At a time when the us authorities are planning to dismantle the police of Minneapolis, a country can serve as a case study : Georgia. One of the few nations to be able to transform his corrupt police into a model institution. All in a record time.
We are in 2003. The Rose revolution is shaking the former soviet republic of 4 million people, became independent 12 years earlier. And brought to power a lawyer trained in the United States : Mikhail Saakashvili, 36 years old, at the time the youngest officer in the european continent.
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The man wants to go fast. To turn your back to the era of Eduard Shevardnadze, his predecessor, he attacks the symbol, the most visible corruption : the police, whose members are nicknamed the "bandits" high ranking ". A caste where to buy the positions, thriving on drug trafficking and kidnapping, but also famous for racketter motorists.
80 % of the police officers returned in a few days
The operation "clean hands" takes place in December 2003. In a few days, more than 30 000 police officers are returned, that is, 80 % of the workforce in the country. A large household that also affects the ministries of home Affairs and State Security, and two entities noyautées by the former KGB. "Saakashvili wanted to hit hard and fast because he feared a counter-revolution coming from these backgrounds," stresses Thornike Gordadze, former vice-minister of foreign Affairs under the former president. In some services, such as customs, the purge quickly proves insufficient and it is nearly the entire staff that it is necessary to renew.
at the same time, a broad call for applications is launched. At the outset, without much success. The young are wary and sceptical of the redesign promised. The prospect of wages revalued launches, however, the movement. Because Saakashvili defends an idea : to defeat the extortion, it is necessary to inflate the compensation. The new recruits are given wages by ten to twenty times higher than those of their predecessors. And now receive almost $ 500 per month. Of the amounts paid by the foundation of american billionaire George Soros.
therefore, graduates from a variety of backgrounds, such as biologists or historians, will join the police academy, also funded by the United States.
Saakashvili also wants to heal their appearance. Finished the uniforms for the soviets, the new police officers now furnished with an outfit of the west. They even have German cars and u.s. radio.
new rules come into force. During the tests, drivers can stay in their car in order to avoid any risk of aggression. A few years later, a law will require even the police to use cameras intended to film the exchange.
The reform bears fruit. The police became the third institution is the most respected after the Church and the army. Criminals fail finally in prison. To the point of tripling the prison population in five years... and to improve the image of the country. Ranked in 2003, at the 124th annual ranking of the least corrupt countries, Georgia dates back to the 48th place a decade later. The initiative awakened the same interest in foreigners. At the time of the arab Spring, the delegations of tunisia and egypt will make it to Tbilisi.
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The revolution Saakashvili has its drawbacks. Tens of thousands of police officers fired live bitterly their exclusion. Many will convert in taxi drivers. Others join the gang with which they worked. "We can say that they have formed the first opposition force to the government," continued the former Georgian minister Thornike Gordadze. In the demonstrations, they were the groups most organized and the most violent. "
And then Saakashvili is guilty of an error of judgment. Focusing on the police, it neglects the other reform is equally essential : that of the justice, stayed the orders. An abuse of power that will lead to its fall in 2013 and his departure from the country.