A police officer was revealed to the researchers. Some colleagues say: “Today we’re going to hunt Turks.” Then they went looking for them on patrols. Small things – for example, if someone forgot to blink – would then be exaggerated. This is what the official reported when asked for a nationwide study of the Ruhr-University Bochum, which was presented on Wednesday in Berlin.
Not an isolated case: the survey provides numerous indications of racist behavior by police officers. Since 2018, a total of 3370 people have been questioned and 63 expert interviews conducted for the study “Physical injury in office by police officers”. Now the data has been re-evaluated and examined for discriminatory behavior.
Professor Tobias Singelnstein from the Ruhr University summarizes the results as follows: “There is a structural problem in police practice.”
Alleged victims of illegal police violence reported clearly racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic insults. Police officers had confirmed this as behavior and statements from colleagues.
“Targeted devaluation of people with a migration background and people of color”
How big the “structural problem” is cannot be judged on the basis of the available data, because the survey was primarily about illegal police violence, says Singelnstein. It is all the more urgent that the federal government should now conduct its own study on racism among the police – which is currently being hotly debated.
“In our study, however, we also asked about experiences of discrimination,” reported the scientist. “There is a targeted devaluation of people with a migration background and people of color.”
One interviewee reported that she was called a “monkey girl” by the police. Most of them had experience of police violence, especially at major events.
In the case of people who, according to their own statements, are perceived as non-German, it was primarily so-called non-suspicion checks. “Suspicion-independent controls play a special role,” says Singelnstein. 62 percent of the People of Color and 42 percent of the people with a migrant background stated that they had been discriminated against by the police in violent situations. For the other respondents, it was 31 percent.
Many police officers did not knowingly act in a racist manner, but rather unconsciously and referred to experience. “Of course we address this in training,” reported Professor Astrid Jacobsen from the Lower Saxony Police Academy. “But in practice and under time pressure, a different logic then takes effect:” I stop those who look like this. “
Wendt speaks of a “bad campaign”
“It starts with being used and not being sung,” said Blaise Francis El Mourabit, a lawyer who regularly represents victims of discrimination. The police appear very authoritarian towards him and are quickly at hand with allegations. For example, while trying to document a police check with her cell phone, an African client “was fixed on the floor until she was unconscious”. There are police candidates who have dropped out of training because of the racist climate.
The lawyer called for an obligation to turn on the so-called bodycams of civil servants in the event of fundamental rights encroachments as well as a nationwide labeling obligation, for example with a service number. He himself had already dialed the police emergency number because he had been held by police officers who did not want to identify themselves.
When the police violence study was first published, the police union (GdP) indicated that the police enjoyed great trust and appreciation in all surveys. This would be different if something was wrong.
The chairman of the German police union, Rainer Wendt, spoke on Wednesday of “bad moods” and a “bad campaign” against the police. The statements are not scientifically tenable.
The data were collected via online surveys in 2018 and 2019. Despite 3370 respondents, the study is not representative. 16 percent of those surveyed stated that they had a migration background, five percent belonged to the People of Color group. The expert interviews were conducted between 2019 and 2020.