By Stefanos Evripidou
THE police force must restructure and modernise if it is to tackle the “unprecedented challenges” faced today, President Nicos Anastasiades declared last night.
In a speech at the Police Academy’s end-of-year ceremony read by Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, the president said the country and the police force face “unprecedented challenges”, making it imperative to carry out radical changes to adequately respond to those challenges.
“New forms of crime, a multicultural society and the impact of the economic crisis, such as the freeze on recruitment, have completely changed the working environment in which police are called to provide their services,” he said.
In this effort, “the police must restructure, modernise and respond to the increased demands and expectations of citizens for good governance, reliability, meritocracy, transparency and above all, to improve the quality of service provided.”
“We are all obliged to acknowledge mistakes, distortions and inadequacies that troubled us in the decades past and led us to our current plight, seeking big changes to the institutions, and of course, in the police force.”
The police academy plays a key role in this “titanic effort”, he said.
Meanwhile, reports of police transfers yesterday afternoon revealed a major shake-up in the force’s leadership.
According to the reports, head of Nicosia police Kypros Michaelides will take over the Limassol division, replaced in the capital by traffic police chief Demetris Demetriou. The latter’s seat will be occupied by deputy CID chief Yiannakis Charalambous.
Head of audit and control Miltos Miltiadous will take over Paphos police, while head of professional standards Philippos Vrontos will take on the management of Larnaca police.
Former prison governor Giorgos Tryphonides, who drew a lot of negative attention as head of the correctional facility following a number of suicides by inmates, will take over the police academy, while the head of Menoyia detention centre Constantinos Papallas will take over the aviation operations unit.
The shake-up comes three months after new police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou was sworn in, replacing Michalis Papageorgiou who was summarily given the boot following violent protests by far-right outfit ELAM at a talk in Limassol given by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
The president blamed Papageorgiou for the inadequate police force deployed at the venue, which allowed ELAM members to storm the premises.
In response, Papageorgiou claimed he was ousted because he was an honest cop focused only on doing his job rather than catering to political favours, going so far as to accuse the justice minister of personally meddling in promotions and transfers in the police force.
Nicolaou rejected the allegations at the time as “idle gossip”, suggesting it was a case of sour grapes.