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Jūrmala police protest against chief; could resign en masse

A fifth of Jūrmala Municipal police law enforcement officers have signed a letter to the council protesting against their superiors and threatening to leave the job en masse, Latvian Radio reported July 28.

The Jūrmala Municipal Police employs around 200 staff. This year 14 officers have left the service, but a few days after the drowning of a seven-year-old child, 11 out of 14 lifeguards filed resignations in mid-July.

38 or a fifth of all local officers have written a letter to the city council, threatening to leave their jobs if the council does not get involved in the management of the local police. The seven-page letter devotes lengthy claims against the current chief of police, Uldis Bēniņš. Employees complain about being short-staffed, not being paid for overtime, not being able to go on vacation, 'pointless penalties', uniforms, their car fleet, and other issues. 

Executive director of the Jūrmala municipality, Edgars Stobovs, disagrees with the accusations against Bēniņš. “I don't think it's a crisis. There are some local government officers who want to work in their old ways, but are not prepared to respect work discipline.” [...] “I am more inclined to the fact that the head of the local police is in the right. (…) he has confirmed that he will be able to provide police work with existing resources,” Stobovs said.

Andrejs Morozovs (Harmony), Chairman of the Security Committee of the Jūrmala City Council, is concerned about the claims mentioned in the letter.

“The resort city cannot remain without lifeguards, I believe we have to deal with this problem,” he said.

The City Council plans to assess the critical situation over the next two weeks in working groups and committees, awaiting the police chief Bēniņš who is currently on vacation. Armands Augustins, head of the Latvian Internal Affairs Workers' Union, said that Jurmala law enforcement has not turned to help, and the union would first wait to see if problems will be solved internally, as the police themselves have planned.

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