End of highway patrol?
Government officials call it a shake-up, but members of Portugals GNR police services have termed a ministerial study ordering the closure of four law enforcement departments, including the BT traffic patrol, a revolution and one that will affect the efficiency of officers. In the meantime, the same study, which was ordered by the Home Ministry, has also called for the closure of half of PSP polices district headquarters.
The extinction of the GNR BT traffic department and Fiscal Brigade, along with the closure of the GNR Cavalry and Infantry, has been ordered in a government-sponsored study looking to rationalise law enforcement services.
Should the studys recommendations be accepted by the apparently cashstrapped Home Affairs Ministry, not only will the GNR be stripped of its diversity, but it will also lose its regional headquarters.
The study explains the end of GNR departments such as specific highway patrols (BT or Brigada de Trnsito) will not only result in cost reductions, but also boost the efficiency of the GNR.
With the renovation of the GNR, officers will be required to be more versatile as they no longer will be confined to specific areas of operation.
It is estimated that as many 23,000 GNR officers will be affected by these proposed changes.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the GNR Workers Association, Jos Manageiro, believes the end of the traffic police and fiscal brigade could affect the effectiveness of police as their increased versatility will reduce their effectiveness in cased-specific situations.
He explained: You cannot expect an officer to rush to the assistance of an old lady, then to fine her later for committing a traffic offence, only to discover she has outstanding taxes.
However, the Secretary-General of the GNR Safety Command, Leonel Carvalho, admits the proposed changes are more a revolution than a renovation, though saying he did agree in principal with the findings of the study.
In a related story, and as a result of the same study, it has also emerged that six of the PSP city polices 12 command centres have also been recommended for closure.