ATHENS – After Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would order reforms for the police department, including wearing body cameras, in the aftermath of a COVID-19 protest riot, only 40 will use them in a test.
He was responding to accusations of police brutality after a video showed one officer, now suspended, using an iron baton to viciously beat a man asking why others were being fined for being in a public square in violation of health measures.
That happened in the neighborhood of Nea Smyrni and later led to some 5,000 people gathering in what turned into an all-out brawl with overwhelmed police teams, one officer seriously injured when pulled off a motorcycle.
The first officers to wear the bodycams are from the motorcycle police unit DRASI and the crime prevention and suppression team (OPKE) the Citizen Protection Ministry told Kathimerini.
The cameras will be activated during police operations or any clashes with protesters, sending the footage back to the police’s Unified Coordination Center but there were technical problems with the cameras, the report said.
Another 20 cameras of a different type which are supported on a stick will be used in a pilot program by riot police (MAT) officers that were first deployed in December, 2020.
That came during a march marking the deadly shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos in 2008, and they were used against during an evacuation of a building at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, but didn’t work right.
Speaking in Parliament during a debate about police violence, Mitsotakis proposed that police officers carry body cameras as well as improved training and psychometric tests for new police recruits.