Features

Police Academy KIEV

Misha Friedman

Published on 28/09/15

© Misha Friedman

2,000 new police officers or Patrol Police hit the streets of Kiev in July. Well equipped and dressed in brand new black uni­forms they are meant to show the world the Ukrain­ian government’s inten­tion to cre­ate new police force that can regain people’s trust.

The new Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is scram­bling to cre­ate a new European state on post soviet ground burned by riots and trans­ition and deeply rot­ted by cor­rup­tion. It has to deal with war with Rus­sia in the east, a col­lapsed eco­nomy, entrenched olig­archs, an increas­ingly vocal con­ser­vat­ive nation­al­ist minor­ity and dra­mat­ic­ally dis­cred­ited law enforce­ment. Of all these prob­lems, only the police could be tackled quickly, effect­ively, and pub­licly. It is the closest to people state insti­tu­tion infam­ously riddled with cor­rup­tion. In the post-Soviet period, greed and cor­rup­tion became the militsiya’s dis­tin­guish­ing characteristics

Last Decem­ber Pres­id­ent Petro Poroshenko gran­ted Ukrain­ian cit­izen­ship to then-36-year-old Eka Zguladze-Glucksmann, the former first deputy interior min­is­ter of Geor­gia. There, Zguladze-Glucksmann helped devise essen­tially sim­ilar reforms in 2006–2012. In Ukraine, she was given the title of first deputy interior min­is­ter and the task of cre­at­ing a new police force.

In March a pub­li­city cam­paign called ‘My new police’ was launched. Within a month a newly cre­ated recruit­ing cen­ter had col­lec­ted more than 34,000 applic­a­tions. A series of tests, includ­ing gen­eral assess­ment, fit­ness, and phys­ical exams, a per­son­al­ity test, and an inter­view, win­nowed the pool to just over 2,000 people, more than a quarter of them women.They received 10 weeks of train­ing — roughly half the length of a basic train­ing course received by a police officer in the U.S. The new recruits also received speech and com­mu­nic­a­tion coach­ing. And it needs to feel dif­fer­ent — so the space in which the pub­lic comes in con­tact with the police must be reimagined.

The new reform looks both bold and con­fus­ing as its goal isn’t just to rebuild an insti­tu­tion, but to cre­ate an ideal European coun­try. Even if send­ing two thou­sands of under­trained and nervous young men and women in Amer­ican police uni­forms, patrolling the streets of Kiev might bring up some unwanted asso­ci­ations with one fam­ous goofy com­edy movie. If they sur­vive and suc­ceed, the Ukrain­ian state might too.

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