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Georgian Interior Minister Plans Major Police Overhaul

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 8
(TBILISI) — Georgia’s newly-appointed Internal Affairs Minister Giorgi Gakharia said in a statement Thursday that the nation’s police force must be radically reorganized to become more effective in its effort to fight crime and protect the population.

Gakharia came in the wake of a deadly brawl between a group of high school students that claimed the lives of two 16-year-olds.

“The police, as the main backbone of the law enforcement system, should be more effective and more oriented towards crime prevention,” said Gakharia.

He also said the mandate of district inspectors should be broadened, but warned that it would not be feasible to assign a patrol to every school.

Gakharia believes the best would be to provide maximum security at schools with training and support for the security guards that are attached to each school by the Ministry of Education and Science.

At present, the security guards are not deputized to make arrests or carry out searches in the same way as law enforcement officers. Gakharia believes this needs to change, with the security personnel coming under the official jurisdiction of the interior ministry.

“We are already working on this issue. We have formed a working group composed of the Ministry of Education, General Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Justice. The main task here is to empower and integrate the security guards and maximize their effectiveness,” he added.

The Ministry of Education implemented a school safety program in April 2010 that included a security detail of non-law enforcement officers charged with overseeing each campus. The officers were to watch for students who cut lessons, smoke, or caused general disruptions on the school grounds.