I am a twenty-year old American, whose father served twenty six years as a police officer. Every day my father would come home with the weight of a dying city on his shoulders. He didn’t like to show how this physical and mental drain affected him, but he couldn’t hide it. It seemed at times that the whole city, even the highest ranking officers and city officials, had turned their backs on the average patrolman. My dad has a shirt which line officers in his department had made, after being inspired during a trip to the Cleveland Police Department, that I always thought was cool. It only has two lines of script separated by a thin blue line, but those three little things inspire a deeper, wider range of emotions than any political or inspirational speech could ever do. The shirt is laid out like this; “Sometimes there is Justice. Sometimes there is Just Us.” I never fully understood the play on words until I was older, but now that I understand, it’s all the more heartbreaking.
Currently I’m abroad in Sofia, Bulgaria interning with an NGO as a way to earn college credit for one of my degrees. Through one of my coworkers I learned of an NGO, the Society and Safety Foundation (SSF), in Sofia that worked on behalf of the police and other emergency services. My father being who he is, I was immediately interested in learning more about the organization. So, I set up an interview with Radostina Yakimova, the director of the SSF. The SSF is the only organization of its kind in Bulgaria. They can truly say “there is Just Us.”
This organization was created in 2014 by members of the Bulgarian Trade Union of the Employees in the Ministry of Interior (TUFEMI). While the SSF stemmed from the Trade Union and the two organizations might share some common goals and work in tandem at times, the SSF and Trade Union are two completely autonomous organizations. The SSF has decided to take on the daunting task of trying to help initiate reforms in the police department, and create better rapport with the public. The general public has the idea that every officer is lazy, fat, incompetent, and corrupt. While this holds true for some, there is a new generation of officers who are trying to fight this stigma. This is where the foundation comes into play.
The SSF has launched The Person Behind the Uniform campaign in an attempt to humanize, and create a more transparent police force. This gives the majority of officers the chance to show that they aren’t dirty cops, who are willing to make a quick buck by turning a blind eye. Additionally, the SSF has started the process of trying to implement a program in Bulgarian schools that would combine the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, which originated in America and is in 44 other nations worldwide, and the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training program. The goals of this program would be to educate school children on the dangers of drugs, how to interact with emergency services, and what to do in times of emergency. These classes would be taught by police officers from the respective cities across Bulgaria, strengthening the relationship between the police and the public.
Unlike some NGOs, the SSF has chosen not to lobby the government as a way to reform the police. The current opinion of the SSF is that the political climate in regards to the police is laughable at best. This ideology adds to the justification that some officers have for accepting bribes. Because of this mentality, the foundation believes that once the police have the support of the people then, and only then, will there be the chance to eradicate the corruption that plagues the country. However, until that time arrives, the SSF will continue to forge strong and healthy relations between Bulgarians and their police.
It is clear from talking with people in Sofia that they believe the police to be a type of public bodyguard for politicians. Talking with representatives of the Sofia police, it is obvious that the majority of patrol officers want an end to the corruption. So, the million dollar question is how to end corruption while showing the public that the police force truly are there to „serve and protect.” My recommendations would be to continue with the public outreach and education programs that the SSF are implementing. This will create the environment of transparency and honesty that the profession needs. The outreach programs are always a good idea, as there can never be enough cooperation between the public and police. Nevertheless, an effort to work with the government needs to be made. These two tasks need to move in tandem as they can help each other. If one fails, then it will exponentially increase the difficulty of an already daunting proposition.
It is here that the SSF runs into its greatest downside; a lack of means. At this moment Ms. Yakimova is the only full time employee of the SSF. There are the occasional volunteers or interns, but on the whole it is only her. As much as she would like to change the facts, Ms. Yakimova only has 24 hours in a day and can only be in one place at a time. In addition to this, the SSF lacks any substantial funding. According to SSF’s annual financial report, the foundation has a budget of 36,000 Bulgarian lev (about €18,406.44 or $20,935.08). According the Virginia Society of Certified Accountants, the average budget for a small NGO in the U.S is $37,500 (about 64,485.07 lev or €32,970.57). Some of the budget goes towards Ms. Yakimova’s salary while the remaining amount of the budget is then spent on administrative costs, literature, and the organization of events.
Due to these shortcomings, the Society and Safety Foundation has little to show, regarding reforms, in its fight against corruption. However, the SSF was awarded the BAPRA Bright Award for Communication Campaign in the Public Sector due to the fact that their multi-media campaign reached over 1 million people worldwide and all of their materials are available here. The SSF hasn’t slowed its advocacy campaign either. Recently the foundation implemented a program in 2017 was called The Cost of Security. This campaign took place from January 23rd to March 31st. The goal of this program was to have eight basic questions about the Ministry of Interior: (1) Why do reforms in the MoI fail?, (2) What does reform in the Ministry of Interior mean?, (3) The Ministry of Interior: The Perfect Bureaucracy, (4) The Security Cost: how much workers’ pay to be on duty?, (5) The inverted pyramid, (6) The professional training and equipment provided, (7) Do the citizens have place in policy – making in MoI?, (8) Strategic solutions: How the reform in the MoI should look like? The results of this program can be found at this web address.
With the right type of support and funding, I believe that the Society and Safety Foundation can usher in a new era of policing in Bulgaria. One that is free from corruption, apathy, and incompetence.
Author: John Carter, student in Capital University, USA, Intern of NGO
Source: NGO Portal, 08 August 2017
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. ”
“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
On 25 and 26 June 2016 a training on the project “Policies on Gender Equality in MoI: what to be?”, financed by the Bulgarian Fund for Women was conducted,
The training was attended by 10 officers of MoI working in different structures – Security Police, Criminal Police and National System 112.
During the training different policies and types of discrimination were presented, policies for gender equality among the officers were discussed and was confirmed they are no such policies and different types of discrimination the employees become victims were identified.
This training will be base for subsequent preparation of proposal to the Minister of Interior for change of policies in the Ministry, regarding internal discrimination and will be used for debate on the criteria for recruitment of men and women in the Ministry of Interior.
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.
His name is Stoyan and he lives in Konstantinovo.
The flood on 16 May 2016 found him with a shopping bag and on the way back home.
He saw that it’s raining, but has not suspected that water can flood the village, and he had never heard anything about flooding.
He understood that something is happening, because of people’s cries. He turned and saw people who are pointing point down to the ravine where there are many houses. He ran and while he was approaching the turbulent water, he saw in his eyes dozens of pictures and memories passed. He remembered Asparukhovo, all dead people, weeping mothers, drowned animals, but mostly he remembered the heavy combat with the water and the moments of frustration. He prayed the water is not so dangerous. He prayed to be able to help.
Down almost to the ravine he saw the grandmother Dimka. She did not shout for help. She was standing on a small island, watched people who gathered on the other side of the water and quietly sobbing. Huddled and bent double, she watched how the water was absorbing everything.
He knew it was a matter of minutes before the water to drag also her.
In this moment, Stoyan tied around his waist one of the ropes that men right next to him were holding and walked through the water. He dragged, but he knew and had experience in dealing with the water. He looked ahead, walked bravely and looked grandmother’s Dimka in her eyes. He was not counting steps and not thinking about the risks, but hurry because he knew that the water swells within seconds and the life of the woman depended on how quickly he will reach her. When he went to the island and caught it, she closed her eyes, said nothing and gripped his hand with indescribable force. She dropped it when she was in a safe place – away from the water.
Today Dimka is cleaning her house while Stoyan is at work. Stoyan is a firefighter, but on 16 May 2016 he had day off. He knows that he is a firefighter and you must carry it in your heart and your blood. He knows that being a firefighter is a calling and to save people’s life is a duty… a duty witout working time!
Each day is different. There are days I’d been shouted. Days when people fainted in my arms. Days when my stripes had been torn and people spat in my face. Days, I’ve heard and seen how the life vanished.
Days like these are not uncommon, but are quickly forgotten, because are followed by the other days. Days like today, when the people robbed grandfather Dancho have been revealed. Days which we cannot forget, because the tearful elderly man brought us, as his gratitude, a basket with apples and told us “Thank you, guys. Thank you, you’ve been here…”.
There are also the other days and they are the worst – days that you know you cannot help and you are powerless. Days when you wished you could prevent a crime or incident. Days that you want the institution you work in is not so unwieldy. Days when you are praying on behalf of the victims’ relatives to survive and justice to prevail. Days in which your are furious and angry. Days you are asking yourself whether it makes sense and do you have the strength to keep doing your job.
In those days, three things are keeping you to move forward: the love you have to the profession, the colleagues and people like grandfather Dancho.
With gratitude to my colleagues and grandfather Dancho
One official at the Ministry of Interior
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. ”
“My husband was forced to learn how to cope alone with stress at the workplace. He did it, because it was the only way to protect us. He did it, because what he knows and happens to him, not only would frightened us, but terrified. Very often I feel the strain of the last day and I know that he was afraid not for himself, but for us. I realized how scared he was few weeks ago when he proposed us to enroll for a course of self-defense. I did not ask questions. I knew that the only way to make him feel comfortable and tranquil for us. ”
“I live with a man who from his an early age dreamed to be a police officer.
A man who is driven by the desire to care and help people.
Today, this young man has many years of experience in the Ministry of Interior .
Every night when I look into his eyes I see the frustration and pain.
Pain, caused by dysfunctional system.
Pain, because of incompetent leaders.
Pain, caused by another meaningless reform.
Pain from exhaustion.
Pain of frustration.
Pain caused by the unfulfilled dream to be a policeman, but the real one!
Every night I fall asleep and I hope the next day will be better.
I hope he will succeed to made his dream come true.
I hope he will be allowed to be a real policeman, and we all will be proud.”
In 2015, 3168 people have left the Ministry of Interior.
More than 2/3 of them are working at field and are at operational positions.
From all employees quit the system 1 is a senior, 466 are managers, 688 of are at executive and 2013 are at junior executive positions.
444 employees (65%) of the 688 people on executive positions and 1345 junior executive position (67%) of total 2013 have ceased their legal relations with the Ministry of Interior in the period October to December 2015.
The number of resigned employees sharply increased in the last quarter of 2015. It is a result of the planned “reforms” in the Law on State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria, provoked unprecedented association of the employees in the Security Sector and spontaneous protests in Bulgaria
At present part of the vacancies are advertised competitions, but due to the long process of selection and training, the deficit created in the Ministry of Interior will not be brought soon under control.
Much of the staff left the system is not only employees working in the field, but also experts who have years of experience. They are not able to pass on their experience. Their work is done by their colleagues who are repeatedly loaded and as a result – ineffective.
Currently it a new amending in the Law on the Interior Ministry is planning, but measures addressing this crisis, tools for improving of the quality of service “civil security” and convert the Interior into an effective institution are not discussed – on the contrary. The new Law is providing reduction of the social rights of the employees, an internal restructuring, creating a state-owned enterprise and the transformation of Fire Safety and Protection of Citizens in Agency, but no one answers the questions how this will enhance the quality of work in the Ministry of Interior and will make citizens more safety and secure?
We all, as citizens and taxpayers, must not only be interested in what happens in the Ministry of Interior, but also actively to participate in the process of its reforming.
We need to ask will these reforms make us feel safer?
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.
Recent years, when we hear Ministry of Interior the associations which come to our minds are “ineffective” and “reform.”We are all aware and conscious of the fact that more and more often, when we witness or become a victim of petty crime we prefer to cover the harm ourselves rather than complicate our lives and alert, to write explanations, to do 5-6 times to the local district and finally, after all these efforts, to understand that we are part of “unsolved crimes”.
At the same time we are also aware that this is an institution that is funded, like all state structures of our taxes, but we as citizens have no control over the policies of this institution. Every year we hear statistics and repors about the increased levels of solved crimes – yes, by 2-3% per year, but it is still growth. At the same time, our life does not change. We do not feel safer or more comfortable for ourselves and our relatives. Our trust in the Ministry of Interior has not increased. We do not believe that if we are robbed, the perpetrator/s will be caught.
We feel that we are caught in a vicious circle from which the exit is impossible, but the Ministry of Interior and the “civil security” service is becoming more expensive and increasingly ineffective.
Using a simple mathematical approach we find that the population in Bulgaria reduced, but the costs of MoI increased in absolute terms and against the backdrop of the missing police in Bulgarian villages. This for Society and Safety Foundation means inefficiency and uncertainty.
Many researchers, representatives of political parties, local government or business will say that this is not so and that theMinistry of Interior is a working institution. And they are right … somewhat.
MoI works despite all political assignments. Despite the lack of vision and strategy for reform. Despite the poor working conditions, shattered patrol cars and missing consumables.
MoI works, because of the people who have remained in this institution. People who love their profession. People who want to be proud of what they work. People who want to serve to the citizens. People who want reform, but a real, long-term and reform which is meeting the needs of bulgarian citizens.
These people need support, because security is our common and shared responsibility and because to be safe and secure about himself and his family, we all must request the Ministry of Interiorto to be reformed in way which we as sovereigns believe it is correct.
It is time to start talking about quality and how to measure the quality in Ministry of Interior.
Much of MoI’s employees are ready. Are you?
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 most important element of the whole process is institutionalized of forms and procedures for citizen participation in reforming the Ministry of Interior. The second crucial component is uniting around the need to prepare a long-term strategy to reform the Ministry of Interior, to be adopted as the Ministry of Interior and civil society organizations and the trade unions.
One of the biggest challenges is how to institutionalize citizen participation, without making structure cumbersome and inefficient. It is therefore necessary to set up an informal group of representatives of NGOs and professional organizations to clarify the parameters of functioning mechanisms for involving citizens and procedures for consultation with government representatives. In this period of advance planning is necessary activities and measures on the one hand to be provided to explore the expectations of citizens for the “security” and to hold public consultations and to what extent the Ministry of Interior can be reformed so that to meet public expectations. It is in the process of preparation and to provide mechanisms through which citizens can participate actively in the process of monitoring the activities of the Ministry of Interior and in making recommendations for improvement. In addition the components of active and broad citizen participation are necessary to provide institutionalized form of citizenship and have the necessary expertise. Therefore, it is necessary to attract two types of organizations: organizations with expertise on the topic “security”, MoI, civic participation and preparation of program documents, as well as organizations that have access to a wide range of citizens. This format will provide on the one hand the necessary expertise will enable the realization of activities on informing and consulting the public and will fill with meaning and content activities institutionalized form of citizenship.
One of the issues that should be discussed is whether such an institutionalized structure is better to be the Council of Ministers or the Ministry of Interior.
The reasons for this to be to the Ministry of Interior are related to the specifics of the activity of this structure, which requires consultation and debate on specific issues relating efficiency of the institution and the quality of provided service “security”. The functioning of institutionalized form of civic participation to the Interior Ministry will provide direct access and opportunity to work with experts of various departments in the Ministry, which will make the process more operational and flexible.
The arguments in favor of the institutionalization of such a structure to the Council of Ministers /CM/ are more – on the one hand, they are related to the need for reform vision and long-term development strategy of the Ministry of Interior be approved and confirmed by representatives of various ministries and agencies whose activities and policies will be directly or indirectly affected by the implementation of the reform in the Ministry. On the other hand, the constitution of this body to the Council of Ministers will ensure its independence from the Ministry of Interior. Representatives of other departments with rank minister or deputy minister, will facilitate the process of adopting the proposals at the level of CM and ensure the adoption of most of the recommendations of this authority. In the long term, the creation of such a structure to CM will allow expanding the scope of activity, interpretation of the “security” in much broader and synchronize visions for development and reform of the judiciary and defense.
Before proceeding with the preparation of long-term strategy the civic and professional organizations, and the representatives of legislative and executive power need to unite around a common vision for the Interior Ministry in the long run. The preparation of a common vision is associated with both study of the attitudes of the public and lobbying and consultations with government officials. The main issues that need to be discussed and be reached a consensual decision, before starting preparation of the strategy are:
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:
Ministry of Interior is the only unreformed Ministry in Bulgaria, but also one of the ministries in which structural changes are the most numerous. One of the major structural changes that contribute the MoI to become a mega-ministry is the closure of Ministry of Emergency Situations and merger it with the MoI /29.07.2009 /. This change is one of the main reasons the scope and functions of the police to be expanded and the number of the employees to be increased as well. The functions for civil protection as nonspecific for MoI, took a very large financial, human and time resources for establishment of a model which ensures that mechanically merged with the Ministry of Interior structures will begin to function as part of the whole Ministry. The stress of merge, which endured as officials closed the MES and MoI, the lack of clear rules of interaction, changed principles of operation and interaction between institutions is extremely large. Shortly before the “merger” of officials from the MES, the MoI- in 2007, was “released” from the National service “Security” and the “protection of the means of communication” and a State Agency “National Security” was established. As a result of structural changes to 2009., the number of MoI’s employees is nearly 68 000 people.
In the period 2009-2014 structural changes continued. In 2013, from the the structure of the Ministry of Interior were removed General Directorate “Combating Organized Crime”/CDCOC/ and Specialized and the “Operational technical operations”/SDOTO/. CDCOC became part of National agency “Security” and SDOTO became the State Agency “Technical Operations” to Council of Ministers. Alongside these structural changes, the names of regional units and departments were changed many times and the number of employees continued the trend for reduction and in 2014 employees in MoI was 49 500.
All these changes were made without the participation of citizens, without an assessment of their impact on the quality of services delivered by the Ministry of Interior, and especially without an assessment of their impact on the employees. This long-standing practice is one of the reasons MoI to become the (auto) oppressive, suspicious, dehumanized, formal and disengagement institution in which the prospect of long-term reform and involving citizens in its implementation is assessed as a threat that must be limited, not as an option which should be used.
Reforms that are realized at the time, as mentioned, are parceled and ineffective. Reforms in the Ministry of Interior needs to be long-term, have consulted with civil and professional organizations, to explain the effect of a change in the life of every citizen and employee in the Ministry of Interior, and are tailored to the needs of the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria.
One of the most important reasons for the need for the involvement of trade unions in this process is the fact that reforming and optimizing the operation of each system is associated with a reduction in the number of employees and reduction of social rights. The main role of trade unions is the reform and streamlining of the activities of the Ministry of Interior does not happen at the expense of employees who are victims of realized until parceled and inefficient structural changes. Namely the trade unions are the ones who will make their contribution to the smooth transition and change in the way the Ministry of Interior, with regard to employees. On the other hand the trade union organizations will be those who will consult in advance the reform proposals will propose the adoption of programs for alternative employment for redundant workers and can take up a large part of the work of retraining, together with non-government organisations. Last but not least, the trade unions will have the responsibility to inform and “exhausting” incurred tension among employees.