A Police democratises itself

Diskussionskommando Berlin

 Plainclothes beats

According to our general field test duties we were on beat in plainclothes, patrolling areas with increasing burglary and unsafe car parks. We were continuously updated about the hot-spots by the criminal investigation department's regular reports and additionally by the expertise of single officers who knew "their turf". For exam- ple, at some moment in time on Schloss- strasse in Steglitz more and more shop windows were smashed in and looted. That series could be stopped thanks to three units in civilian cars on beat around this small neighborhood alone, who were checking out the side-streets and were able to act full-speed. The news of our presence got around the interested parties full-speed too, which made our work sustainably effective. People stealing whole cars or things from out of cars in dark parking lots were caught in the act and arrested, and often thefts could be prevented. These night beats produced some sense of achievement which compen- sated at least slightly for our frustration elsewhere. Our success had obvious reasons: we were not bound to the usual police district or department perimeters. If another hot-spot turned up during a night beat, we could immediately move there, unhindered by the usual red tape. We didn't need orders nor fiat. Our cars were interconnected by a special radio circuit. No time was lost due to communication. 
Copyright  D e t l e f   W u l f f  2008-2016 / English:  P i e k e  B i e r m a n n, Berlin Germany

68th Revolt

A Police democratises itself
Plainclothes recon before big rallies, however, was not all that successful. Some of our car tags were known, the radio antennas were recognizable even from far away. Plus, police vehicles tend to be freshly washed and brightly polished, no matter how dirty the weather. And we sadly couldn't do anything against it, as the cars did not belong to us. The very first question of the watch commander when we gave them back at, say, 4 a.m. was a hostile: "Did'ya clean it?" In mass events with violence-happy participants our concept was not feasable. You need to be very close to a venue if you want to get useful information, i.e. we had to move through bunches of violent people with our civilian vehicles. It might work twice, but the third car would be already expected. During one deployment at „Deutschlandhalle“ (famous West Berlin venue for rock concerts etc) somebody rammed the windshield of one of our cars with a square wooden plank, leaving the co- driver with a serious head injury. The rest of us were able to escape in a last-minute veer. I had to launch a harsh complaint at the emergency ward of the Universitäts- klinik Charlottenburg, before they attended the bleeding head of our colleague. Not an isolated case in those days, civilians injured during evictions would usually be attended first. That's what they called solidarity.