Violence against police officers is increasing
They want to ensure law and order and are increasingly becoming the target of attacks themselves. Police officers are insulted, insulted and spat on. Harald hoffmann, head of the kitzingen inspection department, speaks of an increasing potential for aggression – and has little hope that this will change in the near future.
Question: you have been in the service for more than 30 years. Since when has violence against police officers become such a problem?
Harald hoffmann: the issue has become increasingly explosive in recent years. However, we have only had reliable figures since 2010.
There was violence against police officers in the past, too.
Hoffmann: that is correct. I was a young policeman on duty in wackersdorf. The difference is that back then it was almost always about a separate subject area. The people did not want a reprocessing plant in front of their house. Nowadays, attacks can occur in normal control situations.
Has respect been lost?
Hoffmann: certainly not in the majority of the population. In the concrete fall but already. I notice again and again that the entirety of the state's actions is questioned more often than before. The citizens are more willing to complain, they also question the behavior of the police.
That's basically fine.
Hoffmann: i see it that way too. But it must not drift into violence. But this happens more and more often.
"People go crazy from one moment to the next." harald hoffmann, head of the kitzingen police department
do you have an example?
Hoffmann: let's take the controls at wine festivals. The colleagues only want to check the personal data, but then they have to be insulted in an unflattering way. There are threats, some people stay, scratch and spit. This can go as far as headbutting. All because of a simple control.
What figures do you have on violence against police officers??
Hoffmann: they apply to the entire free state. And in 2016 it looked like this: 6250 offenders, an increase of ten percent compared to 2015.
And here in the district?
Hoffmann: the tendency is similar there. Of an average of 90 civil servants working here, 67 have had such experiences in the last year. More than two thirds.
"We have new protective equipment, we have a spit shield that you can put on the attackers. But at the first attack you are usually quite defenseless." harald hoffmann,
what exactly is happening?
Hoffmann: that is quite different. The palette ranges from rather harmless insults to vicious threats – even against the family members of colleagues. And unfortunately there are also massive injuries.
We recently reported about the two colleagues who were approached during a traffic control.
Hoffmann: both had to go to hospital, one colleague suffered a broken nose.
How do colleagues deal with such incidents??
Hoffmann: surprisingly matter-of-fact. They wonder how they could have avoided the situation, how they could protect themselves better next time.
Is there a better way to protect yourself??
Hoffmann: in principle, yes. We have a new protective equipment, we have a spit shield that you can put on the attackers. But when you are first attacked, you are usually pretty defenseless.
Because it comes as a surprise?
Hoffmann: that's how it is. People turn on from one moment to the next.
What kind of people are they? Do they have a particularly high potential for aggression?? Are drugs involved? Alcohol?
Hoffmann: almost always alcohol. And it is above all the repeat offenders who are causing us problems. A noticeable number of them keep showing up.
What kind of people are they?
Hoffmann: many of them do not have a regular job. Two-thirds are under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the checks.
Are they mainly young men??
Hoffmann: about 70 percent are men, about 30 percent women. You won't believe it, but even they can develop incredible strength when drunk. It sometimes takes four colleagues to get you into a cell. A colleague tore a ligament in his shoulder during one such operation and was out for several months.
And in the cell there is finally peace?
Hoffmann: my ass. These people are really incited. We once had a man who managed, however he did it, to get to a water tap through the bars with a piece of clothing. He ripped it out and destroyed everything possible in the cell. And he stood with a sharp-edged object against an officer.
How do your colleagues deal with such incidents??
Hoffmann: we have new protective gear, changed our operational training and coordinated our behavior in such cases with all our colleagues in bavaria.
Do you have an explanation for why the number of these offenders is increasing??
Hoffmann: a perceived social justice is the best crime strategy. Maybe social justice is no longer perceived as such in recent years. But this is a very political assumption on my part. One thing is certain: if you feel abandoned by the state, you no longer recognize the tools of the state. And with that it hits us.
It does not seem that the problem will solve itself.
Hoffmann: certainly not, i expect violence against police officers to increase even more.
"I expect violence against police officers to increase even more" harald hoffmann
what would help? Harder punishments?
Hoffmann: I already have the impression that these offenders are encouraged because not much happens. However, since may we have a remarkable law renewal. Any assault of a police officer will be punishable immediately. Essential for me is the following addition: every assault against police officers is punished with a minimum prison sentence of three months. I can support the statement behind it one hundred percent: whoever actually assaults a police officer belongs in jail.