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Police chief feels no pressure exerted on him by Babiš’s cabinet

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Prague, April 1 (CTK) – Czech Police President Tomas Tuhy does not feel political pressure being exerted on him by Andrej Babis’s ANO government appointed in December, he has told CTK, adding that he has heard speculations concerning his departure but he wants to focus on his work rather than corridor gossip.

The police have a lot of tasks related to national security, and destabilisation is the last thing they need, Tuhy said.

Tuhy was appointed police chief in April 2014, and the last year of his five-year mandate is ahead of him.

He would not say whether he will seek reappointment in 2019.

Babis’s single-party cabinet failed to win parliament’s confidence in January and continues ruling pending the establishment of a new government, on which ANO has been negotiating with the Social Democrats (CSSD).

Tuhy said the current government’s priorities include national security and stabilisation of the security corps, which were also priorities of the previous cabinet of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in 2014-2017.

“I firmly believe that there will be no [government] interferences in the police, mainly the police’s development and financial management,” Tuhy said.

In 2016, Tuhy initiated a merger of the police’s elite national units fighting organised (UOOZ) and financial (UOKFK) crime, a step supported by the CSSD and then interior minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) but sharply opposed by ANO and Babis in his capacity as a deputy PM and finance minister.

Tuhy told CTK he has noticed the media reports about PM Babis’s recent effort to unseat Michal Murin as director of the General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS), but has not registered any similar efforts aimed at himself.

He said unlike Murin’s post, his own one does not fall under the jurisdiction of the prime minister but of Interior Minister Lubomir Metnar, with whom he has agreed on the police corps’ priorities.

It is necessary to continue the programme of rapid reaction patrols and enhance the police units in charge of foreigner issues and the fight against terrorism, extremism, cyber crime and financial and economic crime. The police’s availability all over the country is also important, Tuhy said.

He said he wants to discuss mainly the continuation of the police development plan with the government. Based on the plan, the number of police in the country is to rise by 4,000 to 44,000.

In 2016, the police recruited a total of 850 new officers beyond the annual routine framework of replacements.

Last year, the development plan was suspended, the relevant concept was complemented by a study comparing the situation with that in other countries, and afterwards it was approved by the government again.

“It turned out that our number of police is far from excessive, compared with other European countries,” Tuhy told CTK.

At present, the development plan’s impact on the state budget is being discussed.

The police staff capacity is filled at 96 percent now, with almost 41,500 officers serving in the corps.

Tuhy also wants to discuss investments, including in police stations and motor vehicles, with the government, and also an increase in the pay of police officers and civilian staff.

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