Law Enforcement System in Berlin
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The law enforcement system in Germany is inimitable because, unlike other countries with centralized forms of government where federal police officers intervene in state affairs on a case-to-case basis, the law enforcement sector in each state, called the “Landespolizei” is solely responsible for handling state policing. On the other hand, Germany’s nationwide police called the Bundespolizei (BPOL) are only responsible for domestic security including border security, coast guard services, securing public establishments, airport and railway security, and rescue operations (INTERPOL, 2012). However, when a local crime becomes an international concern, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), which is INTERPOL’s governing agency in the country, steps in.
Since the Landespolizei is responsible for state policing, they establish their own laws and policies to enforce within their jurisdiction. In the country’s capital, Berlin, for instance, the Landespolizei, aside from focusing on common local incidents, also prioritize immigration cases, prevention of corruption and help in combating human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and terrorism by focusing all efforts to address these problems on the local level (Marin, 15). Moreover, the Berlin Police is attempting to make state policing more efficient by disseminating law enforcement into six districts called “Direktion” – Direktion 1 (Reinickendorf and Pankow), Direktion 2 (Spandau and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf), Direktion 3 (Mitte), Direktion 4 (Tempelhof-Schoneberg and Steglitz-Zehlendorf), Direktion 5 (Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Neukolln), and Direktion 6 (Marzahn-Hellersdorg, Treptow-Kopenick, and Lichtenberg).
Despite Germany’s efforts to erase incidences in the country’s Nazi past, various issues remain, especially in law enforcement. In recent news, for instance, Berlin Police was accused of failing to prevent the terrorist attacks of a neo-Nazi gang. One of the Berlin Police’s informants was a member of the neo-Nazi terror gang, and despite pertinent information of the gang’s plan, the authorities failed to respond accordingly, leading to the murder of ten locals (The Local, 2012a). Moreover, after the Berlin Police’s actions were called to question, the agency attempted to cover up their shortcomings (Gebauer, Robel, and Stark). In other news, the Berlin Police was also criticized for violating the privacy of locals with the agency’s use of software that “allows police investigators to monitor activity, and if the computer has a camera, peer right into the face of the user” (Birnbuam). In addition, the public is criticizing the current surveillance system installed by the Berlin Police. Although most locals understand the need for surveillance, some locals are uncomfortable with it out of fear of how the authorities might use information wrongfully. This displays the level of distrust the public has towards the Berlin Police.
Marin (18) discussed the results of a survey conducted in 1995 to determine the responses of Berlin citizens toward law enforcement in the state. Moreover, the survey was aimed at determining how well the citizens trust the police following the unification of East and West Germany. The survey revealed that citizens distrust law enforcement. According to Marin (19), the citizens “could not easily overcome their generalized distrust in any kind of police force given their experience with the repressive aspects of the old regime”. The GfK Group conducted a similar survey in Berlin in 2010 and discovered that since 1995, the citizens’ trust toward police officers has steadily grown, albeit not completely. The public still has a problem with how the Berlin Police deals with demonstrations and protesters, treats immigrants, especially Muslims in the community.