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Poland Table of Contents


Militia Forces

The ZOMO motorized riot troops, which played the most visible role in quelling demonstrations in 1980 and 1981, were reduced in size somewhat by the early 1990s and renamed Preventive Units of the Citizens' Militia (Oddzialy Prewencji Milicji Obywatelskiej-- OPMO). OPMO forces are restricted to roles such as crowd control at sporting events, ensuring safety in natural disasters, and assisting the regular police. In theory, higher government authority would be required for large OPMO contingents to be used.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, ORMO forces, which at one time numbered as many as 600,000 civilian volunteers, were used to augment regular police personnel at key trouble spots. In the early 1980s, ORMO harassed Solidarity members and prevented independent groups from organizing. Largely staffed by industrial workers who gained substantial privileges by monitoring their peers in the workplace, ORMO was the object of extreme resentment throughout the 1980s. Kiszczak attempted to promote ORMO as a valuable auxiliary police force, but the organization was abolished by the Sejm in 1990.

The Kiszczak reforms failed to reassure the public that the security agencies now were acting in the public interest. However, the collapse of the PZPR in 1990 made possible the ouster of Kiszczak and faster reduction of the autonomy of the security agencies. Kiszczak's successor, a journalist, put the Ministry of Internal Affairs under a civilian for the first time since martial law was declared.

Data as of October 1992