The Neo-Nazis in Germany’s Police You Probably Haven’t Heard About
****by contributing writer Emily Colby****
BERLIN-In April of 2018 Reuters published an article publicizing news of a recent report that identified the presence of Germany citizens who belong to the group known as “Reichsbuerger.” This is an extremist group that propagates the belief in, and continuation of the Third Reich, despite Germany’s defeat in WWII. An estimated dozens of Germans belong to the Reichsbuerger today, a portion of whom are thought to hold ranks in Germany’s army and police force. As of April, 2018, five cases had already been identified within Germany’s armed forces.
When reached out to, Germany’s intelligence agency did not comment. Perhaps if German officials are at a loss for words, they could learn from the Israel Police Force (IPF), which has done a great deal of work to improve its relationship with the public it serves. Despite American media’s tendency to paint the Israel Police Force with broad brush strokes, often shining a disproportionate amount of light on violent skirmishes between police and minorities, success within the IPF has been on the rise in recent years.
One such example of this success can be found in the improved relationship between Israeli citizens and police officers. The current head of police, Roni Alsheikh, has shown talent. Alsheikh was appointed to his position in 2015.
Seeking to increase trust between citizens and officers, Alsheikh initiated reforms known as, “Emun” (trust) based on concepts of “low-policing.” Low-policing has been described by Comm. Lilach Laufman-Gavri, head of the Israel National Police’s (INP) Strategic and Research Department as focusing “on the normative citizen and addresses the problems in their communities. We have asked people what bothers them, and then took steps to make proactive changes.”
Studies since reforms were put in place have shown promise, showing national decreases for 911 calls reporting violence, drops in property crimes and decreases in domestic noise complaints. The studies that analyzed the results of these reforms were carried out by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in collaboration with the INP. They took from a diverse range of voices to serve as their sample, including members of the Arab community, and ultra-Orthodox Jews, two groups in particular that have often clashed with Israeli Police in the past.
Comm. Laufman-Gavri was even invited to speak at the 2017 American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, a great honor for the state of Israel.
In the meantime, there is hope for improvement within Berlin’s police force. In April of this year the previous police chief, Klaus Kandt was unexpectedly removed from his position and replaced with Barbara Slowik. Slowik is the first woman to take on the role. She shows great promise. No doubt her actions will be followed closely, as the need for reform in Germany’s policing is dire.