Today, Riigikogu passed the act facilitating, among other things, the involvement of assistant police officers, members of the Defence League and military servicemen in police work during the emergency situation.
According to the Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, the act allows to use assistant police officers more flexibly in police work during the emergency situation as they have an increasingly important and instrumental role in solving the crisis. “Assistant police officers can be involved more swiftly in the police work as the rights vested in them allow them to work more independently in the future. The given changes are important in solving the situation caused by the crisis as effectively as possible,” Helme stressed.
The Minister added that the role of assistant police officers in the given situation has undoubtedly been irreplaceable as they have assisted in police patrolling, border guard work as well as in maintaining public order. “That is why in the current situation, more flexible involvement of assistant police officers is particularly important as their contribution so far has been of significant assistance,” Helme said.
During an emergency situation, it will be possible to waive the precondition of training and participation in police activity to the extent of at least 100 hours for those trained for independent activity alone or with another assistant police officer, in case there is a need to increase the number of assistant police officers performing duties independently. It certainly does not mean that there will be poorly trained people in the streets. The eligibility of assistant police officers is assessed rigorously and thoroughly during their professional aptitude interview. They also need to have completed the first and second stage training. There will be more informed target recruitment of assistant police officers with also their previous experience considered.
Assistant police officer applicants must submit their medical certificate. During the emergency situation, it may be difficult to get a doctor’s appointment and therefore, from now on the applicants can also turn to the police occupational health doctor.
Pursuant to the amendments, assistant police officers performing duties independently can now intervene more effectively in violations of public order and counter threats until the arrival of a police officer or receiving their order. Assistant police officers will be authorised to verify a person’s identity and independently execute the prohibition of stay in order to ensure prompt reaction in a hazardous situation. Also, on the order of a police officer they can use special equipment to force a dangerous vehicle to stop. Assistant police officers are allowed to employ the supplementary specific measures only in case of an emergency situation or in a state of emergency.
The given act also authorises the involved members of the Defence League and military servicemen to apply similar special measures as assistant police officers in order to enhance their involvement in solving the emergency situation. However, the involved members of the Defence League and military servicemen have the given rights only on the order of a police officer. For instance, members of the Defence League or military servicemen participating in patrol activities or border checks together with a police officer have the right to check people’s documents.
The amendments will enter into force on the day following their publication in Riigi Teataja.