This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Roland Qafoku
The appointment of Tonin Vocaj as the new head of Criminal Police Department marks a new era in the Albanian police force, because Vocaj is considered to be one of the best professionals that the police force has had in the past 28 years. Discharged when socialists came into power, Tonin Vocaj continued to be on the force, despite the fact that he was assigned to work at the Police Academy. It was like a professional “deportation” for a specialist of his level. Meanwhile, not only did he accept this post, but he continued to offer his best contribution for this academy for years.
It’s clear that Sander Lleshaj has decided to act differently to those socialists who, when they were in opposition, said everything they could about this man and when they came in power, they deported him. The eastern mentality that is associated with some of our politicians, the media and a part of our society, has caused great damage to police. This is the reason why we have two police forces. One of them is active, while the other is on the street, winning court cases for unfair dismissal. When the other party comes in power, the two police forces change roles. This is a real disgrace. This is why Tonin Vocaj’s return is good news for both police forces. It’s good news because Tonin Vocaj doesn’t affiliate with any party. He’s one of those excellent professionals who kept his distance with the political class. He is a specialist of criminal investigation who has excelled in every post that he has held. Ironically, none of the police forces that we mention speak badly of him.
I don’t remember Vocaj as a police officer who provided us with news stories. He was not very eager to offer information for the reporters. However, we have never doubted on his ability to lead his officers and investigate crimes. His professionalism, his integrity and his honesty have never been questioned.
But is Tonin Vocaj’s comeback enough? Minister Lleshaj should be encouraged to bring back many other experts within the force. It must be said that the removal of 1200 police officers in 2013 has been somewhat criminal for the police force and the Albanian state. In 2015, parliament voted a decision not to allow them to come back in the force. What’s more, authorities at that time decided to remove 12 senior police officials, who were immediately replaced. Even the first Prime Minister of the Albanian state, Ismail Qemali could not replace the Turkish police with an Albanian police that fast when the state had just declared its independence. However, this happened 101 years after independence was declared. It happened in September 2013 and it will always go down in history as a disgrace.
Therefore, it’s imperative that the new minister, Sander Lleshaj changes this situation. Mr. Lleshaj did everything to abrogate that disgraceful law that doesn’t allow those police officers to come back on the force. They don’t belong to any political parties; they’re considered to be assets of the Albanian state, who were disgracefully thrown on the street and forced to work as security guards for private companies. Let us not forget Artan Cuku, who was part of those who was removed from the force and was killed by one of those that he arrested when he was in duty. In fact, the state was the true murderer of Artan Cuku; the state for which he sacrificed so much only to find himself on the street one day.
There’s a new element in the way Lleshaj is acting as the 63rd Interior minister in the history of the Albanian state. He continues to keep a low profile even when police are successful in their operations. Things are looking good after Sander Lleshaj was appointed as minister and this is a positive sign. Tonin Vocaj’s return is good news for police. Those who insulted him and his colleagues need to apologize now.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy