TALLIN - InternInternal Affairs Minister Kalle Laanet turned down a chance to dismiss Chief of Police Robert Antropov on July 18, who has been criticized for using a police vehicle for personal use, in what many have considered as unjustified leniency.
A disciplinary investigation, launched at Laanet's request revealed that Antropov's use of an official vehicle for private purposes did not breach police law.
Antropov had tendered his resignation, agreeing to step down from his position as head of police, if charged. He was quoted as saying he would not allow media reports to ruin neither his reputation nor his team's.
However, he added that, in his opinion, he did not breach any rules. And the minister agreed.
An investigation into the allegations began after the Postimees daily reported that the police chief had used the department's BMW X5 all-terrain vehicle to transport his elderly parents to a health center on Saaremaa Island.
Because Estonia's police needed stability in order to maintain its development program, Antropov should maintain his position, Laanet concluded. However, the minister requested that the police chief establish regulations over the private use of police vehicles, adding that Antropov had to redeem his actions, which injured the department's public reputation.
It was determined that the state would deny Antropov additional salary payments and compensations, the police press office reported.
Eesti Paevaleht clarified the sum. For at least half a year, the chief of police will be denied 9,500 kroons (610 euros). But even after six months it is not guaranteed that his salary will be fully restored.
Antropov currently earns 55,000 kroons a month.
In addition, the police chief was deprived of his summer vacation, previously scheduled for July 18. Laanet warned Antropov that if he abused police rules or conduct in the future, he would be blacklisted.
During an interview with the SLOhtuleht daily, Antropov confessed that he needed a bigger car for his parents. The police chief did, however, pay back his dues.
According to the department's press secretary, Antropov turned over 3,641 kroons to cover the cost of his parents' trip. The sum includes gasoline, ferry tickets and car rental.
The police chief stressed that this was the first time he had used a police vehicle for private purposes, denying rumors that suggest otherwise.
This case is Antropov's second public scandal involving police vehicles. The chief reportedly drove the department's Hummer full throttle on Saaremaa Island in 2003. He had to pay a 2,000 kroon fine for the offence.
Antropov recently told SLOthuleht that he did not like cars at all.