2015-08-11cThe police reform project in Ukraine is being implemented with the backing of the United States. Washington has provided training and money. Generally, the United States has contributed $15 million to the effort. Earlier this year 100 Ukrainian police instructors were trained by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Those instructors then went on to teach the new police course in Kyiv for the first class of officers. The U.S. influence is seen even in the U.S.-style uniforms with the kind of high-crowned, black-brimmed caps worn by the police in American cities.

The hybrid cars Toyota Prius used by the police now were bought for the money that Japan paid to Ukraine in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol – the amount is the price of Ukraine’s emission quota.

The organizational side of the reform was secured through hiring the Georgian Eka Zguladze as the supervisor of the project. Her experience of successfully overhauling (under then President Mikhail Saakashvili ) the previously corrupted police force in Georgia was taken into account.

It seems that the Ukrainian party is also doing its best by enrolling young people who possess higher moral standards, have better education and are, on the whole, more intelligent compared to the contingent of the “old militia.” The video with a policeman playing the instrumental version of One Republic international hit “Apologize” (he was doing it on the piano placed in one of Kyiv streets) became viral ( ). Personally, I know a young lady – a sincere believer, a devout Christian – who joined the new police corps here in Kyiv. The number of applicants for one vacancy varied from 7 to 10 people, depending on a city.

The new police are better paid too. Average monthly pay for the new officers in Kyiv ranges from 7,000 to 10,000 hryvnyas ($320 -$450), a cut above the average Kyiv salary of 6,000 hryvnyas. It must be admitted, though, that many of those enrolled come to the capital city from provincial towns and have to rent apartments, which eats away a noticeable amount of their earnings. The average monthly rent of a one-room apartment in Kyiv is at the moment as high as 4,000 hryvnyas. Considering that the real value of the consumer basket in Kyiv in 2015 equals more than 3,000 hryvnyas, it becomes clear that the new police can hardly be placed into the bon-vivant category.

What is particularly unique for Ukraine is the style of communication between the new police and the TOs, or “typical offenders.” The police speak too much, which, in my opinion, is an indicator of their inexperience. They try to explain to an offender what wrong has been done, instead of proceeding from the position of immediate law-enforcement. This expostulatory approach is unfortunately interpreted by many wrong-doers as a sign of weakness. On the other hand, quite a number of perpetrators keep thinking that they are above the law and, as a result, conflicts arise. While it is easier to cope with a guy who is driving under the influence ( ), it is already more difficult to withstand a hysterical blond who is coming up with threats saying that her husband is a militiaman, and who attempts to run over the policeman before her car is blocked by two other cars – one in the front and the other in the back – to prevent a much heavier crime ( ). I think the new police should undergo another course of American training to learn how to deal with the offenders, regardless of how high-positioned they may be, or what kind of cover or protection they may enjoy ( ).

The police reform project is considered experimental. I do wish for it to succeed. For me the project is no less important than the educational reform, which is under a fierce attack now on the part of those who are used to manipulating laws by pushing the buttons of their cell-phones (see my blog entry of July 23). If implemented, both projects would make people believe that ideas defended on the Maidan in the winter of 2013-2014 have started to materialize.


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