President of Latvia: Police and firefighters have been long neglected

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The rooms in which officials from the State Police and the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) work are not acceptable, said the President of State, Egils Levits, after a visit to both services. The president promised to emphasize the issue of the working environment, Latvian Television reported on February 27.

Levits visited the Rīga State Police station. Floor coverings are worn, and electrical cords are bare. Levits had questions not only about the premises but also about the workforce. The station has 128 posts and only 87 are filled.

A large number of vacancies, just like the unrepaired spaces, is already a long-standing problem. 

Looking at the State Fire and Rescue Service depo, the president pointed to similar problems as the State Police: low wages and poor working conditions. The firefighter, starting service, receives only a little over €600 a month on hand. 

It hasn't always been that way. In 2017, for example, wages were even slightly above the average, and only less than 4% of firefighters were lacking. Now, with a 35% pay gap, 12% of rescuer positions are vacant.

The President agreed with the heads of services, stating that the home affairs services should be placed in a higher position on the priority list. It was promised to talk about in the government.

“They optimize everything they can to optimize. But there's a line somewhere. [..] Since 2014, we developed our National Armed Forces – external security – but internal security was actually neglected. And now I think that this priority will be taken into account more than it has been before,” Levits said.

The services are aware that it is not up to the President to grant funding, but his support is appreciated.

“It is pleasing that he stands on our side and understands our problems and needs,” said Armands Ruks, chief of the State Police.

 

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