Some 1,500 policemen, 100 patrol cars and 60 motorcycles currently being used to guard VIPs will be put on regular duty, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said on Monday.
“They will stop guarding special targets and will be thrown into the fight against crime, the fight for the safety of Greek citizens,” Dendias said Monday, following talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
The minister said that the police set up a committee after the June 17 elections to assess ways of increasing the number of officers on patrol duty. The move to reduce the number of policemen guarding VIPs is based on a plan drawn up by police chiefs, Dendias added. According to that plan, the 4,200 or so police that currently guard public figures and celebrities can be reduced to 2,700, freeing up the remainder to join their fellow officers on the beat in Attica and in other parts of the country where crime levels are rising.
Scaling down the VIP force would involve reducing the number of bodyguards in the premier’s detail by 25 officers, according to sources who did not determine how many guards would remain at Samaras’s service.
The security afforded to Alexis Tsipras, the head of leftwing SYRIZA, the main opposition party, is also to be reduced by 20 officers and that of the other party leaders by 10 officers, the same sources said. Ministers will be entitled to a security detail of maximum five people, compared to the current eight with deputy ministers getting three instead of four guards.
Kathimerini understands that authorities are also planning to charge celebrities or prominent wealthy citizens who have benefited from state security in the past according to their income.
The announcement by Dendias on Monday came a day after police sources told Kathimerini that some 1,800 officers from the police’s immigration department are to be transferred to the Turkish border as part of an emergency plan to beef up policing of the country’s frontiers due to the worsening conflict in Syria.