Tag Archives: politics

Wake-Up Call

Partyzone Berlin: So gesichert wie nie (which translates roughly to Party zone Berlin: Secured like never before) is  the title of a newspaper article about the heightened security measures for the New Year's Eve party in Berlin. Expecting up to one million visitors, there will be 900 policemen (150 more than the year before), a ban of backpacks as well as big bags, and a fenced-in exclusion  zone around the event area. One year later, the expected 200.000 attendees of the New Year's Eve Party on December 31, 2016, will be protected by 1.000 policemen armed with submachine guns and the access roads to the exclusion zone will be blocked by armored vehicles, trucks, and concrete blocks (source with photos).

To appreciate the degree of desperation, you need to know that in the last two years, only two out of formerly 17 shooting ranges (five out of formerly 73 shooting lanes) were available for Berlin's police force for some time. On average, police officers had two minutes of shooting exercises per year and about 700 policemen were unable to complete their obligatory one-time training per year (source, source, source, source).

After the September 11 attacks, I started to see groups of policemen patroling airports, one of them being armed with a submachine gun. Next, policemen across Germany started wearing ballistic vests. On New Year's Eve, I was at the Berlin city center less than one kilometre away from the German parliament and most policemen carried submachine guns; there were even three policemen with submachine guns guarding the club where I celebrated New Year's Eve. Although Christmas season is over now, you can see policemen in Berlin's government district with submachine guns every day. It is planned that Berlin's police will upgrade its existing ballistic vests and acquire 6300 new ballistic vests, 12.000 new pistols, as well as new submachine guns for 8.8 Million Euros (there are 17.000 policemen in Berlin).

When I visited New York in 2009, I was dumbfounded seeing two policemen patroling the streets wearing body armor and carrying machine guns. In 2016, heavily armed police in Germany is a common sight. Something is amiss in Germany and militarizing the police will only suppress the symptoms but not cure the disease.