Police take 40 minutes to respond to call; eyewitness outraged

Police took 40 minutes to respond to a call regarding a child fight that took place in Rīga, Mežciems, near a school. Those involved in the fight had already managed to leave, an eyewitness told Latvian Radio January 17.

The eyewitness said that at around 2 PM on Tuesday, January 16, in Mežciems, near the intersection of Biķernieku and Hipokrāta Street, he had seen several of the roughly grade 4-5 children fighting, more specifically one kicking a another who'd been tossed to the ground on his back while the others stood by and watched.

The eyewitness observed it while driving in a car. He then approached the young people and called the police, but he did not want to separate them himself. The boys later went away by bus. Throughout that time, the eyewitness repeatedly contacted police, which responded that the team was on its way. Law enforcement officers arrived just 40 minutes after the call.

The eyewitness Gints Kauniste had got education at the Police Academy years ago, and later also worked as an assistant teacher. He told her that photos of the brawl had been handed over to police, but he was shocked police did not start searching for the children.

“No steps, as I was told, will be taken. Quite without explanation. Although Section 54 of the Administration Structure Law Act says that authorities work together to do their functions. Why doesn't that happen? Why doesn't the State Police do this? Why don't they turn to the municipal police, the Child Offense Prevention Unit? I think it's not good governance. They are not doing what this regulation obliges us to do for the safety of all of us. They were late [to arrive] when there is information that someone is beat up. They can't take that long. The second is that they do not take any further steps. That's what I could describe as indifference,” Gints said.

Furthermore, the children's rights protection law provides that each person has a duty to notify the police, Child Protection Center, Orphan's Court or Social Service without delay, if there are suspicions or circumstances that may endanger the life or health of the child.

Asking the State Police, Latvian Radio found that the law enforcement officers took 44 minutes to arrive. Police spokeswoman Gita Gžibovska said that “it took longer than usual for police to arrive, given that there was snowfall on Tuesday, which made it noticeably difficult for traffic and for any driver, not just police, to navigate the streets of the city, as well as there was a particularly high number of calls.”

“Police at the scene have accepted a photograph of children who have been at the scene from the caller and are paying heightened attention to areas where minors could gather. No resident whose child may have suffered in this brawl has approached police at this time,” Gžibovska said. She acknowledged that police had to arrive at this type of call within 25 minutes.

Near the fight mentioned is Riga High School 89 and Mežciems Secondary School. Riga City Council said no one in these schools has approached about this conflict; accordingly, the City Council has no opinion on the fight. At the same time, the City Council is calling for this type of incident to be reported to schools. Victims and eyewitnesses of the event could also do so.

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