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, but 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 and in the early post-war days it was dangerous to move into territories controlled by other ethnic groups.
In 1997 and 1998, 13 returnees were killed in Travnik municipality. So the unification of the police forces was a hotly contested issue. Initially there were serious problems. Two Croat policemen were killed in Travnik in 1998 and in 1999 another one was badly wounded by a car bomb. However, since then the situation has improved dramatically.
Today Central Bosnia is very safe. In the whole canton, in 2005 and 2006 there were only seven murders, all of which have been resolved. None of them was ethnically motivated. There is virtually no ethnically-motivated crime: only three cases of "provocation of racial or ethnic hatred" were reported in 2006, two in 2005.
Fortress and old town of Travnik. Photo: Alan Grant
Lovric says the major security issue now is car theft. The problem became particularly prevalent after the year 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 still it is a problem."
However, even this problem appears manageable. There have been 210 cases of car theft in the canton in 2006, down from 239 in the previous year.
The overall clearance rate for crimes is around 65 percent which is – by international comparisons – a good result.
While police patrols have been ethnically mixed since 1997 in order to help ordinary citizens gain confidence in the police, in the past year police in Travnik has started to relax this practice. Slavko Lovric explains:
"We no longer see people viewing the police from a national perspective. We have no complaints about discrimination because of ethnicity."