The Slovak Spectator spoke with Ľudovít Mučka, head of Bratislava Old Town's western district police, on May 4 to discuss exactly how police feel about the Interior Ministry's introduction of mandatory name tags.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Can name tags help eliminate police corruption?
Ľudovít Mučka (ĽM): It won't help anything. The mere introduction of name tags has legal flaws, as the order contravenes existing laws, which say that police officers are to be identified by their uniforms, identification number, police badge, and police ID card. Name tags are not listed. Thus, the Interior Ministry has put its own directive above the law, and asked us to obey it. [Interior Ministry spokesman Jozef Sitár said that the law would be discussed during a May session of parliament - ed. note]
TSS: Do you think it's dangerous if police officers, and thus their families, can be identified by name? The ministry promised that the name tags wouldn't be worn during 'special actions' [e.g. police operations against dangerous criminals].
ĽM: Even when we are called to respond to what seems like a harmless fight, we never know who the actors are, and they may well turn out to be dangerous criminals. Being forced to wear a name tag concerns not only me, but my family as well. As police officers we face danger on the job, but why should my family be put at risk too? And when we go to keep order at rallies or demonstrations, why should I let hooligans shout vulgarities at me using my name?
TSS: The ministry says the measure was introduced to eliminate corruption. Will it help?
ĽM: Policemen already have identification numbers, so why do they need name tags? Besides, if anyone is determined to take or demand bribes, he or she can easily remain anonymous just by concealing their badge or name tag.
TSS: How have your men reacted to the directive?
ĽM: I let them read it, and because I don't agree with the measure I told them "Gentlemen, you decide whether you wear them or not." The whole affair should be brought in line with the law as soon as possible. When it becomes part of the Police Law, police officers will be free to decide whether they will accept it, or whether they will leave the police force.