Justice chancellor against broader assistant police powers

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise finds that planned changes to the Assistant Police Officer Act could lead to serious violation of fundamental rights.

Draft legislation that has passed its first reading in the Riigikogu aims to amend the law to allow more flexible use of assistant officers in policework. Changes would allow assistant officers to pull over vehicles and give them other powers that currently only police officers have.

Volunteers could prohibit people from entering or leaving certain areas or being around certain people. They would be allowed to carry firearms and dress in police uniform.

“I find that the aggregate effect of these changes exceeds permissible levels in terms of core functions the state can delegate to private individuals. Because assistant police officers are not police officers, their rights and obligations cannot equal those of police officials,” Madise wrote to Riigikogu Legal Affairs Committee chairman Jaanus Karilaid.

The chancellor finds that planned changes have not been sufficiently justified in the bill’s explanatory memo.

“Solving crisis situations in a way so as to avoid legal uncertainty and lengthy disputes later is, of course, important. That is why the bill will head into its second and third readings,” Karilaid said. He added that he hopes the legislator can find ways to expand the powers of assistant officers without infringing on fundamental rights.

“Estonia having more than one thousand assistant officers speaks of strong civil initiative. I clearly presume that the motives of most assistant police officers are sincere. The human factor always comes with the possibility of a negative coefficient in positions of responsibility,” Karilaid said when asked whether he’s not worried volunteers will start to misuse their powers.

“The assistant police officer has long since become an integral part of the police system,” said Sergei Metlev, assistant officer with the Northern Prefecture. Metlev pointed to the law, according to which an assistant police officer is a representative of state power whose legitimate orders need to be followed.

Metlev finds that the amendment would give around one thousand trained volunteers who have undergone background checks a chance to contribute to security more effectively and take the work of assistant officers to a new level.

The amendment aims to allow assistant officers to carry firearms or stun guns and create legal clarity for the participation of volunteers in the work of the criminal police they have been a part of for the past 20 years. For example, assistant officers can be used to analyze public data, Metlev said.

One of the more important aspects of the amendment is involving assistant officers in traffic supervision. “The number of traffic deaths has spiked in the first half-year, and representatives of the state are saying we need to contribute more to traffic supervision and prevention. In this context, it is unclear why the current assistant officers act does not allow maximum use to be made of trained and capable human resource to make traffic safer and less stressful in Estonia,” Metlev said.

Assistant officers are currently allowed to stop vehicles when on patrol with police officers. When the police order assistant officers to act independently – a patrol unit comprised of two volunteers – assistant officers are no longer allowed to effectively address traffic risks, except in situations of heightened immediate danger.

“Assistant police officers acting on their own must radio in for permission that causes delays and makes it possible for violators to get out of sight as well as demonstrating lack of confidence in assistant officers’ abilities,” Metlev explained.

“I dare say assistant officers know the law. Cases of misuse of authority among assistant officers have been very few, whereas there is no reason to believe the situation would immediately deteriorate as a result of additional powers. And what is important: changes do not include revision of the general concepts of involving volunteers,” he said.

police Justice
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of the owners of construction group Nordecon, Toomas Luman, finds that a prime ministerial candidate should first and foremost be able to answer the question of what will become of the demographic crisis in Estonia. The businessman sees controlled introduction of foreign labor as the solution. A digital construction cluster was created in Estonia a few years back to bring innovation to the s...
Last year saw 27,125 registered offenses, up 0.5 percent from the year before. Violent crime was up by 12 percent to 8,249 offenses. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / Press Association Images / Scanpix Growth was biggest for domestic violence – the police launched criminal proceedings in 3,607 cases that constitutes an increase of more than one-third – annual growth of 37 percent from 2,632 cases in 2017. At the same time, reports of domestic violence we...
TALLINN - Ahead of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, tens of thousands of British citizens have chosen the citizenship of some other country, but only one Brit has recently chosen an Estonian citizenship. Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior told BNS that only one British citizen submitted an application for Estonian citizenship last year and the applicant was also granted the citizenship. Before that, no Brits had soug...
TALLINN - Experts from Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands highlighted the importance of decentralization and granting local governments greater decision-making powers at a conference titled "Strong local government -- strong state?" in Tallinn on Wednesday.  All Nordic countries have chosen a model granting local governments significant decision-making powers, thus the central government does not prescribe how local governments are to fulfill the...
The language learning application Drops by game developer Planb Labs, established in Estonia by Hungarian founders, was named Google Play's best app of 2018. With the number of downloads surpassing 10 million, Drops was named Google's app of the year as the revenue of Planb Labs, a company registered in Estonia, increased fivefold, CNBC said. The developer's revenue grew from €335,000 in 2017 to €1.7 million in 2018. The company's shareholders include Hung...
TALLINN - The Estonian Health Board has banned the distribution of chlorine dioxide, also marketed as the Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), the A-component of an unused product, meaning the sodium chlorite solution, must be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Ester Opik, head of the Health Board's North regional department, said that the banning of the distribution of the product was caused by the fact that MMS, distributed as a cosmetics produ...
Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now. Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to...
Allied NATO battalions will soon mark two years serving in the Baltics. They have worked better than expected but would need prepositioned heavy weaponry and a functional contingency plan in case of a crisis, a report by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) finds. “We do not know how Russia would have acted had we not welcomed allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. I’m afraid they would have tested our resolve,” one of...
The time of filing income tax returns is nearly upon us. The new income tax system, in effect since last year, will obligate many women who went on maternity leave toward the end of the year to make additional income tax payments, while those who give birth in the middle or at the beginning of the year have no such obligation. What this means is that some women will owe the state simply for giving birth “at the wrong time”. Laura Roop, who went on maternit...