Czech police officers to serve in Croatia over the summer

The first batch of Czech police officers arrived in the Croat sea-side resorts of Split and Omis last week to provide assistance to the thousands of Czechs who annually visit Croatia’s Adriatic coast for a few days of sun-and-sea. They will spend the next two months patrolling the roads with their Croat counterparts, serving as interpreters and helping holiday makers who get into trouble.

Come summer the Croat coast is a very cosmopolitan scene – with tourists from all over Europe soaking up the sun and enjoying the local cuisine. Among them are close to a million Czechs –some of whom inevitably run into trouble. The Austrian, French and Hungarian authorities traditionally send their own police out to help and this year the Czech Republic and Slovakia struck a similar deal with the Croat authorities. The interest in serving in a popular holiday destination was immense but only those who fulfilled the respective criteria – above all those who had the required linguistic skills -were selected. Richard Galant is one of the first 14 officers sent out on this mission:

“We’ll be helping to deal with theft or loss of possessions. Few of our holiday- makers speak the language and have trouble explaining what happened when reporting such incidents. We’ll also be able to help out in the event of accidents or injuries. They way it works is that there are mixed patrols – Croat officers accompanied by a Czech officer.”

The Czech officers will wear their own uniforms but will not have any powers on Croat territory. Richard Galant explains that their role will be to ease communication and give Czechs advice on the best possible course of action.

“Our presence is to help communication – for instance when a Czech car is stooped by the Croat police – we can explain what the transgression was and what is expected of them. We can give Czech tourists advice and guidance or warn visitors about local rules and regulations. It will be a case of mutual cooperation.”

The first few days on the job have proved successful. Apart from the pleasure of working in a holiday destination – and being able to enjoy themselves off duty -the officers say they feel much more appreciated than they do at home. When Croat officers stop a car the look of alarm on the faces of Czech passengers is quickly replaced by open relief when addressed by an officer in Czech. Not something they are likely to experience on Czech roads. And some Czechs are so charmed to have their own guardian-angels on the sea-coast that they ask the officers to pose with them for holiday snapshots.