The German Federal Police - for a secure Germany
Updated: Feb 1
The German Federal Police is present today at all central points of civilian life. It plays a crucial role in ensuring a stable security situation within the Federal Republic of Germany by performing a variety of tasks to protect the system of order.
From the Federal Border Police to the Universal Unit
The Federal Police, as before 01.07.2005, protected the German national borders since 16.03.1951 as a Federal Border Police under Article 73 I No. 5, of the German constitution (Grundgesetz).
As early as the 1970s, there was a change in the range of tasks of the Federal Border Police. However, the definitive renaming did not take place until 2005 and against domestic concerns, which feared a loss of competence. Through the reunification of Germany and the Schengen Agreement, the police control activities and border-protecting operations were largely replaced. Instead, the German police forces focused on operations in the air and rail traffic as well as on the preservation of the internal security system.
The Organization of the Federal Police and their Departments
The Federal Ministry of the Interior is superior to the Federal Police Headquarters. The Federal Police Headquarters, based in Potsdam under the direction of the President and Vice-President, is divided into the steering committee and the management office, the trust office and the staff units for press and public relations as well as internal affairs.
Besides, it is divided into eight departments, each with subordinate units. By the department names (situation and evaluation, secret sabotage protection, security, crime control, international affairs, information and communication technology center, police technology, material management, law, personnel, education and training, top sports funding, household, organization, medical and safety service) is already recognizable which the police cover fields of activity.
Throughout Germany, there are ten federal police departments, each with one departmental leader. That is superordinate to the Directorate preparedness police with seat in Fuldatal, which organizes the Federal police departments organisationally. In addition to these administrative departments, there are still the operational units that actively intervene for example with the groups of hundreds, units for preserving evidence or for reconnaissance work.
The federal police and its sub-units cover a large field of activity and ensure comprehensive preventive security as well as repressive prosecution. Specific laws regulate the scope of the tasks and what measures the police officers may take, in particular, the Federal Police Act. The basis of the BPolG is the Federal Border Police Act of 19.10.1994, which was incorporated into the BPolG with the Act to Rename the Federal Border Police in the Federal Police.
There is a competence regulation between the federal states and the federal government that means the distribution of tasks is determined by law. Deviations may arise in the agreement or if the competencies are ceded voluntarily. As Europeanization progresses, however, supranational regulations are gaining in importance and influencing the powers of German police officers.
The protection of the federal territory by police surveillance operations at the borders on land, on the water and in the air still counts to the control circle of the police, unless the state police are responsible. To be able to protect the borders of the country, border crossings effectively, legitimacy and identification documents must be checked. However, border management is no longer the core task. Preferably, several new fields of application have been added in the last 40 years. There is, for example, the riot control police, which provides comprehensive services through their deployment, evidential, detention, and technical detachments. The Federal riot control police intervene to assist the state police or the Federal Criminal Department Office on special occasions with high-security needs or in specific danger situations. In addition, the federal police has several specialized units, such as the Federal Police Flying Squad, the GSG 9 a highly trained unit for counter-terrorism and against organized crime, the Federal Police Information and Communication Center (BPOL-ZSIUK), the preservation and arrest units and the Federal Police See Office as part of the German Coast Guard. Also, the federal police are working to ensure the safety of rail traffic by recognizing and eliminating risks to public safety and order in the stations or on the railway tracks. However, social coexistence should not only be guaranteed on land, but also in the air. To be able to prevent attacks on air traffic, inspections of the items carried at German airports take place. If travelers carry dangerous objects or terrorism blocks the air traffic, trained police personnel can take appropriate action, disarm explosives or secure objects.
A large contingent of police equipment is indispensable in the face of the multiple tasks that the police have to deal with it. Some equipment elements are worn directly on the belt and are always at hand. That includes, e.g. the digital handheld radio. It is not common for every police officer to have their mobile radio. However, every dismounted patrol and patrol car is equipped with at least one radio.
Also, on the belt are steel handcuffs in a case of arrest. Other standard equipment also includes the irritant gas in spray cans of various sizes. Even flashlights as a suitable resource of light in the dark in different versions (especially the Maglite but also smaller models) are worn directly on the man. Also, batons made of materials like rubber, hard plastic, wood or metal. With the firearms, HK P30 with a caliber of 9 x 19 mm from Heckler & Koch, the tactical belt weighs almost six kilograms.
The HK P30 is primarily designed as a police self-loading pistol of the German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch and is an evolution of the HK P2000. Besides, the police use animal support. So, e.g. police dogs K9 are used when it comes to increased protection or the detection of special substances and persons or bodies. Also, service horses are used by horse squadrons. Due to their balance, only geldings with a minimum age of three years can be considered as police horses. They give the police officer an elevated position and thus a better all-round view of crowds. In addition to these work tools, the police equipment also includes service clothing.
The police uniforms replace, since 2004 the green-and-beige model, has been operating in the federal states in Germany and since 2016 in blue shades nationwide. The reason for the new color scheme is a uniform European appearance. The dress can be supplemented by protective clothing such as gloves, helmet or protective vests. Gloves ensure protection against, e.g. cuts and infections; the helmet protects against stones and bullets, and the vest made of Kevlar reduces the risk of a deadly gunshot or stab injury.
However, the German police also resort to other, much larger resources in their missions. These include motorized vehicles on land, air, and water. It also has emergency vehicles, special vehicles, trucks, buses, and motorcycles. These vehicles can be suitable for urban traffic as well as for the rough terrain. The vehicles are from different brands such as VW, Mercedes, BMW or Ford. These are now wearing the blue-white / blue-silver color design.
The police equipment for air operations includes SAR (Search and Rescue) and training helicopters. Thus, the German police take over tasks in the field of observation or transport of police officers to their locations. The different helicopter models (Oriole, Buzzard, Phoenix, Hawk) all go back to the manufacturer Eurocopter. However, also, watercraft are used by the police to secure the sea and rescue the needy. The fleet includes service vessels, patrol boats and inflatable boats with length differences of more than 20 meters.
In addition to the typical equipment components, there are also those that are used only in exceptional cases. These include Segway’s for urban areas or water cannons, which are used by demonstrations and riots and contain a mixture of water and irritants. In the course of the current rearmament against terrorist attacks even single armored vehicles (Eagle IV) and assault rifles like the HK G36 count to the stock of the police.