Police officers across the country are forced by their superiors to pay for insurance covering the costs of accidents and collisions of police cars out of their own pockets, according to tvn24.pl. – The rule that candidates for service will not be told about is simple: you don’t pay, you polish the pavement in a foot patrol – one of the officers tells us.
The police fleet is about 22,000 vehicles. And these are subject to various bumps and accidents. According to the report of the Supreme Audit Office, damage occurs on average almost every hour, and nearly half is caused by an officer.
– Few people know that this cost is passed on to the police. We have to buy our own insurance – an officer serving in Lower Silesia tells us.
Voluntary, compulsory insurance
In support of his words, he provided journalists at tvn24.pl with a public document, which was signed in 2021 by the city police chief in Wrocław. The most important fragment of the decision “on the principles of operation and supervision of transport equipment” is included in point 1.
“The equipment may be entrusted to police officers/civil employees who have at least two years of driving experience (…) and have paid voluntary third party liability insurance”
– So voluntary insurance is compulsory insurance – comments our interlocutor.
The same document shows why there are so many collisions and accidents involving police cars: commanders do not require special training to drive “privileged” vehicles. They do not require, because the police save on training their officers, which was already noticed by the auditors of the Supreme Audit Office in 2018.
The insurance – costing from about PLN 30 to even over PLN 40 per month – takes over the cost of repairs for the policemen. According to the regulations, a police officer-perpetrator who is not insured may be charged up to three salaries, which today in practice means from 15 to 18 thousand.
However, the entire salary cannot be taken from him, so debt collection continues indefinitely, and repairs will not do themselves. In new police cars, a broken lamp means the replacement of entire modules and the amount is well over 15,000
According to him, that’s why the superiors put so much pressure on the officers’ insurance: the insurance money is received almost immediately, the police car quickly returns to service.
The tvn24.pl journalist sent questions about “voluntary, compulsory insurance” to the press department of the provincial police headquarters in Wrocław on July 30. Three days later, instead of a reply, a text message came: “An answer will be sent tomorrow in this matter.”
A day later, on August 3, another: “Unfortunately, we will not be able to answer the questions asked today, please be patient as soon as possible, we will answer.”
However, until the publication of this material, we have not received any explanation.
We also asked the headquarters if the requirement to buy insurance applies to the whole country and why the police did not take this financial burden on themselves. We received a one-sentence answer from spokesman Mariusz Ciarka: The Headquarters did not issue any guidelines regarding civil liability insurance for officers.
Fighting with the Ministry of the Interior
However, the fact that police officers across the country are in the same situation is confirmed by tvn24.pl, deputy chairman of the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union, junior inspector Andrzej Szary: – As a union, we are trying to fight such a pathological situation. Our appeals to the Ministry of the Interior and Administration remain unanswered. But we’re not giving up, he says.
Refusal to pay “voluntary” insurance has serious consequences for officers. The editors of tvn24.pl have a copy of the documentation of one of the officers who refused to pay “voluntary” insurance. He was transferred from his unit in which he served without any disciplinary mishaps to another and assigned to foot patrol.
Most of us agree for peace of mind. Colleagues do not understand that this is a symptom of the same disease that recently allowed the city police chief in Bydgoszcz to sign an order that the policemen give back kettles for brewing water for tea and coffee. The whole country was laughing at my company. We policemen too, but through tears: because we know that all the kettles were bought by ourselves – says our interlocutor.
A case for the Internal Affairs Bureau?
Police officers from various parts of the country also inform trade unions and the Internal Affairs Office about one more problem related to “compulsory-voluntary insurance”.
– We have signals from our members that there may be fraud. A colleague cut one tire and the invoice was for the replacement of four tires – a trade unionist from the south of the country tells us.
Another tells a similar story: – A policeman scratched the bumper and the invoice showed that the lamps and parking sensors had also been changed.
In accordance with the accepted practice, police officers authorize colleagues from logistics to contact the insurer. As a rule, they do not see any documents.
– There are so many signals that the costs may be inflated that the Internal Affairs Office should investigate this – says an officer of the main police headquarters.
Main photo source: TVN Warsaw