The government has not stopped uprooting police departments as five more police officers from the İstanbul Police Department who were involved in uncovering massive government corruption have been permanently banned from the profession.
The High Disciplinary Board of the Interior Ministry expelled former Financial Crimes Unit Deputy Chief Kazım Aksoy and four other police officers at the same department on the grounds of “destroying documents entrusted to their office" and “using their authority to collect gains for themselves or others.”
The expelling of the police officers came one week after two high profile names from the İstanbul Police Department, former Financial Crimes Unit head Yakub Saygılı and Deputy Police Chief Mahir Çakallı -- who were both also involved in revealing corruption -- were banned from the profession.
Since the corruption and bribery investigation into businessmen and senior government officials, including four then-ministers, went public on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013, thousands of police officers have been removed from their posts and reassigned to other positions because of alleged links to the Hizmet movement. The movement was inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US. The government and its close circles have labeled the graft probe as a "coup attempt" and have accused the movement of being behind the investigation, which is a claim the movement denies.
In addition to the thousands of police officers, the government has replaced the prosecutors who initiated the investigation as well as dozens of officials at various state institutions and others working for public prosecutors' offices.
In another move to purge senior police officers thought to be affiliated with the Hizmet movement, the government is aiming to force more than 2,000 police chiefs to retire, the Habertürk daily reported on June 4.
Last month, the National Police Department's Supreme Evaluation Board blocked the promotion of more than 2,000 senior police officers by refusing to fit their promotions into the budget.
According to a study conducted by the National Police Department's Legal Affairs Board, it has been decided that a promotion and retirement system similar to the Turkish military will be implemented for the police force. If police chiefs are promoted in rank but are not appointed to any specific position then they will be forced to retire. Those who cannot be promoted will be forced to retire if there are no open positions for them, the report said, adding that more than 2,000 police officers will be forced to retire after this system is implemented.
In a separate development, Turkey's Supreme Education Board (YÖK) blocked more than 10,000 ordinary police officers from being promoted by invalidating their diplomas, the Milliyet daily reported.
Normally, police officers who complete four years at the Police Academy are able to become deputy police chiefs. However, in 2011, the Police Academy signed a protocol with Erzurum Atatürk University for a “Security Sciences License Completion program,” which allowed police officers who are graduates of two-year police vocational colleges to receive a diploma equivalent to a bachelor's degree after completing a two-year-long distance learning program. Thanks to this program, more than 10,000 police officers completed the program and received their bachelor's degrees.
But, when those police officers who received their bachelor's degrees via that program applied for promotions, the National Police Department asked YÖK whether their diplomas were valid or not. YÖK, which previously recognized the program, said that completing a two-year program with distant learning cannot be equivalent to a bachelor's degree. With this decision, the promotion of 10,000 police officers was blocked.
In another change, the Interior Ministry removed police vocational college students' exam-free admission to the Police Academy on June 3. Up until this year, students of police colleges --which are equivalent to high schools in Turkey -- were able to be admitted to the Police Academy without taking an exam. However, from now on, graduates of police vocational colleges will have to take an admission exam to the Academy along with normal high school graduates.
The Police Academy chief was also replaced on May 22 as part of the nationwide police purges.
Published on Today's Zaman, 04 June 2014, Wednesday