Czech Interior Minister meets with mayors from towns in the Šluknov foothills
As of 1 November, the Czech Police have hired 50 new officers to work in the Šluknov foothills. During the half-year to year that it will take to train the new officers, special forces units from other regions will remain on duty in the troubled region and will rotate their deployments. Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice unveiled the plans to journalists today after meeting with local mayors.
The presence of 50 members of police special forces in the region has already cost CZK 40 million since the end of August. Police President Petr Lessy says police have not succeeded in reducing petty crime but have noted a rise in such incidents. "People see more police officers in the streets, so they report even petty thefts to police which they previously would not have," Lessy told journalists.
Kubice's visit to the Šluknov foothills was his second since the start of unrest there at the end of August. The last time he visited the towns of Nový Bor, Rumburk and Varnsdorf was during the large chain of demonstrations convened in those locales on 10 September by the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS). At the time, police intervened against protesters using mounted officers and water cannon.
The unrest in the north of Bohemia started after several attacks which locals blame on Romani perpetrators. Police President Lessy visited the region on 20 October and promised that 50 new police officers would be deployed there in November.
After the attacks that launched the unrest, eight of those 50 special forces members were sent to the town of Nový Bor alone. This irritated other mayors in the region, who complained about Kubice's decision-making in mid-October, claiming he had not kept promises to meet with them on a monthly basis and to maintain police numbers at their current levels. The mayors made their argument using the case of the village of Velký Šenov (population 2 000), where only four police officers remain out of eight originally deployed. After today's meeting, the number of special forces police working in the troubled region should theoretically be clarified and set for good.
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