Police trainees investigated over rioting and ‘Heil Hitler’ call in Berlin

Seven men between the ages of 19 and 25 were temporarily detained on Monday evening after a witness reported them “bawling” and attacking public property. They all turned out to be police trainees.

Police trainees investigated over rioting and ‘Heil Hitler’ call in Berlin
Photo: DPA

The Staatsschutz (the political crime unit) are now investigating the case after the witness initially claimed that one of the men shouted the words “Heil Hitler.” During later questioning at the police station the man was not able to definitively say whether he heard those words.

The 40-year-old man had called the police after he witnessed the group of men shouting loudly and kicking electricity boxes and telephone junction boxes. When police officers tuned up they took the men’s details and at that point discovered that they were police academy trainees.

“We will look very closely at this incident,” said police chief Klaus Kandt on Tuesday. “Regardless of whether something criminal happened here or not, I expect that all trainees with the Berlin police act in a respectable way in their free time.”

The Berlin police have had their image tarnished by several controversies this year.

In November police chiefs were forced into a public denial of claims that their academy had been infiltrated by Arabic crime syndicates.

German Police Union spokesman Bodo Pfalzgraf sparked the controversy by telling broadcaster ZDF that there were “clear indications” that Arabic mafia families had developed a strategy of placing family members inside the police force.

Police chief Kandt dismissed the claims as “categorically false.”

“Nobody who has made complaints has presented any proof,” he said.

Meanwhile in June, a unit of the Berlin police that had been sent to Hamburg to secure the city during the G20 summit were sent home early after they held a raucous party at their lodgings.

Witnesses reported seeing the officers having public sex and urinating in groups on fences. Police chiefs in the capital announced an internal investigation into the incident, after admitting that the officers’ behaviour did not meet the standards expected from public servants.


Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.