Police experience critical lack of staff in Rīga

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Nearly 40% of State Police officers are lacking in Riga, with more than 1,600 vacancies in the service. There has been a shortage of employees for several years and more people have been leaving the police every year. How does the police hope to increase the number of employees and what solution does the Ministry of Interior see? Latvian Television sought the answers November 21.

Low wages, a lot of work, and poor working conditions, the Chief of State Police Armands Ruks listed the reasons for the lack of staff: "We cannot ask a man to be able to be bright, positive, motivated, if his pay is low, the working conditions are terrible in some places, to put it mildly. Then there must be a national will to correct this."

150 cadets have started work this year, more than in previous years, but not enough to cover the number of employees leaving service this year. Employees with great experience and shortly before retirement age also leave the service.

“About half are those who go into a retirement pension. This is due to the fact that the team is aging. If we look back 25 years, there were 12 thousand police officers in the State Police, which is double that it is now. Let us be honest: for them, the difference he receives when he retires is relatively small in pay. And they are people with professional experience, educated, they are the best police officers,” Ruks says.

There is a shortage of 40% of employees in Rīga, nearly 23% in Latvia altogether. There is a smaller shortage in the regions. These statistics are not entirely objective, because they do not reflect the actual capabilities of the police. Police are starting a reform that will reduce the number of vacancies. "Although we currently have 1600 vacancies, we plan to reduce them by around 1000 vacancies. Because we also see that it is not realistic to fill them out, let us be realistic," Ruks said.

Job optimization is planned. One person will be able to react to a call, to take testimony and to initiate the investigation process, without waiting for another colleague. This will require additional training and longer studies. The police are aware that all problems will not be solved. 

“There is not one good answer to this question. It's a set of circumstances. We are talking here about the working environment, stations where employees can stay in safe conditions, adequate remuneration, and a motivating education system. This is the set of circumstances,” said Dimitrijs Trofimovs, State Secretary for the Ministry of Interior.

The State Police budget was EUR 168 million last year. The police believe that it should not only be increased, but the increase was already earned by the police itself. Ruks explains: “We are operating with quite large amounts of police charges made up of fines, that is around 20 million, and in recent years we still have additional funds derived from criminals, which the court has recognized as criminally obtained. And last year they were, after Treasury data, 64 million, after our data even a little more.”

Regarding wages, Ruks said: “The lower level is 730 [euros], and 100 euros extra will not be a solution. But €100 extra will also cost 13 million, for those 6 thousand employed."

The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior expects the new government's declaration to show a willingness to increase investment to strengthen internal security.

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