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Berlin police chief is managing ‘perceived crime’

The Berlin police chief praised the security situation in her city in an interview. Her goal is now to improve the "perceived security".

Published: December 21, 2018, 8:10 am

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    Berlin

    Police chief Barbara Slowik, in a self-confident, and some would say, complacent interview with Zeit Online, described the security situation in Berlin as “very good”.

    “The crime figures of 2017 are excellent,” she said. “We are seeing quite astonishing declines in areas that directly affect the population, burglary and pickpocketing, for example. The likelihood of becoming a victim of a crime in Berlin is as low as it was in 1998.”

    Slowik reported improvements in many areas, including in the processing of the attack in 2016 on the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz. “I believe that we are fully up to date, including in the committees of inquiry. Fifty employees from my office are still busy with the processing,” said Slowik.

    But the State Criminal Investigation Office admitted two years after the attack that it had secret service people monitoring the assassin, creating the impression that the police had prior knowledge of the movements in the jihadist sphere.

    Slowik dismissed the notion and suggested that everything has been revealed. “I really think that we educate comprehensively. From my point of view, everything is now on the table.”

    As remaining problem areas Slowik singled out vehicle theft, crime in Görlitzer Park and Warsaw Bridge. The police chief expressly praised the public relations of the Berlin police. She said her police department was a pioneer in social media and “we are probably the first to use influencer marketing”.

    Slowik criticized the media in the interview, however, because they like to report violence “in detail”. As an example, she cited the lack of reporting on Alexanderplatz, where “the new police station and an investigation team” have achieved an “impressive change”.

    In her interview Slowik calls the promotion of “perceived security” her main task. The “perceived insecurity” she claims, does not reflect the actual threat situation, but is the result of distorted coverage.

    At Hardenbergplatz – not a particularly crime-prone place – she has stationed a mobile guard, because it gives people the “feeling” of security, according to Slowik.

    A staff representative criticized Slowik in a now deleted tweet. While she publicly raves about “perceived security”, the police chief is afraid to go jogging on the Tempelhof field, right next to her office.

    On the Twitter account of the Berlin police, the police chief dismissed these allegations as “nonsense”.

    But the Berlin daily, Tagesspiegel confirmed the assertion of the Staff Committee member and reported, citing police officers, that Slowik said in a small group that she found the Tempelhof field too unsafe and they are afraid that something could happen there.

    Either Berlin has a grave security problem, or the chief of police should start rethinking on the notion of ​​”perceived security”.

    In October this year, a PR coup of the Berlin police backfired – not only because there are much more professional and humorous police videos: The four-minute video was directed and produced by Tahsin Özkan.

    In March 2016, he had produced a violent and Islamist-glorifying music video with rapper SadiQ. The Federal Examination Office for Media at Risk placed the video on the index after it was reported by the Brandenburg police in January 2017. According to the Interior Ministry, it was the first video from the Islamist spectrum that was indexed after a complaint.

    Some three years ago, Tahsin Özkan also had contact with the milieu of large Arab gangs, as another Youtube video from 2015 shows.

    In a sample of the 3930 prison population of Berlin 31 March 2018, 51 percent had no German citizenship. Of the individuals in pre-trial detention facilities, 75 percent had foreign nationality, the Berliner Morgenpost reported.

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