End of Berlin model project: Politicians, police dispute about tasers

Since the turn of the millennium, German special forces have been equipped with „distance electric pulse devices“, and more and more states now allow them in patrol duty. Within three years, six people died in Germany after being shot. The use of this weapon is contested in Berlin.

For five years, the police in Berlin have been testing tasers in everyday service. The Berlin tabloid B.Z. reported last week that this trial run, which has already been extended by one year, is to end without continuing, citing an email from State Secretary Torsten Akmann (Social Democratic Party, SPD). His party colleague and superior Senator of the Interior, Iris Spranger, contradicts this today in a press release that begins with the words „The taser must stay“. The Social Democrat had already made similar statements to the dpa press agency. „End of Berlin model project: Politicians, police dispute about tasers“ weiterlesen

„Thin Blue Line“: German police divided on extremist iconography

An internal paper of the Bavarian Police problematises a symbol which stands for a conspiratorial community of solidarity. According to the paper, it is widespread in right-wing police circles and could violate the principle of neutrality and lead to disciplinary consequences. Not all police officers see it that way.

Earlier this year I reported on the handling of the so-called „Thin Blue Line“ (TBL) within the German police. For many officers, the symbol of this thin blue line on a black background signifies the protection of society from crime, violence and chaos, which, according to this reading, only they could provide. Others want it to be understood as a sign of solidarity and recognition of injured and killed colleagues. What all the different interpretations have in common is that the police see themselves as a conspiratorial community of solidarity.

The article was prompted by renewed statements by police authorities, in this case from Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate, which referred positively to the blue and black symbolism over Christmas. The police in Mannheim subsequently deleted a corresponding tweet. „„Thin Blue Line“: German police divided on extremist iconography“ weiterlesen

Police in Hesse expand use of „Super Recognisers“

In Frankfurt, two full-time officers are now working for the humanoid facial recognition. Every day, they compare current wanted persons with existing pictures in police databases. The procedure is also supposed to work with concealed faces.

Since November 2020, the Hessian police have been testing the use of so-called „Super Recognisers“ for everyday investigations, manhunts, at events and political assemblies. These are people with the talent to memorise faces and recognise them in pictures or even in a crowd.

An estimated one to two percent of all people are said to have this ability, British scientist Josh Davis found out within the Metropolitan Police. In the course of his study for the University of Greenwich, he noticed that the same officers were always able to identify a particularly large number of suspects on video footage. Recognition is said to be possible even if the image of the person being searched is a photo that is several years old. „Police in Hesse expand use of „Super Recognisers““ weiterlesen

Tracking corona infections: German Luca app in a downfall

Five Länder no longer renew their contracts with culture4life, the company’s new business model could also run into turbulence

So far, 13 German federal states have used the Luca app to warn of Corona infections, but at least five governments want to do without it in the future. Most recently, Berlin announced that it would no longer extend its contract with the manufacturer culture4life GmbH. Previously, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen dropped out. According to Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Brandenburg is also planning to end its use.

The Luca app is used in restaurants, cafés, shops, but also public institutions. Hosts and organisers can create a QR code that visitors can then scan with the app and leave their personal data. Conversely, it is possible for the host to read a QR code stored on the mobile phone at the entrance control. The service also works without an app via an internet browser. „Tracking corona infections: German Luca app in a downfall“ weiterlesen

More German state police forces introduce tasers for patrol police

Four out of 16 federal states are now introducing electric pulse weapons across the board. The right-wing conservative police union DPolG has declared itself to be the mastermind and is sponsored by a manufacturer. Whether the officers will use less violence with the new weapons, as claimed, is questionable. Every year there are two deaths in Germany after being tasered

Shortly after the end of a pilot project in five large cities, the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia approved another 4.5 million Euros for the procurement of 620 Tasers. The weapons, in Germany known to the police as „distance electric pulse devices“, are now to be used in twelve more cities, including Aachen, Bochum, Gütersloh, Münster and Wuppertal, as well as parts of the Sauerland region. Currently, there are 766 Tasers in use by the police of Germany’s largest state, according to two Paderborn MPs. Altogether, the stock will thus be expanded to more than 1,360 devices; the total cost of the procurement is 8.5 million euros. This also includes training.

Only recently, the German Press Agency (dpa) had presented figures after a survey. According to this, the police in North Rhine-Westphalia drew the taser almost 160 times in their pilot test until the end of September 2021. This involved 123 threats and 31 actual firings. Two times, the devices were used in contact mode, where the electric shock is delivered directly to the target’s body without the usual wires. „More German state police forces introduce tasers for patrol police“ weiterlesen

Germany: Bavaria upgrades police aerial surveillance

The Bavarian government is stepping up police video surveillance. In addition to aerial observation and mobile camera vans, the interior minister announces research into facial, behavioural and pattern recognition.

As probably the first German authority with security tasks, the Bavarian police creates a balloon for video surveillance. Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) showed the device at a press conference yesterday. It is launched from a trailer and attached to a 300-metre long line. The police calls it a „tethered helium balloon with video technology“.

The presentation took place on the occasion of the establishment of a new „Coordination Office Video“ (KOST), which Herrmann also presented to the public for the first time yesterday. The KOST is located at the Munich Airport Police Station and is to bundle the „Bavaria-wide competences in the areas of deployment, law and technology“ and support all police headquarters accordingly. In this way, it „makes a significant contribution to Bavaria being by far the safest federal state“. „Germany: Bavaria upgrades police aerial surveillance“ weiterlesen

German police use drone to combat social benefit fraud

Along with Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the pioneers in the use of police drones. Now an unmanned aircraft is being used to track organised fraudulent benefits to the disfavor of the job centre

The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has procured a drone in order to convict „groups of offenders with a gang structure“ in the case of fraudulent social benefits. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in its answer to a parlamentarian question. The device, which was financed by the EU Internal Security Fund, is intended for the prosecution of „social benefit fraud by EU citizens“ in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Federal Ministry does not want to disclose which device it is and which company received the order for reasons of „public weal“. Otherwise, the addressees of the measure could protect themselves against it, writes Hans-Georg Engelke, the state secretary in charge. „German police use drone to combat social benefit fraud“ weiterlesen

Facial recognition: Number of persons identified in Germany doubles annually

The German police are increasingly using photographs to name unknown persons. More and more, pictures from social networks are being used. Recognition is also possible if the persons are wearing a protective mouth-nose mask. Some authorities also use so-called super-recognisers.

A growing number of people are being identified by German police forces with the help of facial recognition. Since 2018, they have doubled every year; in 2020, this amounted to 4,403 people. This is what the Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in its answer to a written question on the police facial recognition system (GES). Around one third of those affected were named by the Federal Police.

Since 2008, the GES has been centrally managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office and is available to the Federal Police and all 16 State Criminal Police Offices. A query can be made if a person is a suspect but his or her name is not known. The type of offence charged is irrelevant; the system can also be searched in the case of an insult or shoplifting. „Facial recognition: Number of persons identified in Germany doubles annually“ weiterlesen

Humanoid facial recognition arrives at German police

When pursuing suspected criminals, some state police forces use a special ability of individual officers. Deployments often take place in major events

Police forces are increasingly using so-called super-recognisers. These are people who are particularly good at remembering faces. An estimated one to two percent of all people are said to have this ability, as discovered by British scientist Josh Davis during a study within the Metropolitan Police. There, it was noticed that the same officers were always able to identify a particularly large number of suspects on video footage. „Humanoid facial recognition arrives at German police“ weiterlesen

Police in Germany launch large-scale drone project

North Rhine-Westphalia will equip the police with a total of 106 quadrocopters from 2021. They will also be used for the „pursuit of offenders“.

In Germany, more and more police authorities use quadrocopters, mainly to monitor the scene of violent crimes or after traffic accidents. The surveillance of political assemblies does occur, but these missions are still rare. Saxony first acquired small drones over ten years ago and flew them at football matches and demonstrations. In Lower Saxony, a quadrocopter once flew during a nuclear waste transport. In Freiburg, a special operations team recently brought quadrocopters to a house eviction.

Other missions took place this year during the first lockdown in spring. Police in Hesse and Bavaria launched quadrocopters to patrol Corona restrictions in parks, and they are also said to have been used on the island of Rügen. However, it is not known whether any footage was collected and processed in these operations. In North Rhine-Westphalia, drones with loudspeakers flew over green spaces to instruct the public. „Police in Germany launch large-scale drone project“ weiterlesen