Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has told a cabinet meeting he wants urgent reforms to stop traffic police racketeering motorists for bribes, a call that followed a video shown online of a traffic policeman accepting money from a driver.
The video, viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube and via Facebook, has resulted in an investigation by prosecutors and an Interior Ministry announcement that the traffic policeman – who allegedly has a track record of accepting bribes – will face a disciplinary hearing.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on November 19, Borissov said that such “bullying” behaviour by police “belittled in people’s eyes police successes against drug trafficking, for example”.
Borissov, who was Interior Ministry chief secretary from 2001 to 2005 and prime minister from 2009 to early 2013 before returning as head of government just less than two weeks ago, told Interior Minister Vesselin Vuchkov to issue an order that only authorised officers should draw up citations and the whole procedure should be filmed continuously.
Borissov said that, secondly, because they would try to skirt the orders on police operations, there should be accurate monitoring of their activities. “Open an open line or via Facebook, if you must. Anyone who is stopped in a police check would then write, ‘at such and such a time I was stopped in a police operation’.”
“We will engage with all of society after society was infuriated. And rightly so,” Borissov said. “Do what you have to, however much money we have to give, society does not accept this.”
Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski, whose ministry includes the Metereological and Technical Surveillance Agency, said that the agency had reported that on a large scale, traffic police had been using uncertified private breathalysers and radar equipment for speed checks.
Lukarski said that the agency would conduct a formal investigation and the results would be reported to the Interior Minister.
Borissov told the two ministers to “get this in hand” because “it’s bothering people”.
Vuchkov agreed to have traffic police checks subjected to video monitoring and said that he wanted to check the professional skills and qualifications of everyone employed by the road safety division.
According to a transcript of the cabinet meeting, Vuchkov agreed with Borissov that the corrupt behaviour of traffic police “undermines the other successes of the ministry”.