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A small nothing or a good nothing

Author: Adrian Neculiță

If I don't know something, that doesn't mean it isn't happening. It's not about who you are, but about what you've done. What changed in 2021? I heard a no once again. Can I say that the police, that the justice system is terrible? It isn't!

Because you've all made mistakes. We've all made mistakes.

Good morning! Usually, when I go to the office, I don't have to use it. I only use it when I leave the office. And yesterday I realized it's my leitmotif. Every time I get a no, like it said in the short film from earlier, I see this tape. And I realize that I'm the only one who is authorized to cross it. You, most of you, might wish to cross it. For me, it's a professional obligation. I simply have to cross it, and do my job.

I'm Adrian Neculiță, I've been a police officer for 11 years. I've been working at the Ministry of Internal Affairs for 19 years, and I'm the chief officer of a Forensics Office at a Colentina police station. It seems like a lot, but it went by so fast that I feel like, until yesterday, I was under the impression that I hadn't achieved anything. But every year, looking back, I realized that I had many small projects that contributed towards the project that I am part of today, that is the Safe Pol Association. It's an association that not even all of my colleagues know about. However, they've heard that an association has been founded. They don't know what it's called or what it does, but they're waiting to find out what it's about. Because they've noticed that there were 10 colleagues from the station that I work at who got together and wanted to do something. But until now, they haven't noticed anything around them, those kind of it can be done experiences, and they're expecting results.

It's not about who you are, but about what you've done. Most police officers are very suspicious. Otherwise, they wouldn't catch thieves. I've met people who... lost their money gambling and said that they'd been robbed. They were afraid of their wives. And it happens quite often. In Bucharest, there are 26 police stations and this kind of thing happens at every one of them. Small things, but proving that it wasn't a robbery, meaning a violent crime, and just a simple prank, can sometimes take up to 10 people. People who come from home because, you know... If you get beaten, you wallow on the ground... You throw yourself, sometimes you even hit your head on the sidewalk, just a bit, so you have a bit of blood, and you say he came from behind and hit you with his fist. Unfortunately, sometimes there are surveillance cameras, too. And we really encounter situations like this. Moving on, during my first 10 years, I realized that maybe I hadn't been believable. As I said, I had small projects every year. In 2013, I convinced my boss to give me and another seven coworkers a raise, more than it was legally possible. Indeed, the law had changed, and it wasn't legal to give a raise for three hierarchical levels, only two. I didn't know that. I convinced him to give us three steps, since that's what it was like the year before. In 2015, I had the opportunity to participate in the Leaders for Justice program and I met someone from the US Embassy. They had some posters with anti-corruption messages. I asked them simply: Give me some posters, I want to put them up at the police station.

You know, Colentina, with the fireworks, celebrations, December, it will help. I took them, I got my boss's approval to put them up around the station, and I left the station for five days for a mini-vacation. When I got back, the posters were gone. They'd all disappeared. I panicked and said: OK, what's going on? I have to give them back. Where are they? I started asking around. I didn't get into the office yet. I freaked out. It was serious. If you borrow something, you have to give it back. At least that's how we do it, I don't know about you. Even though, I have things that I forget to give back, too. I get into my office, and I find them all thrown there. After a few moments, an experienced coworker casually comes in and says: Yes, we threw them away. We can't have them here. We couldn't even pass by them.

What anti-corruption messages? I've been working here for 20 years. What are these? Come on, cut it with this nonsense. It's not right! In situations like this, the advantage of having a leadership position is that you can impose your opinion by force. What did I do? I put them back up. Those posters stood up until summer came around. Some passed by them, others hesitated to come up to the second floor for a while because they saw too much. There were some in the staircase, as well as ground floor. There were 14 posters, not just a few. Wherever you looked, you'd see another offense, and what do you think? You think: Man, what if I've done something like this myself? Summer came around, the US Embassy's representative changed, so I had to give the posters back. In three years, on average, over 80% percent of my coworkers changed. Today, no one knows about the posters except for me and a few coworkers. Moving on, sometime in December... Was it 2015? Sometime in 2017, I was determined to make my work easier. So determined to make work easier that I started asking not just in Bucharest, but the entire country, what computer programs my coworkers are using so that they don't have to send in daily reports, and to count the physical registers one at a time. Because in the police and in everything related to the justice system, even though electronic systems are implemented, the physical system is the main one in many places, meaning that electronic documents are just copies of physical ones. This is changing. It's changing, but... There's a long way to go. I mean, if you don't write with a pen, so one can tell what you erased or what you covered with wite-out, it's not right. I learned it from a coworker in Iași who was passionate about computer science and had a degree and who had a database. The entire forensics department in the county, because I work in forensics, would enter the information there, and, after just three clicks, they could get any information they needed. In three days after hearing about it, I was in Iași, I'd seen the database, and I was talking to him. Then, for the first time, I felt a feeling of comradeship. It was unbelievable. He welcomed us to his home, said: No, you're not sleeping at hotel. You're sleeping here. You've come to see this. You can sleep at my home.

We are coworkers. And this is something I encountered with the police every time I was away. Even abroad, in personal vacations, I would tell the police officers stopping us that I was a policeman from Romania. Hi there, mate! Hi, mate! I don't know how many of you have experienced this on vacation, someone saying to you: Hi, mate! A police officer from Morocco said to me, for example: Hi, mate! I'll show you where your accommodation is! And he took me, like a travel guide, three kilometers on foot, through Meknes, to show me where my accommodation was because I didn't know. I was also together with seven Belgian women and my girlfriend at the time, my current wife. It was something that stayed with me, and I feel very strongly about this feeling of comradeship. I left Iași, I got home, I implemented only a part of that database, because I didn't have the knowledge. I couldn't copy everything that was there because I didn't know how to, so... If you don't know how to do it, you do what you can to make life easier. Moving on, in 2020, my database had already expired. A database was launched on a national level. So, for forensics, problem solved. My work, gone. But at least I was efficient for three years. Everything I'd achieved in 10 years, as I've said, were actions at an individual level. Things that can suddenly be erased. However, what happened in 2021 was... I heard a no once again. No way! You're not allowed to! I was appointed to a higher management position, and I was a member of the Liderjust association in a management position.

At that point, I had to sign a statement that said that I declare that I don't occupy any public or private position, except for that position as a teacher in higher education. And I knew that I was vice-member in the leading committee of Liderjust. And I said: You know, I'm a member of the leading committee. You're not allowed to! Well, you know, it's an association. You can't! It says in the law, modified in 2020, that you aren't allowed to do this because you're a forensics officer! You have to choose! And I chose. I chose the position. I gave up Liderjust. The operation was temporary. After a year, I got back to my initial position. In 2021, I got back to my position as chief police officer. Now, on the 9th of April, during a friendly conversation with three coworkers, I said: What if we started an association? They said: Alright! Can you do it? And I said: I can! So, the 9th of April turned into the 16th of November, and, on the 16th of November, we managed to get the bank account of the association started. All fun and games, until it comes to money. You need an account. Without an account, you don't exist. It's not Facebook, it's an account. At this point, I can say that the association is on its way to start... You're curious what it does, right? We're not there just to have a drink. We can party, but not during a pandemic. The association will make programs, and will do everything related to practical activities for police officers and the judicial system, but starting from us. Everything we will do will include our members. I've heard this idea many times: overthrow the system, make changes for all, but you don't start with yourself. If you don't clean your own yard, you can't expect to be able to clean the entire city. Or the entire nation. Can I say that the police, that the justice system is terrible? It isn't! If only you knew how many thieves we catch every day... You wouldn't have time to read it. Honestly. At times, the prisons in Bucharest are full. They are full, and they take the detainees to other counties. And this happens all over the country. Yes, it happens.

There are situations where the prisons and detention facilities help each other, by taking people from other parts because they're full. At the same time, remember that everything related to police and criminal investigation is not public information. So, the public only receives a few fragments. What I've learned is that, if I don't know something, that doesn't mean it isn't happening. It doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Remember this: If you don't know something yet, it doesn't mean it isn't happening. You have to keep training, and practise is necessary, just like in any other system. It's a continuous need for any system. It doesn't matter whether you are a prosecutor, judge or lawyer. They all need practical training and to learn from the mistakes they make in their current documents, in their files or in their professional activity. Because you've all made mistakes. We've all made mistakes. I have mistakes I can talk about, and mistakes I can't talk about. And I won't tell them. Don't insist. I won't tell you. Thank you!

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