Following criticism over the actions of police during the terrorist attacks on July 22, 2011, Norwegian National Police Commissioner Oystein Maeland, has stepped down.
Maeland had a rough start. He had only been commissioner for a month when 77 people died in the most deadly incident in postwar Norwegian history.
The Norwegian July 22 Commission, stated last week that the police could have made it to Utoya Island more quickly, where the mass shootings at the summer camp took place, and the first police to arrive should have tried to stop the massacre.
News of Mealand’s resignation came somewhat unexpectedly during a live TV debate on Norwegian state television (NRK) late last week. Maeland said that he felt that he did not have the trust of Minister of Justice Grete Faremo. Faremo had previously declared herself biased with regard to Maeland, due to them having a personal relationship.
Faremo has herself been criticized for her actions. She came into office after the terrorist attacks, but has not addressed the issue of her own possible bias until she launched an investigation last week.
“When the minister of justice declared herself biased, it became impossible for Maeland to remain,” Geir Gudmundsen, chief of police of Hordaland Police District told NRK.
Maeland had previously notified the minister of justice that he would resign in a letter. In the letter, he expressed that he would have liked to go on, according to NRK.
“I was ready to shoulder the responsibility of leading the work for improving the Norwegian police, and I also felt strong support from the country’s chiefs of police today,” Maeland said in the letter, according to NRK.
Many regional police chiefs have since expressed worry that the work to improve the Norwegian police will slow down because of Maeland’s resignation.
“This is a worst case scenario,” said Arnstein Nilssen, police chief of the Nordmore and Romsdal Police District, reported Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said after the terrorist attacks that people should remain at their posts and accept responsibility. NRK political commentator Kyrre Nakkim suspects Maeland’s resignation may trigger more resignations.
“This has shown that there is a problem with the culture within the Norwegian police, and that more people may have to step down. Who and how many is not clear, but I think a new national commissioner will have his work cut out for him,” Nakkim said.
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