esteem of the public, and must have the necessary support in the law.

Have the budget cuts significantly touched the riot police? In this respect, what would you like the new government to do for the Police of the Czech Republic?

Any cuts in corporate finance are significant and translate into the daily activities of employees and the company. So it is with police. I have to admit that most of the Ministers of Interior, which I´ve had the chance to know during my career at the police, have tried really hard to get the necessary finances for the police department. I firmly believe the same applies for the new government as well.

It seems that the work of some police units and fire brigades have been financially underestimated in the long run. These people often risk their lives, have special training, etc. Is it anyhow possible to change it?

I am sure that those who choose to work as policemen, and continue to do so for several years, or even for their entire active life, know that this work is not about wealth, capital gain, holidays in exotic destinations, or lunches and dinners at exclusive restaurants. Policemen do their work as their police mission for a salary that will pay for their necessary things. Many policemen are leaving the service precisely because of the unsatisfactory wages. Moreover, graduates come to the police for many reasons, but unfortunately not all of them follow their heart with this work. When they find out that their starting salary is around CZK 15,000 and after a few years only a few thousand more, they leave the job knowing that they can get considerably more in the private sector - a company car, mobile phone, laptop, etc. Not least interesting seems to be the view of the wages of top officials within the police compared with the private sector. I can assure you that most managers of companies in the private sector, from 3,000 to 39,000 employees, would not be willing to work for such a salary, effort, risk and responsibility.

The Police of the Czech Republic do not have a very good reputation in the public eye. How do you explain that above all? Do you think it is possible at all to get the confidence of the public back?

I believe it is possible to earn a greater degree of confidence from the public, and we at the police work hard to get there. Our management is consistently looking for ways to do so. The reputation of our police has been spoiled by individuals who act unlawfully. Moreover the media can interpret the misconduct of individuals in an organization with 39 thousand employees in such a way that for months afterward the police are forced to hear from citizens on the other side of the Republic, who say that the police are all corrupt, thieves or fraudsters, because it has been said so on TV.

Can you say what you have received several awards for?

I am very happy to have received several awards, especially for work, loyalty, merit of security, for winning nationwide competitions, and last but not least for exemplary performance of official duties.

What are your hobbies? How do you like spend your free time?

My biggest hobby is my work, though my family doesn´t like to hear it, yet all people around me know that work comes first. I also like studying, as I am kind of a “study type”, and I´ve spent 16 years at University. At present, I publish in the world's scientific publications, write scripts, participate in research projects, and teach at the Technical University in Ostrava. Also, I am a member of research boards consulting the PhD. studies at the FBI VŠB-TU Ostrava and PA ČR Prague. Perhaps my biggest achievement is a fifth-place in the World Championship in the Czech Republic in shooting on the target. There is unfortunately not enough time. Yet, I am very happy for my work achievements, much like my Prague projects, both of which are fully completed.

Source: Leaders Magazine - (Pavlína Holancová)


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