The scandal/The State Police is out of “miles” as officers patrol on foot.

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  • While the State Police pays full market value for its service vehicles, the conditions of the leasing contracts with concessionaire companies force police officers to conduct at least 1/3 of their service on foot due to the fear of exceeding the allocated daily mileage, turning their daily work vehicles into luxury cars without a purpose.

    Osman Stafa

    Ismet K., along with his colleague, was patrolling on foot in the capital city at the end of December 2022. Meanwhile, they received information about a physical altercation between two young individuals three kilometers away from their location. “We covered the three kilometers in 10-12 minutes, walking at a fast pace and even running at some points.”

    When they arrived at the scene, the two officers did not find any of the individuals involved in the physical altercation, as they had already left. “If we had the police car we usually patrol with, we would have reached there in just a few minutes.”

    Ismet states that for a long time, after the 22nd of each month, he and his colleagues have to patrol on foot because the police cars are kept locked up in the stations. This is due to the fact that the vehicles used by the police officers accumulate monthly mileage as stipulated in the agreement between the State Police and the concessionaire.

    “It is very difficult for us to go out into the field on foot.” The police officer explains that a significant number of vehicles are only deployed during one shift to fulfill the mileage requirements. “In the field, out of the eight shifts available, four patrols go out with cars, and the other four patrols on foot.”

    According to the law enforcement officer, there are also cases where the patrols are split into two groups, with two of them using vehicles while the remaining six patrols on foot.

    The mileage allocation for police vehicles has posed a significant problem for law enforcement personnel. The State Police operates 24/7, and the officers work in three shifts. According to Officer Ramazan Q., “It is impossible to carry out the job properly with 2,700 kilometers, which is the monthly limit. With a simple calculation, it comes down to a vehicle traveling 90 km in 24 hours. Divided into three shifts, it means 30 km per 8 hours. These kilometers must inevitably be covered before the deadline, and the vehicles will be locked up as a result.”

    In addition to responding to various incidents on foot, both city police officers mention that they have also used their personal vehicles to go wherever their work is required. When facing criminal cases that occur far away from their current location while patrolling on foot, they either wait for assistance from another sector’s patrol or request help from citizens with cars to reach the area where they are summoned to establish public order and tranquility.

    They state that patrolling on foot has become routine for many State Police officers. “We can’t effectively handle law enforcement situations as required by regulations,” the officers explain. Additionally, they mention the need to go on duty outside the city or district they work in due to frequent operations involving individuals with criminal records. These journeys result in an average of 200-300 kilometers, which means that the vehicle’s mileage is depleted faster, requiring it to be locked up until the next month to be put back into circulation.

    The situation appears to be even more challenging for police officers in other cities, especially for those stationed in precincts responsible for patrolling remote areas in the fight against cannabis. A police commander from a precinct in northern Albania describes how the mileage issue has greatly affected them.

    “It has had a detrimental impact on the morale of a police officer who must constantly worry about when the mileage will run out, rather than focusing on fighting crime,” he says.

    According to him, 90 kilometers per day is insufficient for a vehicle. “My officers patrol on foot to such an extent that they change their shoes more frequently than the car tires.”

    “In many cases, our police officers are unable to patrol in remote areas,” explains the precinct director, “especially during the months of April to November, when they need to conduct territory checks to combat cannabis cultivation.”

    They are unable to do so because the vehicles’ mileage is quickly depleted, resulting in them being locked up. They can only cover areas that are 45 kilometers away from their precinct, as the remaining 45 kilometers would be needed to return to the precinct.

    The supervisors are aware of this issue that police officers have been facing for several years since the officers themselves reported the situation to them. However, no solution has been provided thus far.

    Since 2017, when the practice of renting vehicles began, the State Police has spent 10.5 million euros. According to documents, these vehicles were acquired with zero mileage and at the actual market cost. After four years, these vehicles are returned to the concessionaire.

    Contract for leased vehicles.

    The practice of the General Directorate of State Police to determine monthly mileage has become an obstacle to the daily work of the officers. In the 2017 tender documents, it was specified that a vehicle should cover either 25,000 km or 100,000 km over four years. Within a 24-hour period, a police vehicle was expected to cover 69 km, which means approximately 23 kilometers per shift.

    Contract of 2017 between the General Directorate of State Police and the company ‘Tirana Auto’

    It seems that this issue has been somewhat reflected in the 2021 contract of the State Police, as the annual mileage would change from 25,000 kilometers to 32,500. With this change, a police fleet vehicle would cover 90 kilometers within a 24-hour period, which means approximately 30 kilometers per shift.

    Contract of 2021 between the General Directorate of State Police and companies ‘Porsche Albania’ Ltd., ‘Porsche Leasing’

    However, what happens if a vehicle completes these kilometers before the scheduled time in a 4-year contract?

    The contract states that “if before the completion of the term of this contract, a vehicle reaches the usage limit of 130,000 km (as the maximum term envisaged for 48 months), this contract will be automatically terminated for that vehicle.”

    According to the agreement between the parties, when these kilometers are reached, the contractor has the right to take possession of the vehicle in question, and the contracting authority must pay the full value of the lease for that vehicle.

    Ky shkrim është pjesë e projektit që mbështetet financiarisht nga Zyra e Mardhënieve me Publikun e Ambasadës së SH.B.A. në Tiranë. Opinionet, gjetjet, konkluzionet dhe rekomandimet e shprehura janë te autor-it/ve dhe nuk përfaqesojnë domosdoshmërisht ato të Departamentit të Shtetit. / This article is part of a project that is financially supported by the Public Relations Office of the US Embassy in Tirana. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Department of State.