Police asked for more cash after Breivik attacks

Senior politicians have reacted furiously to revelations that the police labour union, in the immediate aftermath of last summer’s dual terror attacks, sought lucrative overtime deals for officers who had to break off their holidays.

Police asked for more cash after Breivik attacks
Photo: Vegard Grøtt/Scanpix

Just after right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Norway’s worst atrocity since World War II, union chief Arne Johannessen started work on negotiating compensation deals for the 655 officers who had to return to work, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

“The most important goal was to mobilize as many police officers as possible. And then it was important that anyone who cut short their holiday didn’t end up with extra costs. In times of crisis, the normal rules do not apply to the extreme situation in which one is working,” Johannessen told the paper.  

Five days after the July 22nd attacks, police authorities sent a report to the government in which the labour group said it would in future advise its members not to break off their vacation for a crisis unless they were guaranteed full overtime pay from the moment they had to leave their holiday destination.

“I don’t know if it was the 22nd, 23rd or 24rd, but we raised this very quickly,” said Johannessen.

News of the report has prompted outrage across the political spectrum. Labour Party secretary Raymond Johansen described as “shocking” the move by the union, Politiets Fellesforbund, to push for better pay at the height of a national crisis.

“It’s shocking and shameful if it’s true that the police union made demands and entered into negotiations about compensation in the days after July 22nd,” Johansen told Aftenposten.

Dozens of members of the Labour Party’s youth organization were killed when Breivik gunned down 69 people on Utøya island shortly after setting off a car bomb outside government offices in Oslo, killing eight.

Per Sandberg (Progress Party), the head of the parliament’s justice committee, was also appalled and said the union would find it “a major challenge to get the Norwegian people to understand” why it would consider telling police officers not to work in the midst of a national emergency.

The Conservative Party’s deputy leader Bent Høie also criticized the union, and said anyone involved in the crisis should have been confident that their work would be generously rewarded at a later point.

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Norwegian police end emergency carrying of arms

The temporary arming of all police in Norway, ordered after an attack in Kongsberg left five dead, ended on Friday morning. 

Police in Norway will no longer be armed after the temporary order was dropped. Pictured is a police van in Oslo.
Police in Norway will no longer be armed after the temporary order was dropped. Pictured is a police van in Oslo. Photo by David Hall on Flickr.

The order for all police in Norway to be armed following an attack in Kongsberg last week was lifted on Friday morning. 

The police said in a statement Friday that, based on the information it had received from police security service PST, there was no longer any basis for maintaining the national armament order. 

“Norwegian police are basically unarmed in daily service, with firearms being stored in police vehicles, and police can be armed in connection with specific missions when needed. In that sense, we are now moving to a normal situation,” Tone Vangen, emergency preparedness director for the police, said in a statement

The police had been armed since last Wednesday following the incident in Kongsberg where Danish citizen Espen Andersen Bråthen killed five with an undisclosed sharp object and shot at police with a bow and arrow.

During police questioning, Bråthen confessed to the killings and to wounding three others. 

Police said earlier this week that the victims were chosen at random. The Danish citizen was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Bråthen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

The 37-year-old had previously announced publicly that he had converted to Islam and police initially reported that there had been fears of radicalisation. 

But police later said that mental illness was to be considered the primary motive for the attack. 

 “As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said to reporters earlier this week.