On 10 and 11th March 2016, the PSP Metropolitan Command of Lisbon proudly celebrated its 149th Anniversary with a number of events held in the Municipality of Odivelas and at the PSP Higher Superior Institute in Lisbon. Safe Communities Portugal was privileged to attend these events.

Having attended probably hundreds of these types of events in my police career, these can be very similar, but certainly not so in this case – this was different and very effective.

The celebrations started with a concert performed by the 70 member Symphonic Band of the PSP.  In front of a full capacity of around 700 people at the Multipurpose Pavilion in Odivelas, the concert included works by internationally renowned composers. The second part of the concert was performed by guest performer André Sardet together with the band, with titles well known to the general public. The whole event provided great music which was well acknowledged by several standing ovations – a fantastic evening.

On 11 March, the Monastery of São Dinis and São Bernardo, built in 13th century, in Odivelas was the venue for a mass to honour those PSP agents in PSP Lisbon who have given their lives on duty. This was followed by a ceremony in the grounds of the Monastery which was inspected by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Constance Sousa Urban.

This was followed by what can best be described as a unique ceremony which took place in a beautiful tiled assembly room in the Monastery. One usually expects many speeches, but this started with a magician followed by a brilliant choir who sang “Hallelujah”. This was probably the best rendition of that song I have heard live, especially with the acoustics only that sort of building oh this age can bring.

There were then the speeches including an very informative and professional presentation by Jorge Mauricio Commander of the Metropolitan police (previously Commander PSP Faro District), plus those from Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Odivelas, Hugo Martins, the National Director of PSP, Luis Farinha, and Minister of Interior Constance Sousa Urban.

Towards the end decorations were given to PSP officers and agents of the Public Security Police – in the areas of Distinguished Service, long service and Exemplar Behaviour. The ceremony ended by a very moving and emotive, audial and visual tribute by the Metropolitan Command Lisbon, to those agents killed in the line of duty, to the music of Amazing Grace beautifully sung by the choir. To finish the event the choir sang the Beatles hit “Hey Jude” – reaching out to the international audience who were gathered.

Following this a cake was cut by the Minister of Interior and other senior officials to celebrate the occasion.

In the after the PSP Higher Superior Institute was the venue for an international seminar on pickpocketing with presentations by police from several different countries. The objective was to share experiences and initiatives to help combat this problem which affects a number of international tourist destinations.

Interviewed by David Thomas, Superintendent Mauricio said: “The PSP, Lisbon Metropolitan Command covers an area where major events are taking place, such as political, social and sporting ones. Only with close local partnerships with our stakeholders and by adopting a team work philosophy can we effectively serve all the citizens (residents, those who are working in Lisbon metropolitan area and who are visiting us)”

He added “With the events we carried out on in 10th and 11th March we showed our commitment to our community, and the balance between a fast and efficient response to tackling serious and violent crime. We also emphasized our social responsibilities in our society by according high priority to proximity /community police activities mainly towards those who are more vulnerability; namely children, senior people and tourists. Our main goals, are based on Sir. Robert Peel principles, namely “obtaining the community support and confidence and to improve the quality of life of everyone we are serving.”

The 149th Anniversary was memorable through its diversity, creativeness and caring approach not only to those who had received medals, or had been killed in the line of duty but the community that the PSP Lisbon Command proudly serves.

Although not all such events are open to the public, for those that are Safe Communities Portugal, encourages those in the foreign community to take part, talk to police officers and learn more about the work that they do.