Personnel Assessment Spurs Reform Process for Law Enforcement Agencies

ASTANA – In his state-of-the-nation address in January 2012, President Nursultan Nazarbayev attached great importance to reforming the nation’s law enforcement bodies and special services.

Part of that reform process is an assessment of the nation’s law enforcement services which took place over the year 2012 overseen by the so called Higher Assessment Commission (HAM). During that assessment, 100,000 personnel in all were assessed and 16,000 of them failed to meet the allotted standards for professionalism. Of those who failed the assessment, almost 5,000 were recommended for dismissal, 3,500 were recommended for demotion, 4,500 were transferred to other departments, while 2,300 refused to get tested.

Altai Abubullayevy, the official spokesman of the Central Communications Service (CCS), told a weekly briefing in late December that on President Nazarbayev’s orders a new personnel policy was being developed to establish new and higher standards for law enforcement services.

The interviewing and assessment programme was the first stage in modernizing the nation’s law enforcement system, Alik Shbekbayev, head of the law enforcement system department of the Presidential Administration, told the same press briefing.

The assessment was held in three stages. The Central Assessment Commission first interviewed 4,971 personnel, of whom 879 (18 percent) subsequently left the service.

Some 368 senior officers were also examined and 74 of them (20 percent) failed the examination. Another 28 senior officers were dismissed for their refusal to undergo the assessment.

However, more than 3,000 officers were recommended for promotion by the commission, of whom 671 have already been appointed to higher positions.

More than half of the total number of officers eligible for the interview did not pass the tests for firing their weapons and physical training. Some 10 percent of the personnel examined failed their law exams; 4,831 of those tested were identified as having low psychological stability.

A special web page has been opened on President Nazarbayev’s official website to ensure the transparency of the assessment. So far, it has received 115 complaints about corruption, contempt of professional ethics and other offenses committed by officers undergoing assessment. In all, 185 documents alleging or recording compromising behaviour by 103 officers were received and taken into account during the assessment process.

Following the assessment, the government presented a package of reforms to address the deficiencies and improve the personnel policies of law enforcement bodies.

Shpekbayev said the reform package was prepared following the HAC work. It has proposed raising the age limit for serving personnel and establishing common requirements to qualify for service, as well as changing eligibility requirements for law enforcement administration and creating a new procedure to govern non-competition appointments to higher positions.

The second reform package will improve law enforcement cooperation with the institutions of civil society and establish a new commission for personnel policy in law enforcement bodies on the basis of the HAC.

The third package of reforms will reduce the interval between successive assessments of the law enforcement agencies from three years to one year. It will establish criteria to assess individual departments in cases of corruption offenses and repeated crimes committed by law enforcement officials and employees. It will also develop criteria to independently evaluate prosecutions and mechanisms of civil control.

Changes will be made in the testing of officers’ legislative knowledge and in their combat and service training and departmental education by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Anti-Corruption Agency to bring these procedures in line with the best international standards.

Shpekbayev said all the above mentioned suggestions were approved by President Nazarbayev and would be implemented within the framework of Strategy – 2050, a programme announced by the president during his state-of-the-nation address on December 14, 2012.