RIGA - Despite earlier claims from Latvian State Police that 507 employees would be fired, Interior Minister Mareks Seglins has said that only approximately 200 employees will lose their jobs.
Though the lay-offs are a part of a widely publicized government cutback scheme, there was a massive outcry as both the police and the public raised concerns over security in the country.
Seglins voiced surprise over the statements and said that police work would not suffer because of the lay-offs.
"Some will be moved from one structure to another, vacancies will be liquidated. The State Police had several hundreds of vacancies. There had not been talks about 500 policemen. I do not know why people should be angry and loud statements should be issued," he said.
State Police head Aldis Lieljuksis will be forced to decide which policemen to fire, but "for us to be able to fit in the financial frame for next year, we will downsize by about 200 policemen from 9,000," said Seglins.
Lieljuksis said the downsizing will be small and will cause no threat to the nation's security.
Preliminary reports of the lay-offs came on Nov. 11 's a public holiday when Latvia remembers fallen soldiers. The Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (LBAS) sent Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis a letter regarding their surprise over the order given by State Police chief Aldis Lieljuksis to fire 507 policemen.
"This order must have been a special greeting to policemen on the day commemorating Latvia's fallen soldiers, but, unfortunately, it did not create a festive feeling, but gave grounds for worries instead," said the letter, written by LBAS head Peteris Krigers.
State Police spokeswoman Sintija Virse said that, according to the order given by the State Police head, 150 policemen will be fired from the Riga Regional Department, 39 from the Daugavpils Department and 35 from the Ludza Department.
The heads of these departments will have to submit a preliminary list of employees to be fired.
Lieljuksis said the evaluations on who to fire will chiefly look at state language proficiency, education, references and previous disciplinary action.
Senior police officials are currently reviewing the staff at police stations and structural units around the region to reduce the administrative staff and to send more officers to patrol the streets and investigate crimes.
The national police are also working on a staff rotation plan to ensure an adequate proportion of police officers to citizens.
"Those officers who will object to being rotated to other regions of Latvia for some time will be sacked," Lieljuksis said.
However, not all policemen are upset. Agris Suna, leader of the Latvian United Trade Union of Policemen (LAPA), said in a press release that he supported the police rotation plan as it did not imply layoffs. He warned, however, that the trade union would closely follow further decisions of the government and national police.
State employee downsizing is also planned for the Border Guard and the State Fire and Rescue Service.