Police force to open doors to certain foreign recruits

Foto: Archivo de la Policía checa

The ranks of the organised crime department of the Czech police have hitherto been filled with Czech citizens by law. It is not only Czech citizens though contributing to organised criminal activity in the Czech Republic. While the police do not keep, or at least publish, statistics on crimes committed by non-Czech nationals, a need has apparently arisen to open their doors to foreign job applicants. On Wednesday, the government approved that aim, with the passing of the new conceptual plan for the organised crime unit that will, for the first time, allow citizens of other countries to work for the police.

The concept of organised crime covers a broad swath of offences, from mafia activities to terrorism, and many of them by nature essentially require the involvement of non-Czechs. News stories involving the organised crime department of the Czech police in recent years have included human trafficking around Europe via the Czech Republic, a forgery ring involving Albanians and Romanians, the alleged presence of a Dagestani terrorist organisation, and most recently sham weddings organised by Nigerians and Czechs. Captain Iva Knolová of the organised crime unit stresses that the department has plenty of foreign knowhow and language skills, but perhaps not enough of the right kind for the present day.

“Our colleagues of course do speak foreign languages and have experience with other countries and working abroad, but of course that generally involves speaking English, German and so on. We would now welcome the opportunity to have people in our ranks who speak less common languages and also who know the environments of various ethnicities. These are things that would truly be of great advantage to us.”

Iva Knolová
The government on Wednesday therefore sanctioned the Interior Ministry’s new plan for combating organised crime, and it includes taking on detectives of nationalities that would be of specific use to the force. According to the submitted material, reported on by the daily Právo, dialects and slang are obstacles for the police, quality translation services for many languages are unavailable or come at too great a cost, or interpretation services impractical in the field. Capitain Knolová again:

“This entails all kinds of languages like Vietnamese and Chinese, people from areas like Dagestan and so on. With Western European languages we don’t have language barriers. But we need not only people with language skills but also people who are familiar with various ethnicities and cultures. Such people would of course have to go through the selection procedure and meet the conditions of working with the Czech Police, including successfully completing the necessary security clearance and language exams, then there is nothing to prevent foreign citizens from working in our ranks.”

The police department says the initiative is inspired by similar situations in other countries such as the United States, where the FBI has for several years allowed Chinese nationals for example to serve for similar reasons. The plan approved by the government also allows for closer cooperation with police in China and in other Southeast Asian nations, in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc and in north-western Africa, particularly Nigeria, from where organised criminal groups have emerged in recent years.