Crime prevention assistants from Romani community prove valuable in Czech town
The town of Česká Lípa has hired two more crime prevention assistants, raising the number aiding local patrol officers to four, two men and two women. Thanks to good experience with their work, the local council decided to double their numbers, but while last year the jobs were financed thanks to state subsidies, the expansion of the project will be paid from the municipality's own resources.
Václav Šámal, spokesperson for the local council, informed the Czech News Agency of the decision last week. "The crime prevention assistants have proven their value. The initial pair, Anděla Jirásková and Jiří Cina, have found a way to reach the families who need their aid. They have recorded many improved truants by collaborating with their families, and last but not least the doors of the schools here are always open to them," said Eva Vlastníková of the local police.
The new assistants come from the Romani community as well. "For a month now they have been walking the streets of Česká Lípa and learning from their colleagues. Because the schools are on summer vacation now they are focusing on the issue of high volumes of litter or problems with dog owners," Vlastníková said.
According to Mayor Romana Žatecká (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) the assistants have proven themselves in the streets. "We began the project last autumn after spending a long time looking for appropriate people. Finally we managed to put a high-quality team together who can deal with situations in problematic localities," the mayor said.
The crime prevention pairs are always a man and a woman together. "We want people in these positions who have experience working with Romani people, who have the necessary authority, and who will not abuse their rank," the mayor said.
The main aim of the project is to increase the feeling of safety in the town and to increase trust in the police, especially among the Romani population. The project is also meant to aid the inhabitants of socially excluded localities in making contact with the local administration and social services providers.
"People respect the uniform. If we weren't wearing it when we explain to them that they are not supposed to smoke on the playground, for example, they wouldn't listen to us," noted crime prevention assistant Lukáš Červeňák.
"I am learning to solve problems calmly," said his colleague, Eva Pešlová. Another Romani resident of Česká Lípa, Miroslav Jano, made the news last spring when he objected to the National Socialists-LEV 21 party going into coalition with an ultra-right party for the autumn elections to the Regional Authority and the Senate there.
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