Ministry: Defense League rather than Defense Forces best suited for assisting police

Members of the Estonian Defence League
Members of the Estonian Defence League Source: Martin Andreller, Karri Kaas/

The Ministry of the Interior believes police could provide training for military conscripts in order to include them in law enforcement when necessary. The Ministry of Defense has not immediately rejected the plan, but sees members of the Defense League better suited for assisting police.

Head of the Ministry of the Interior Rescue and Crisis Management Policy Department Jaanis Otsla told ERR that the ministry will soon introduce a proposed legislation that would allow the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) to include additional reinforcement during a crisis situation.

"The other issue we have developed further is how to include assistant police officers during larger crises and how to use the existing Defense League and potential Defense Forces resources," Otsla said.

Last summer the ministry looked to the Defense Forces reserve and officials were even discussing the option of subordinating half of the military police reserve to the interior ministry. Director of the Ministry of Defense Defense Readiness Department Marti Magnus says this idea has not progressed far.

"We are currently operating under the existing agreements, that is, conscription is what concerns our defense capabilities development. The two ministries have not agreed on specific rules of the PPA crisis reserve," Magnus said.

Even though the defense ministry didn't agree to allocating reservists under the interior ministry's command, it doesn't mean that their cooperation is poor. The recent emergency situation proved that the police will receive help from the defense forces if necessary.

During the emergency situation, police provided necessary training regarding use of force for 1,000 Estonian Defense League members, 190 of whom were used to either help guard the state border or maintain law in Saaremaa and Muhu. Otsla added that the accelerated training provided to them was extremely basic, saying that assistant police officers will be trained for at least two weeks. "During these eight hours, very basic overview of lawful use of force and its overal principles were provided. It definitely was not enough," he noted.

"We haven't agreed with the defense ministry on how and if we could conduct preventive longer-term training for crisis situations, in order to provide proper preparation for those included," Otsla said.

On Wednesday, the interior ministry sent to the defense ministry a proposal, noting that police could organize training during conscription or gatherings of reserve training. "We are waiting for the position of the defense ministry - whether this approach of providing training for conscripts during military service, that is, combining it with military training, will even be acceptable to them," Otsla explained.

Marti Magnus says military police training does include law enforcing elements. "The viewpoint of the defense ministry is that we won't make urgent amendments to compulsory military service training," he said, adding that the interior ministry's proposal will not be immediately rejected, but carefully discussed.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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