Slavko Lovric is the Chief of Police of Travnik. He works in the heart of the old city at the main police station. Lovric, a Bosnian Croat, has 146 officers under his command, a majority of whom are Bosniaks, reflecting the ethnic composition of the municipality.
Travnik's police force today is ethnically mixed, though this was not always the case. At the end of the war there were two police forces in the canton, one Bosniak, one Croat, with separate uniforms, insignia, offices, budgets and command structures. They operated in areas that "their" respective army controlled at the end of the war. Citizens had either "Croat" or "Bosniak" licence plates on their cars. Freedom of movement to respective "other" areas was restricted; in the early post-war days it was dangerous to move into territories controlled by other ethnic groups.
Between 1997 and 1998, 13 returnees were killed in Travnik municipality. The unification of the police forces, therefore, was a hotly contested issue. Initially, there were serious problems. Two Croat policemen were killed in Travnik in 1998 and in 1999 another was badly wounded in a car bomb explosion. Since then, however, the situation has improved dramatically.
Today Central Bosnia is very safe. Across the whole canton, there were only seven murders in 2005 and 2006, all of which have been solved. None was ethnically motivated. Ethnically-motivated crime, in fact, is noticeable by its absence: only three cases of "provocation of racial or ethnic hatred" were reported in 2006; two had been reported in 2005.
Fortress and old town of Travnik. Photo: Alan Grant
Nowadays, says Lovric, the major security issue is car theft. The problem became particularly prevalent after 2000.
"At the time we had hardly any information systems with which to make checks, but now things work much better as we have excellent cooperation with INTERPOL and the RS police. But it is still a problem."
However, even this problem appears manageable. There have been 210 cases of car theft in the canton in 2006, down from 239 the previous year.
The overall clearance rate for crimes is around 65 percent – a good result, by international standards.
While police patrols – in order to win the confidence of ordinary citizens – have been ethnically mixed since 1997, the Travnik force has started to relax this practice over the past year. Slavko Lovric explains:
"We no longer see people viewing the police from a national perspective. We have no complaints about discrimination because of ethnicity."