Greece to reorganize police force in wake of violent protests

[JURIST] The Greek government announced Monday that it will seek to overhaul its police force in the wake of the December riots [BBC backgrounder] and last week's vandalism [Kathimerini report]. The Greek Interior Ministry [official website, in Greek] has enlisted the help of British police in order to streamline the Greek police force [Kathimerini report] and make it more effective. Both Scotland Yard and the City of London police force have promised aid, and former head of the London City police Ian Blair [BBC profile] and Scotland Yard official Christos Kalamatianos will lead the reorganization [UPI report]. The plan is to follow the model of British police forces by creating 30 rapid response teams of 12 officers each, with each team equipped with the latest technology and transportation.

The Greek police have been accused of being both ineffective and unnecessarily violent [JURIST op-ed], following the accidental shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December 2008. The police were then unable to contain the riots that followed in the Athenian neighborhood of Exarcheia for over a week. Attempts to control the protesters, students who were quickly were joined by local anarchist groups, ended in isolating Exarcheia entirely [BBC report] until the demonstrations subsided. Police found it equally difficult to subdue a spree of vandalism on Friday in Kolonaki, another Athenian neighborhood, and Greek island Thessaloniki which ended with more than forty stores looted and several banks attacked. The youths responsible for the attacks dropped pamphlets [AP report] that pledged their allegiance to anarchist groups.

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