Vetting in the State Police to separate the innocent from the guilty

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s speech at the meeting with heads of the State Police:

 

Good morning everyone!

This is not the first time I’ve been here when the storm in the cauldron of politics and media rises above the heads of the police employees. I see here familiar faces from previous meetings. I see also new faces. I believe that today is the right day, given the 9-month results overview, to raise some issues to your attention and to the attention of the public.

I’ve felt really well by the results obtained so far this year, but I feel sorry to see and understand that beyond the results, we are dealing with a situation in which the State Police faces an unacceptable situation internally and externally with an unacceptable rave of mud, accusations and efforts that aim not only to what is publicly and politically said, – I’m not here to talk about them – but also to the demotivation of the State Police.

We did not have to invent it, as it was invented by others before us in countries that have gone through these stages, – the simple truth, or more exactly the simple expression of truth that politics with crime supports crime.

Today, crime finds support precisely in politics with crime.

It’s not something new, but it’s one of those culminating moments of politics with crime and of the exploitation of crime to make politics, regardless of the direct consequences that this policy has, first of all in the psychology of the blue uniforms and obviously even in the community of average people who expect service and security from the State Police.

The State Police has been the most attacked institution in the Republic of Albania for four years now.

Simply for a fact-based statistic, a few days ago I asked the media people in the Prime Ministry to make a research throughout the history of free Albanian media and see the indicators about political and media attitudes towards the State Police. I wasn’t surprised, however, although I was clear about this perception, the ratio of political and media attacks to the State Police in these four years, compared to the previous period, is 10 to 1.

What has happened, in fact, in these 4 years?

Why has this constant attack started, since the beginning of the attempt to rebuild the State Police found in the ruins of a total abandonment, at all levels? I don’t think that much intelligence is needed to answer that question. What has happened?

Why is it that every day, usually, in the morning and at dinner, the State Police has constantly been a target of mud, accusations and insults? Many things have happened, but I’ll tell you one.

So far, being October of this year not over yet, the State Police has seized 35 million euros from the hands of criminal networks. A total of 47 million euros was in the hands of crime by the end of last year. Meanwhile, they weren’t even 1 million euros in 2013. Does it need any comment?

Is there any special wisdom and insight required to understand that in these 4 years the State Police has started a clear split with many interests and many influences that year after year transformed it into an organization without any legal certainty for executives and its employees, an organization with a ridiculous financial support, an organization with no support to renewable human resources?

The Police Academy opened only 3 years ago. We cannot wait for the first graduates to become part of the organization next year. Until 2013, police officers used to come from the parties. Police, like all other state offices, from the most common to the most important, had turned into an employment office for illiterate people, for people who had only 8 years of education, for people to whom the parties in power could not find any other job and said: “Get him into the police!” This influence and these connections have been broken.

Not by chance, despite this rampage rising and falling but which does never calm down, from the most untrustworthy institution for the citizens in 2013, together with the courts and the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Police has been the most trusted institution of the Albanians for two years in a row based on surveys of the European Commission, not of the government. What has happened?

I invite any Police leader of these four years to bring as testimony a single case in which he couldn’t stop a minister, an MP, a senior official, a businessman or someone of influence among those who until four years ago, when stopped by a road policeman, would spit on the floor, roll up their car window and leave. There is none!

Obviously, what I’m saying are aspects of a costly success which has been highly valued by the public who does neither eat nor is fed with the pottage of the politics and media cauldron, which means that, obviously, negative things have happened as well. This is out of question.

Let’s take cannabis and refer to facts, figures, evidence, rather than to propaganda, perception and mud. If we make a comparison between the figures of these years and the figures until 2013, I know the answer! It was only in Lazarat and spread across Albania. It’s a truth set up on a half-truth. So, a public truth on a half-truth, for the simple reason that, according to reports of the Italian Police, a surface of 319 hectares was cultivated and 900 tons of cannabis were produced in 2013 in Lazarat only.

Where did 900 tons of cannabis go?

Why did we never saw them on TV?

Why did we never read about them on the newspapers?

Why did we never hear about them by those who ruled the Ministry of Interior back then?

Because they were all sent, undisturbed, accompanied, sold across the sea, and the money was shared on this part of the sea and on the other one.

Then, there is no doubt that the strike on Lazarat was a strike that we undertook with the courage the others didn’t have 20 years ago, with the will the others didn’t show for 20 years, and with an awareness that, for the sake of truth, was only the beginning, not the end of a war for a market across the sea, not here, where, undoubtedly, we have gone through a very difficult phase. This is the truth. The simple truth that cannabis hasn’t been only in Lazarat, but across Albania, cannot be put in the cauldron.

How much was it? If we refer to State Police communiqués which, as all of you who’ve been here since before 2013 know that they were secret and therefore not to be shared either with the public or with the media, – it was not a few.

But the question is, if the 900 tons of Lazarat neither resulted nor were seen or seized, how many tones might have been those that do not result in the State Police communiqués? I’m not speculating. I’m not saying that it was much more than last year. It wasn’t much more. The difference from then is that a war has been made in these four years. And many criminal elements have been hit in this war.

Suffice it to say that 536 persons were arrested in 2015. Do you know the total number of people arrested, including Lazarat where 550 were only heads and politicians, without counting workers? Do you know the number of official statistics in 6 years, until 2013? It was 553. 20 more than in 2015 only.

If we compare the 4 years before the 4-year period when this war started, with this 4-year period, do you know the difference between the number of the arrested elements involved in the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics? 1422 with 360.

This is not to justify ourselves or to say that since things are nothing to be compared with before, then they’re fine. Not at all! We are not comparing and cannot compare with before. Before, it used to be war. Before, the State Police had surrendered. Before, Police commissars used to be killed like chickens in the streets. Isn’t this true?

The lowest number of killings in the last 20 years: 41. Whereas, there were times in the period before this 4-year period, when the number of killings was even 5 per week. You know this well.

We live neither in 2006 nor in 2012 when the number of killings was catastrophic every year. We live at a time when every truth and everything, whether or not true, is at the front of the cauldron. This of course increases the negative perception.

Meanwhile, we haven’t really dealt with the media counter response. Had we done so and – as we have shown, by removing the secret on communiqués for every root of cannabis – had we shown the face of every bandit who is arrested, and had we shown also all Police operations, then things would have been very different. But there is no need for a very simple reason, because the average people of this country cannot be fooled. I have said it and it is always nice to repeat it. I tell foreigners as well. I’ve said it even when I was not in politics: there is no scientist who can fool an Albanian, even the most illiterate one. Those who try to fool the Albanians has always paid a price and will continue to pay.

Just as, on the other hand, there is another fact.

Criminal groups. Is there a definition? Of course there is today because there are Police statistics for criminal groups that have been destroyed. It is twice the number of criminal groups destroyed compared to 2013. This doesn’t mean that there are no other criminal groups. Of course there are. This does not mean that there are no dangerous criminals who should be behind the bars. Of course there are, but that means that the State Police has been conducting a frontal war in all respects for four years.

The State Police covers today the entire territory of the country. It was the first problem I was presented with at the first informal meeting with Heads of State Police when I became Prime Minister: “We cover 55% of the territory.” I was surprised. Then, seeing the whole map of the organization, we saw that 55% of the territory was covered. Offices filled with head and with specialists, while 55% was in the field.

Of course all these are one side of the coin. There is another side of the coin, which, as far as we are concerned, we have never refused to look in the eye. We have not refused to look at the fact that in this war, in particular with cannabis, we have a situation that requires a ruthless operation within the ranks of the State Police, because it is clear that the crime has managed to corrupt police officers, has managed to corrupt people in the police.

I greet and encourage radical measures! If today, the police detects cannabis parcels in Rinas, the entire chain there should be dismissed from the police. This is clear! It is impossible to justify such a presence at a final stage of an operation when flights with European Commission funding have lasted one month, because international partners following the operation could not be convinced of the eradication of cannabis throughout the territory by unlimited air photography.

The story will be over in a few days and we will see the results. An unthinkable eradication that didn’t come out of nothing. It was the result of a 4-year war. It was the result of a 4-year experience.

The war with crime is not an activity that anyone can do on TV or in the office. Neither can I do it from my office, nor is it done in words or good-intentional documents because it is a battle.

The National Plan was the synthesis of an experience and clarity to give the final stroke.

I do not want to make speculations, but, is there anybody reasonable who does not think what the final stroke is? That is, millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of euros. The forced closure of a very attractive market.

One thing is for sure. Today we are more convinced than ever that on the basis of this war, the second phase – which we have announced since July, to go after, not the roots and parcels anymore, but rather after the networks enriched with them and their assets – is an operational phase.

It will continue! It will continue against the criminal elements, against criminal networks! It will continue against incriminated elements in the State Police. No one will be spared! No police officer who has worked all his life in the police and has unjustified assets, will be spared! There is no escape! I assure you!

The Vetting in the State Police is to separate clearly and once and for all the innocent from the guilty.

Finally, after two years or more of efforts to bring FBI agents here, and after signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Washington with the FBI director, one of the most prestigious FBI agents will be here in a few days, precisely for this purpose, to support the State Police in the fight against organized crime.

Of course, it doesn’t end here. Another agent with maximum confidence quotas will be here from Germany to support our Police in the fight against organized crime. We are discussing with a company of investigations and audits run by former FBI agents who will come here. We’ll be here and talk. We will see and talk. Of course, they will bring, in the first place, an experience that we do not have. They will definitely bring the motivating power we need. But they will also bring their operational instruments for vetting the State Police. There will be no police leader who will not undergo the test! You know what it means to undergo the FBI test. There is also an instrument of honesty when you answer. You know, the polygraph. All of this will be here.

Here we will go further with a very clear plan, by taking the maximum advantage of the experience, of the base we have established in this war and with the eagerness to include the first human resource inflow specialized in the new Police Academy in the investigative structures, in the first place, but also in other structures, according to their specialization.

Only one thing should be said, not to justify anything but to rub salt in the wound. In these four years, the State Police has given a very clear testimony: there is no living thing in this territory who cannot be captured. There is no boss or a whole set of dangerous elements in this territory who cannot be captured. In this territory, there isn’t yet a justice system that leaves them behind the bars!

If this was a public hearing, everyone here who has an experience in the battle field would be asked to testify, and each and every one would deliver a long speech about the many cases the Police has taken them into the Court doors and the Court has taken them out, and once out, these bosses, mobsters, these criminals have said: “now it’s up to us”.

There was nothing ugliest, there was nothing more insulting, there was nothing more degrading from the standpoint of the perception of the State Police, than the video that was shown everywhere from Elbasan. Unacceptable! But if the Prosecutor’s Office and Courts in Albania lived up to the battle, that video wouldn’t exist.

Some more things to conclude.

First, every leader and every police officer who is not involved with crime keeps, should keep their heads up and be assured that they are guaranteed and strongly supported, and should continue to do their job to keep up the State Police flag we have raised, and which no storm of mud can put down. The Vetting is not done for those who serve the uniform. The Vetting is done for those who have stained the uniform.

Second, fight every day and every night in the territory to continue the second phase that we have started, to continue capturing and bringing to the Court door those who are wanted at any price! I will propose to the government to set a price for the head of every fugitive in the Republic of Albania. Those who denounce and by denouncing, make possible their capture, will be paid throughout the territory of Albania. On the other hand, the maximum should be done and will continue to be done in relation to the citizens, in relation to the people who have seen the face of change in the Police in the streets, have seen the source of faith and need to continue to believe seeing even better, and that there is much better, for the sake of truth.

Finally, be very confident that, all this situation to throw mud at the State Police can continue, but there is no chance that the Albanians who have eyes to see who have ears to hear, who are able to think and can tell who is fighting the crime and who is doing politics with the crime; who is doing justice and who is playing games, will not be misled. The figures, facts and evidence speak very clearly.

They say that today State Police is far from being the body for which I have pledged since the first day and I guarantee everyone, will be a State Police of the European Union standards in all aspects by the end of this 4-year term. I said in 2013: “In eight years our Police will be on the European average in terms of all standards.” We are not there. This is where we have to look at! We don’t have to look back.

Thank you not for being here, because you work also on Sundays, but I thank you for everything you do!

I assure you that today, more than 4 years ago, more than 1 year ago, more than 1 week ago, that I am totally convinced that this is a war worthy of Albania! It’s a war worthy of all the children in this country! It’s a war worthy of all the parents of this country! Albania is not the homeland of crime! Albania is not the country where there are only criminals!

Albania is a country where people have 1001 problems, but the country’s economy, incomes in the state budget, businesses and so on are not done by criminals, but by working people; they are done by those who increase exports in agriculture; they are done by those who continue to work with much more needs, with far more problems than solutions, but they keep going; they are done by those who continue to take their children to school, continue to have great joy from their brilliant children.

Crime! Of course we have a problem. But nobody of those who have allowed crime in this country, can lecture us. We should learn from our problems. We need far better results than the ones we have! As I said before, we need to face the Police we want at the end of this road, not the Police we had. The Police we had serves only for us to understand where we are. It doesn’t serve for us to say “we’re good here, there’s no problem”. There are problems even where we are. That’s why the Police was born, because there are problems.

There’s always a problem in the willpower to do what it takes for the average people of this country. We don’t need to convince anybody of those who don’t want to be convinced, but there are hundreds and thousands people we need to convince every day that we are in a war. Eventually this war will be won by the state. It will be won by the State Police. It will be won by the men and women leaving their homes in the morning and say goodbye to their families knowing that they’re not going to trade, but they’re going to fight against crime.

Many thanks!