Ministry looking to train assistant policemen in the army

Tiina Kaukvere
, reporter
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Photo: Elmo Riig / Sakala

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has made a proposal to the defense ministry to consider complementing basic training of conscripts with a course for assistant police officers.

Estonia currently has around 1,000 assistant policemen, while more than 3,000 people are conscripted into the Defense Forces each year.

"We want to analyze the possibility of adding a protection of law and order component into basic training, proceeding from the government's internal security development plan. It would resemble current training for assistant police officers,” said interior ministry press adviser Toomas Viks.

He added that should the idea materialize in the law and order component either partly or completely mirroring training for assistant police officers, conscripts could work as assistant police officers upon completion of conscript service.

Adviser at the interior ministry's protection of law and order and criminal policy department Elmar Veldre added that how the idea will manifest and what it will mean in terms of expenses and time frame requires further analysis.

The assistant officers training course spans 40 hours and includes such elements as bases of law, involvement of assistant police officers, administrative proceedings and measures, prevention and supervision, protection of children, activity at the scene, communication with persons, direct coercion and special preparation, first aid, radio communications.

Veldre said that no one will be turned into an assistant police officer automatically as people have to volunteer first. “We would make it easier to become an assistant officer,” he said.

The ministry finds that the government's internal security development plan aims to have all citizens contribute to ensuring safety, in addition to the police and rescue services. Most people currently see it as a police and rescue matter, even though numerous security-related problems cannot be solved by state agencies alone.

The development plan spans until 2020. “It is possible that this period will see the first class of conscripts who have also undergone law and order training,” Veldre added.

“Whether planned additional training would fit into the basic training of conscripts, and how, needs to be analyzed in cooperation with the interior ministry. The Ministry of Defense cannot currently speak to the sensibility or feasibility of such a change; it should be determined in cooperation,” said the ministry's press representative Andres Sang.

Postimees recently wrote how the defense ministry is in turn working on a draft act that would allow military police to exercise traffic supervision and carry out primary procedural acts.

Defense Forces training usually takes place in areas where the presence of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is modest as traffic is scarce. This causes some drivers to knowingly ignore the rules of the road. These areas have military police, however, that could theoretically enforce traffic law.

Another problem the army has faced is people who disrupt trainings or place participants in danger – follow Defense Forces vehicles, drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, ignore traffic rules. The third pain spot concerns infractions by Defense Forces employees or officials, conscripts, or other persons involved in military training.