More on Georgian Police Reforms

More On Georgian Police Reforms…

A group of Georgian officers.

I continue to be fascinated by this story. Here is more information on these reforms in the Republic of Georgia following the “Rose Revolution” in 2004 which was led by newly-elected President Mikheil Saakashvili and the amazing success of the new government’s efforts to reform its police.

First, see my first blog on this subject if you haven’t already seen it.

Then read on…

Here’s more on the Georgian reform from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs:


“Under Georgia’s former president, Eduard Shevardnadze, a tight nexus existed between the police, state institutions, business, politics, and organized crime. When the USSR collapsed, Georgia had a population of approximately 5.5 million people. There were about 25,000 personnel in the MVD and 1,000 in the KGB—a ratio of one law enforcement official per some 200 citizens. Georgia thus remained a heavily policed society. Despite reforms in other parts of the government, the MVD maintained a dysfunctional structure with 28 departments. Just before the Rose Revolution, additional security departments were created and MVD personnel more than doubled (56,000) while the population had decreased by nearly 1 million, creating a worse police-citizen ratio, less than 1:80. Given the low salaries of law enforcement personnel ($40-50 per month on average), preventing police corruption was almost impossible.

“How was it possible for Georgia to quickly transition from a state of crime bosses (in Soviet parlance, ‘thieves in law’) to a state of law-abiding citizens? Georgia’s political landscape changed substantially after the Rose Revolution of November 2003. Widespread dissatisfaction with the undemocratic and corrupt post-Soviet regime led to the 2004 election of Mikheil Saakashvili, whose government immediately targeted the corrupt police apparatus, which many Georgians saw as the epitome of a failed state.

“By the end of 2006, the Saakashvili administration abolished the KGB-style Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and its related police units, dismissed every member of the country’s uniformed police, and created a new police force from scratch… the reformers’ strategy was to capitalize on public support, think boldly, act quickly, and fix mistakes as they arose (my emphasis). All this produced significant progress…

“The main police academy has been one major focal point of reform. Before the Rose Revolution, the academy was widely believed to be one of the most corrupt structures in the MVD. Admissions and examination processes were completely devoid of integrity. Prospective students had to pay between $4,000-6,000 to be admitted. Much of the money flowed to the top administrators and entrance examiners. The illicit sums paid were estimated to be approximately $500,000 a year.

“The result? A drastic improvement in Georgia’s ranking in corruption by Transparency International. The World Bank’s Freedom of Business ranking raised Georgia from 100 in 2006 to 12 in 2011, higher than Finland, Sweden, or Japan (my emphasis). Russia, in the same period, fell from 70 to 120. Still, monitoring organizations have also noticed lingering abuses of the legal system. For example, minor thefts and petty bribes have landed some with long prison sentences.

“There are a number of international organizations and foreign embassies in Georgia that are active in providing reform assistance to Georgian law enforcement agencies. Local recommendations are in line with efforts of international bodies such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s Police Assistance Program for the Georgian Police; the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP); the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) international civilian police contingent; the EU’s Rule-of-Law Mission in Georgia (EUJUST Themis); the Police and Human Rights Program of the Council of Europe (COE); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and the U.S., German, and French Embassies… 

“It is difficult to overestimate the significance of Georgia’s success for other post-Soviet states. There was once a general discourse on the alleged cultural idiosyncrasies of the South Caucasus, including, as Georgian scholar Georgi Glonti pointed out, that they “automatically oppose the law, whatever form it takes.” Saakashvili proved this wrong. National identities and political cultures are not set in stone. His boldness as a reformer did more than change the social order in Georgia. He broke the stereotype that corruption is ‘naturally’ embedded in one’s political and societal culture, in Georgia’s case of an honor-and-shame society…


 [To see the full article click HERE]

The question I have is this: Are there lessons in police reform that we can learn from this? Especially in light of our Federal Court using “consent decrees” to reform some of our nation’s police departments over the years and currently in New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle?

[The above article is the work of PONARS: New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia is an international network of academics that advances new policy approaches to research and security in Russia and Eurasia. PONARS Eurasia is based at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. The publication was made possible by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.]