Murniece calls for police overhaul following deadly shoot-out

  • 2011-01-26
  • TBT Staff

The police face widespread "checks" and disciplinary reform after a deadly shoot-out involving four members of the police force.

RIGA - Latvian Interior Minister Linda Murniece has called for a complete overhaul of the police disciplinary and hiring system after four officers were found to have taken part in a casino robbery and deadly shoot-out.

Five people were arrested in Jekabpils Tuesday after an early-morning botched robbery at a "Fenikss" gaming hall ended with a police shoot-out in which one officer was killed and numerous people were injured.

Two of the people who took part in the robbery were members of the Tukums Regional Police force and two were part of the "Alfa" elite police response squad. The Tukums police force members had been previously expelled for accepting bribes, but had been reinstated at the behest of the police union.

Murniece called for immediate "serious" checks accross the board, saying "many [people] could lose their jobs".

The Minister said Alfa had "serious problems with discipline", citing instances in which officers threatened civilians with their weapons. The incident resulted in the sacking of Alfa commander Andris Zaušs.

Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, meanwhile, said the interior minister's job was not on the line over the affair and backed her calls for police reform. He said that there had been numerous instances where the police union had forced unfit officers to be reinstated and that the practice had to come to an end.