Support Your Local Sheriff - The Bulgarian Sequel
The latest case of Bulgarian police brutality sent shockwaves throughout society, NGOs, and the opposition.
Saturday morning, 20 to 30 hooded police commandoes arrested in public a husband and wife, used unnecessary force, took them to the family home where they broke the door and raided the premises leaving them looking like a war zone. The couple complains of being hit, beaten, and cursed while their youngest daughter was taken in underwear outside, in the cold. It also emerged that the older daughter had founded an anti-Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his GERB party Facebook page.
The case is just one of too many – known and unkown. Bulgaria has 26 guilty sentences over police brutality from the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.
In a novel move, which is to be acclaimed, Borisov called for police resignations. His Deputy, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, reprimanded (what this means hardly anyone knows) three senior police officers. One of them was slightly demoted or as official announcements used to inform during the Communist regime: "the person has been moved to another job with high responsibilities."
Why is Tsvetanov defying his beloved and veneered leader?
Why Borisov finally asked for severe punishment? Why sanctions in this case, but not in another recent example of bad police work when special task force let a handcuffed suspect get hold on a gun and commit suicide before their very eyes? Could this have anything to do with the Facebook page – it is possible, but unlikely, it had caused the raid, however, could the PM's reaction stem from wanting to protect his own image?
Why the use of nearly 30! special police on an anonymous alert of possible cigarette smuggling (5 packs without excise duty labels were found...) when such contraband is taking place on every street corner in Bulgaria, with policemen often looking to the other side? When Bulgarians have to wait for days and years for someone to respond and solve house robberies and car theft over excuses that police are overworked, understaffed and without modern means of investigation?
Is the prosecution going to react?
The worst here is that such police behavior is a matter of mentality and a remnant of the legacy of Communism – where beating suspects and being plain mean, arrogant, and rude even when police is supposed to offer simple assistance is the norm. Excluding, of course, the few "good cops."
The never-surprising Tsvetanov managed to somehow lash at the media for overblowing the case, but never giving due respect and praise for the countless good deeds of police and their tireless work.
Yes, Mr. Tsvetanov, Bulgarians will start "supporting their local sheriff" only when police start to really serve and protect fellow citizens, instead of humiliating them and jeopardizing their safety.