Monday 30th November 2020
Chancellor Angela Merkel dealt with the concerns and questions of police officers in a video chat. The desire for clearer rules and guidelines in the Corona crisis instead of new and often regionally differing regulations was expressed several times.
In the conversation, Merkel warned of a third corona wave in the event that people in Germany did not behave with great caution in the upcoming winter. “We’ll have to be very, very careful in winter,” she said. “Otherwise we’ll be back in the next wave straight away.” People are less well equipped against the virus in winter. “We still have to get through these winter months,” declared the Chancellor. However, corona rapid tests, with which one will “get along better”, would now bring relief, according to Merkel.
A police officer from Berlin noted an increase in the willingness to use violence among people who protest against the measures taken by the federal and state governments to contain the pandemic. A certain reliability of the regulation and standards is important, he emphasized. Because even citizens who are ready in principle to abide by the rules are often not exactly in the picture about what is currently valid.
“Don’t look away at extremism”
Gerke Stüven, head of the police commissioner in Wildeshausen in Lower Saxony, said that “it is difficult for us as the police to work with appeals and recommendations”. The officers needed a “legally secure room for action”, as they would otherwise not be entitled to enter properties, for example, to enforce contact restrictions. A police officer from Thuringia said that, since the beginning of the pandemic, he has heard sentences like “I don’t want to do your job at the moment”. An officer from the Harz region said she would like more corona tests for police officers, who are often forced to come close to other people physically on duty, during searches, arrests or when someone offers resistance.
“We know what you are doing and what you are doing for us,” Merkel expressed her respect for the work of the police under the particularly difficult circumstances of the corona pandemic. The police are currently a professional group “that is particularly challenged”. The Chancellor renewed her promise that, in addition to members of risk groups, police officers should primarily be given the opportunity to vaccinate, “if not the first”.
Beyond Covid-19, the police also addressed the current debate on racism and right-wing extremism in the police force. A police officer from Erfurt said that since these were only isolated cases, one had to proceed in a targeted manner in combating this phenomenon and not lump everyone together. Merkel expressed her understanding when officials were annoyed by blanket allegations and, on the other hand, assured political support. But she also emphasized: “We must not look the other way when there is extremism in the police.”