If any government had been replaced it always brought ad hoc and politically motivated changes. These changes are quite often and the main reason for the occupational stress and insecurity about their jobs among police officers, firefighters, rescuers and all workers in Ministry ot Interior. It has been said that ” … the main reason for the collapse of the system is that it must be depoliticizedbut is highly politicized. When the governmental shifts starts they are looking for gaps and even holes in the MoI which aim is certain superiors to be fired, but in the center of the gunfight are the regular workers – these who are working in the field. We are police officers, firefighters and rescuere of all people, not one or another political party. The political dependance of the superior executives is the reason all principles of good governance to be changed and the image and competence of the management to be ruined. The feeling of the employees is that recent years, the management staff’s recruitement is based not on the skills and knowledge, but on cpolitical protection. “There is a sort of aristocraty in the system- has been said – people in high positions, who are perceived as untouchable”. Overall feeling is that it makes no sense to have a political governing in de-politicized structures as the army and the police, because this method of governing is only delegitimize the Ministry of Interior as an institution and police officers as workers who are serving the people.”
* Study of the factors causing stress among employees in MoI in Bulgaria
When we are calling on 112?
When the situation requires URGENT intervention of the emergency services (fire brigade, police, emergency, civil protection) and a team have to be sent at the accident.
How to report a sygnal on phone 112?
1. As soon as you have contact with the operator on 112 you have to specify the village, city or town you are calling from. If you are not in village, city or town, you have to describe its geographical location by landmarks – roud, river, mountain etc.
2. Formulate briefly the reason for your call – whether it concerns medical incident or another – flood, fire, etc.
3. Listen carefully the questions of the operator and succinctly respond to them. If necessary, wait to be connected with the service – ambulance, police, fire and more. It is important to be known that this communication with an operator lasts between 1 to 3 min. During the conversation the most accurate information have to be provided about wthe intsident.
I have two children who were 4 and 7 years old when I applied for a job in the 112 Emergency line in Bulgaria. While I was passing all phases of the recruitment I worried and was sure I will not be approved for this position. I thought that my children are too small and it will be the cause for my rejection. I was not sure whether I am suitable for the job. I did not know if I’m good enough. I was worried because I did not know the system and what is the responsibility to work as an operator in 112 Emergency line. I was afraid because I knew that lives depend on the seconds in which you are judging and evaluating the severity of the situation. The lives of someone’s mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children depend on how quickly you are processing the signal. The lives who are depending on your judgment and professionalism. Today, nine years later, I am thankful to my husband, who saw the ad and gave me the courage by telling me that I will handle it. Today, I am thankful to my work as operator in 112 Emergency line, because I realized that life is much more valuable than I thought, and I contribute each day so many lives to be saved.
In 2015, 4,686,390 emergency calls are accepted and only 1,987,576 are real.
Who is responsible for the unreal signals received?
Who educates the citizens?
Who and how impose sanctions for the unreal signals?
Who measures the potential risk to the citizens? The debate on the reform of the Ministry of Interior includes the National System 112 and it’s time to talk about the responsibility that families and all institutions have for the unreal signals.
My father was a firefighter. I was seeing him at home tired and smelled of smoke after each shift. The smell of smoke is one of those you can not erase not only from yout skin, but mind. It is sealed in your mind on the same way how you can recognize the scent of people you love. After work, he set on the couch, hugged me and I interviewed him about the difficulties he encountered, but he never talked about them. He spoke about the rescued people and each time he told me that heroism is not measured in difficulties you overcome, but human lives you saved. Still there, on the couch, I decided I wanted to be a firefighter and to become a hero – same as my Dad.
“I was born in a village which lies on the Border. I grew up seeing every day the Border fence and people on the other side. My grandfather told me stories about the Borders. He told me everything about my country, culture, values. He told me a long time ago we were one nation and lived together. He showed me maps and put me to sleep with tales about the Border. I did not understand it, but I knew he was right. I did not fully understand why I had not to went to the other side, but I respected his instruction. Few years later my grandfather became ill and shortly before he died he said “The border is not to get you away from others, but to put you closer to your own people. By keeping the border, you are keeping your family, community, country. Keep your borders and respect the foreign ones.” This was not only the time I realized what the Border is, but the moment I chose to keep it. That was the moment I decided to become a border policeman.
Today and each single day I go to work, knowing what “Neither step back, behind us is Bulgaria” exactly means.
“I am a father and teach my son to be proud of and respect not only me as a police officer, but to respect the all people in uniforms. I teach him to respect not only the police, firefighters and rescuers, but also doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges, welders, drivers in public transport and all people, because we are part of a common society and a country – Bulgaria, and whether we honor and respect the work ot all these people depends in what country we will live in. ”
“I am a mother and my daughter is very proud that I’m a police woman. She knows that I look out not only for her safety and security, but also for her friends in kindergarten. What she doesn’t known is that I am dreaming for the day when the system will be changed and it will not be so bureaucratic. She doesn’t know I am dreaming of the day when not only my family but all citizens will be proud of their police. I believe that day will come. ”
“Do you know, we all Bulgarians, are sad people. We taunt the police, sing humiliating songs about police officers, spit it out and caricature the system, and when we are in trouble precisely the police officer is the only one who can help and immediately we are changing the attitudes and from “crucify him/her/” it is chanted again on “hosanna” while he/she – the humiliated, just wants to be useful and to help.
The saddest thing is that I feel proud of my profession only when people are suffering. The pride and the suffer in our case are synonymous. People think about you as professional, honour, and person called to serve only when there are casualties and are scared.
I’d like people to give me some bragging rights in the better days when they feel safe and secure, because these are days I work for. I want to be proud of my job in those days, when the pain and suffering are the exception rather than rule.
Do you know, some time ago this situation was cynical, but now it is sad and hopeless. It is sad, that people recognize me as a police officer only if they suffer. And it’s not just sad… it is lonely as well! “
“Unlike many of my colleagues, no one in my family was not a policeman, but I made this choice, because of my father.
My father creates and sculpts figures and whole life is giving life to the tree. He wanted to see peculiar for his work – he wanted his son to keep, what he and those around him were created and principles that were followed by him so many years. My father wanted to see her son in uniform, because he believed to keep people is the duty of every person, and through he was going to fulfill our family debt to society.
My father wanted I to become a policeman, not only because for him it was a great honor, but because he believes that to keep and cherish the security of the homeland is a duty. In the day when I put the uniform for the first time I felt how heavy is the responsibility I took, but I felt also pride which filled my lungs.
Pride, caused by the duty that you have and the principles you follow.
Pride, which I am feeling each time when I see a person on whom I helped and the pride that I am seeing in the eyes of their relatives.
Pride, born of love for the profession, because for me to be a policeman means to live with dignity, honor and to keep helping people.
Pride, born by choice I’d make as a sign of love – from son to the father, which became the one and only right choice for me. ”
Photo: Antonio Hadjihristov
Quite offten we can see firefighters who are fighting the firestorm and stand against it alone, but surounded by at least two or three fire trucks.
Have you ever wondered what is due to the fact that the number of firefighters is equal to the number of firefighting vehicles?
The one reason is that firefighters are few and insufficient.
The other reason is much more terrible and caused by regulatory gaps and the lack of a defined minimum number of firefighters in the team. The acceptance of a minimum number of firefighters in the team is postponed till August 2017.
In this same regulation it is precised that in indoor’ accidents, the team of firefighter and driver / most common practice / must wait for another team before entering the burning building. This puts the first team /firefighter and the driver/ in in deadlock: to get help to the victims or to wait for help, about 15-20 minutes in the big cities and much longer in small where help can come only from the distanced towns. The exception rather than practice is three or four firefighters to be on shift and this is the number of all firefighters on shift in some major cities.
In small towns the situation is much worse.
The next time you see firefighters standing in front of a burning building who are not entering to extinguish the fire, please do not be angry at them, but the system which allows this to happen.
The next time when you hear about the injured firefighter, remember that very often it happened, because at the signal responded two firefighters – one entered alone in the burning building, because other had to stand outside and to ensure him a water. There is not a third.
Photographer: Silva Toneva
A few months ago I was out playing basketball with my children when the ball rolled into the street. I went to it, but suddenly the laugh of my children disappeared and they froze. They saw two patrol cars on the corner. The vehicles turned and were moving slowly towards our house. Then my 7 year old son turned to me and asked: “Mom, is everything with Dad, ok?”. My heart also flinched at the sight of a patrol car, but it was not as painful as watching the tears in the eyes of my son. And then I realized that my children have their own concerns about the profession of my husband. While the cars were coming slowly, I felt how time stopped. Things changed when one of the officers smiled and waved his hand to the children. Children ran up to me and shook heavily waist. I hugged and kissed them while I was ensuring them their dad is ok and we could call him, just to hear his voice.
Then I thought that while we are recognizing those who are working in law enforcement structures as heroes and are proud of them, there is a small population of characters whose voice is often not heard. These little characters are children in the communities the police.
If you ask, any child of an employee in law enforcement structures, it will tell you that mom or dad is the biggest hero. They know that in this work, bad gays are trapped and their mom or dad make the world a better place.
You’ll see these children to play policemen with their water guns. They are the ones with the good and courageous mom and dad and are proud to have them as parents, but the little heroes are worrying about them.
I found that my children are worried not only about the safety of their parents, but for all who are working in the system. They see many of them as best friends’ parent or theirs’ mom or dad best friend.
Our children face many prejudices. Several times I have seen my son came home upset by another child who as soon as understood his father is a police officer, said that all police officers are bad. Too many times I’ve been out with them when I have seen parents who treat their children with the police officers.
Unfortunately, most children are terrified of the police, but there is no child of a police officer who can understand it, because they see them as a defender not as treat. They see him/her as someone who helps. They see her/his as their mother or father.
It’s good to know our children. They are the ones who make sacrifices in Christmas mornings in which their father or mother is missing due to work. They are the ones whose birthday parties, school plays and recitals have been missed from mom or dad, because they were at work.
Make sure you thank them for their sacrifice and you will found time to listen, because you can learn a lot from them.
Your children also have duty and it is daily. They struggle with prejudice, overcome worries about you, convince people that you’re the best, support friends whose parents are also police officers and the only thing they want is to be well and to back home after works safe and secure.
On 23 and 24 April 2016 in Bansko, a workshop was held which aim was to determine a “Society and Safety” Foundation’s priorities until December 2017.
The workshop is financed by Trade Union Federation of the Employees in the Ministry of Interior and is a part of realisation of the project “MoI’s employees and the citizens – partnership for security”.
The workshop was attended by members of the Trade Union Federation of the Employees in the Ministry of Interior Ministry, representatives of non-governmental organizations the Foundation worked successfully last year with and the academic community.
The main challenge which was identified by the participants in the workshop was the administrative and organizational strengthening and development of the Foundation.
The priority areas for development and work by the end of 2017 are related to the improving of the employees in the Ministry of Interior’s image and increasing citizens’ confidence in them, working with children and young people and developing of a strategy for improving the quality of”security” service supported not only by political parties, but also employers, non-governmental organizations, academic community and state institutions.
Terrorism threatens a society by instilling fear and helplessness in its citizens. It seeks to hold a society or government hostage by fear of destruction and harm.
When terrorist acts occur, people generally look for ways to cope with the acute stress and trauma. Terrorism evokes a fundamental fear of helplessness. The violent actions are random, unprovoked and intentional, and often are targeted at defenseless citizens. Trying to cope with the irrational information that is beyond normal comprehension can set off a chain of psychological events culminating in feelings of fear, helplessness, vulnerability and grief.
Xenophobia — fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners — can be heightened under a terrorist threat and can become a social and psychological danger. The fear generated by terrorism can be exacerbated by a population’s diversity if there is distrust between groups, categories and classification of citizens. It is important to recognize that diversity in a population can be an opportunity for unity and strength. There are members of our diverse society who have experienced past terrorist incidents. The knowledge and experience they have gained from surviving and coping with these incidents can make them a valuable resource on how to cope and how to offer assistance to others.
After a terrorist attack, many people are impacted. People who have experienced the trauma often fall into the following categories:
People who have experienced or witnessed a terrorist attack may go into a state of acute stress reaction. You may feel one or all of these symptoms:
If you are having trouble coping with the terrorist attacks, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. There are many ways to feel traumatized by terrorist incidents. Psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals are trained to help people cope and take positive steps toward managing their feelings and behaviors.
“My husband is devoted to his profession – he is burning in it and is giving everything to do his job in the best possible way.
It hurts when in the evening he comes back at home and I see his pain and frustration. I can feel it with every part of myself; commitment that is rewarded with disrespect and is paid with a part of himself. It hurts me because people do not know how much efforts are needed to do the work and how severe the fight is. A fight with a lack of supplies, with limited powers, with humiliation from the Ministry of Interior and the ingratitude of people.
I understand people!
They have the right to be unsatisfied, but I live with this person and can see whathe is doing each day and how big his fight is. I would like, before people start to accuse and criticize officials in the Ministry of Interior, including my husband, people to thing, what is the price which workers pay and we – the people standing right next to them. ”
Society and Safety Foundation is one of the few civil organizations in Bulgaria which puts as a priority on its activities the improvement of the “civil security” service provided by the Ministry of Interior, which is directly linked with the improvement of the quality of work and working conditions in the MoI’s system.
Regarding the Minister Buchvarova speaking at the press conference in the Council of Ministers on 13.01.2016 we are obliged to express our official statement.
Mrs Buchvarova, at the press conference on 13.01.2016 you said, quote:
“Therefore any further attemptс MoI to be criticized on this way – with insults, ridiculous allegations false information – typical “cop numbers” will be perceived as an attack on public and national security.”
Please explain on which point from art. 4 of the Act of the State Agency for National Security you relate the criticism to the Ministry of Interior.
You are absolutely right that “insults, ridiculous allegations, false information” can not serve as a constructive public dialogue on the subject, but only the court may classify the criticisms of the Ministry of Interior as such.
You have no legal right to do so.
In this sense, the position you express can be perceived as restricting freedom of speech, which is protected by Art. 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. May or may not representatives of the media to criticize the Ministry of Interior? May or may not civil organizations to criticize the work of the Ministry?
In another part of your speech, you said:
“Reforms are on my computer. How can you comment on something you have not seen.”
The logical question comes, why the reforms stay on your computer and are not published for public discussion? At organised by us roundtable on 18 December 2015, we appealed for reform which takes into account the interests of citizens and ministry’s employees. We appealed for greater transparency in the management of MoI’s budget which is over 1 billion lev – all taxpayers’ money. The reform in the Ministry of Interior can be done only with broad public support and obvious action taken in the citizens’ interest. Don’t you support this position, Mrs. Buchvarova?
We would not focus superfluous attention to other parts of your statement that aren’t less questionable and are not meeting the legal framework of your position. We will notice that the Ministry of Interior cannot have “priority groups”, as it would be contrary to Art. 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Society and Safety Foundation does not accept the idea of unilateral decisions that affect the whole Bulgarian society. We openly oppose to any attempt for freedom of speech’s limitation and each reform the Ministry of Interior, which is not based on detailed research in the Ministry and after public debate on the issue.
And we say “Enough!”
Enough parceled reforms.
Enough savings to fill the budget for the next 12 months without long-term vision.
Enough reformes without at least elementary form of analysis within the ministry.
Foundation “Society and Security” calls for transparency and would support each initiative in this direction, but any reform that does not meet the needs of citizens and employees cannot receive our support.
In the first part of the series “The person behind the uniform” we are introducing you Ivo – a firefighter in Varna, beloved husband and father. The series will meet you with law enforcement officers across the country.
MoI officers and representatives of civil society participated in the process of identification of approaches came to a basic conclusion: before a vision and develop a strategy for long-term reform to be created it is necessarily a broad public discussion with representatives of NGOs, professional and trade union organizations to be conducted.
MoI 2030 – one point of view and one possible approach:
The one approach to reform of the Ministry of Interior if we are not thinking about structural change is to consider the reform as a desired effect on the staff, to identify necessary organizational change to ensure a high quality of service “security” and to ensure better and more efficient service to citizens. In this case, it is necessary to apply a tactical approach, which is based on a pre-identified problems, which need to be solved. If this approach to reform is selected, it is necessary the measures in 2030 to ensure the achievement of the following results:
To the citizens of Republic of Bulgaria:
Improved interaction between MI and institutions from other key sectors such as health facilities, social services, prosecution and court to establish a new approach and allow the application of the principle of “case management”. This approach will reduce the time limits for citizens and increase the effectiveness of the “security”.
To the employees:
To the system:
Ministry of Interior in 2030 – Another point of view and the second possible approach:
The second possible approach that was identified is strategic and it is connected with the union about the role and functions that MoI have to implement and is based on the assumption that the main function of the Ministry of Interior and the main objective of the Police department is to protect public order and internal Security. If starting from this understanding, it is necessary when talking about reform and the vision of the Ministry of Interior in 2030, to achieve the following results:
The main issue which united representatives of trade unions, professional organizations and NGOs in terms of public order and security, is that the “security” service provided to citizens, is not effective and does not meet their needs. The discussion about the parameters and expectations of what should the service be has not taken place – as citizens, and with trade unions and professional organizations. Reasons for the lack of discussion about MoI are many but the main ones are:
That is why the police system becomes more rigid, more encapsulated and sacrifice more cruel its employees. This is happening on a background of permanent reduction of the quality of “security” service and increased number of unsatisfied from the MoI’s work citizens to whom is said they are complaining are reasonless and exist only because they do not understand “the complex matter of security.”
Rigidity of the system is due to many reasons, some of which are:
To increase citizens’ awareness that the quality of security service depends on their actions and attitudes.
To create effective institutionalized model that ensures the participation of citizens in the reform of the Ministry of Interior and the institutions that provide the security service.
To change attitudes of citizens towards the Ministry of Interior officials and create a partnership based on a mutual trust.
To create social infrastructure at local, regional and national level, allowing communication and partnership between citizens, MoI officers and representatives of stakeholders for the preparation and monitoring of local strategies for security service.
To establish a successful model by which employees who have left the system in the Ministry of Interior to transmit and share their knowledge and skills.
Society and Safety Foundation seeks to change the meaning and content of the concept of “security” and to raise the awareness of security as a basic need, which if not satisfied prevents personal development. Through our activities we want to encourage the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria to participate actively in the process of reforming the Ministry of Interior and the definition of the security service and to identify institutions which are its suppliers.
The security is not only a basic human need, but also one of the deepest aspirations enshrined in us. Ambition and desire for safety when we are at work, in public or when we are at home. Security can be viewed a much broader: striving for financial security, security in terms of our life and health, the health of our relatives, our work, our social position.
THE “CIVIL SECURITY” SERVICE
At present, there is no clear definition of the scope of the “Security”, the formation of the main components and mechanism of interaction between the institutions which are responsible for the quality of this service. Common understanding of ‘security’ to prevent external aggression and maintain public order in the country, thus ensuring its usually identified with some of the functions of the state. In other words, the creation and maintenance of security can be defined as a common public good, service that is used by all and for it is characteristic absence of competition in consumption, which is why its implementation is financed with part of the taxes of the population (budget of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence). Moreover, her negatives of all the non-market sector – inability to accurately measure received and paid, the absence of competition, hence comparability and choice, and presumably low efficiency. Meanwhile, the “National Security Strategy” of the Republic of Bulgaria refers to “adapt to the changing security environment” which “imposes new prioritization of security policy, the inclusion of overall institutional potential of society, applying new forms of interaction between the state, business and NGOs, such as public-private partnership. ”
“Extending of the social scope of the security policy poses new challenges for institutional coordination horizontal and vertical hierarchical relations management. Planned pooling of resources of the security sector and change the definition of the “security” requires taking concrete action not only by individual institutions and structures of civil society, but also of every citizen, which is one of the largest chalenges- citizens to realize that the quality of the “security” is defined by their action or inaction.
To be the “security” adequate to the needs and expectations of citizens is first necessary to identify their expectations and understanding of what constitutes the “security” – something which, although developed strategies and other program documents in this field is not made. Lack of clarity about the expectations of citizens, creating the basic prerequisite for overall dissatisfaction with the “security” as:
Security as defined in the National Security Strategy is a broad and public order and security are only one of it’s components.
The main priorities of the National Security Strategy and defined as vital interests are: • ensuring the rights, freedoms, security and welfare of the citizens, society and the state;
So formulated priorities cover all socio-economic sectors and require coordinated and common efforts of all countries to promote the “security”, quality and possibilities for its optimization and implementation of subsequent monitoring and control by its users.
It is essential that the institutions and their structural units, the civil society and citizens to begin to act as integrated components of the national security system. To begin this process is necessary before this dialogue to take place and create a partnership between civil society organizations, the private sector, state and local institutions what suggests the “security” and how it can improve its quality.
Our mission is to transform the Ministry of Interior and to be a transparent and open institution which is taking into consideration the real needs of the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria while is providing a high quality of security service.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOCIETY AND SAFETY FOUNDATION?
The founders of the Society and Safety Foundation,
PERSUADED that the Bulgarian society needs a serious discussion and more information about security and safety issues, the role of law enforcement in the prevention and detection of crimes, the need to analyze and change our attitudes and behavior in different emergencies and our active participation in the process of decision-making and policy-making regarding our security and safety,
MOTIVATED by the need of employees in law enforcement institutions to be involved and to participate actively in civic initiatives and the need to increase their knowledge and skills to work with civil society,
BELIEVING that providing security and safety for all can be achieved mainly through more education, training and motivation of the people to participate and improve the security service,
UNDERSTANDING the security service as guaranteeing the rights, freedoms, security and welfare of all citizens, society and the state,
CONVINCED that in the definition of the “security” must be involved citizens, employees in the Security Sector, institutions and social service providers and the work for improvement of its quality to in partnership with them,
ASSUMING that not the state institutions, but civil society organizations have a leading role in this to make people active, to identify problems in the security sector and to request changes which will improve both- the Security Sector and every citizen’s protection,
RESOLVED to work to bring different sectors and social groups together, to increase security and safety of citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria and asking all who are sharing our ideals, to join our efforts,
It was founded the Society and Safety Foundation by Trade Union Federation of the Employees in the Ministry of Interior as organization in public interest.