Defund the Ordnungsamt

The Kölnische Rundschau reported on 14 January 2016 from the Deutsche Bank’s New Year’s reception under “streamlining and harmonisation” that further branches would be closed. It was fitting that Lord Mayor Henriette Reker, who was greeted with applause, called for more staff for the police and judiciary.

She also invited those present to join her in strengthening Cologne as a business location, saying that this was the “most impressive social policy there is”.

The strengthening of Cologne as a business location promoted by Ms Reker did not become “the most impressive social policy there is.” For lack of space, the two women’s shelters had to turn away hundreds of women seeking protection every year, the number of drug-related deaths reached a “new high” of 54 in 2021, the number of social housing units fell year by year and the numbers of homeless and homeless people increased.

Spiegel-TV put faces to this distress and misery in Cologne and interviewed homeless drug addicts and accompanied them through their everyday lives with cameras.

In this two-hour programme, a drug addict complains about the staff of the public order office because they yelled loudly at her to leave the stairs she was sitting on. She asks why they can’t say that in a decent tone.

Police reporter Alexander Holecek interviewed Wolfgang Büscher (65), the retiring head of the public order department of the city of Cologne, in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on 17 August 2022.  The interview in the print edition had the title: “Things were always easy with me”.  The title of the online edition: “Ordnungsamt ist kein Zuckerschlecken.

Wolfgang Büscher: “I don’t know a single member of staff who acts arbitrarily.”

The interview with the head of the public order office in the Kölnische Rundschau is entitled “Disrespect in Cologne is on the rise”.

The paper does not discuss whether increasing social inequality and inadequate social policies might have something to do with it.

Instead, the readers learn that the increase in the number of field staff of the public order office from 200 to 300, which has been planned for years, has not yet been achieved.

It is not asked why it is necessary

to increase the number of field staff from 200 to 300.

“In North Rhine-Westphalia, Kommunale Ordnungsdienste, also known as Stadtwacht, have been established since the end of the 1990s, mainly in the larger cities of the state, which can be seen as a reaction of the cities and municipalities to supposedly increasing security problems in the urban environment (open drug scene, tendencies towards neglect, street crime, lack of urban cleanliness) and the simultaneously dwindling presence of the state police.”

During these years, private security services have also grown. The public order office regularly cooperates with them.

The cited wikipedia article speaks of “supposedly increasing security problems in urban environments”, not of increasing poverty, increasing pressure to perform, increasing declassification. And certainly not about their causes, the concentration process of capital.

The critical criminologist Fritz Sack stated in an interview: “It is most astonishing in what way security policy in particular is no longer a controversial topic.” And he explains: “But there is still the idea that security policy has to be balanced against social policy or economic policy, so to speak, and that these are tubes that communicate within limits: The more you raise security policy, the more you lower the other. And here, of course, Gerhard Schröder again plays a prominent role… …Schröder has lowered social policy. He has cut social policy in a way that was obviously – and as we hear more and more from economists – not necessary to strengthen and push economic power.”

With rising rents, rising energy costs, rising food costs, a look at the US shows where further welfare cuts are leading.

Thousands of homeless and drug addicts on the streets of major cities and a militarised police force that sees itself in a “war on crime”.

Sociology professor Alex Vitale is the mastermind behind an idea that emerged in the USA to counter this development: that of abolishing the police:

“It just takes time and space to build the political will. And we also need to build the alternative structures first. We need to build community centres, create violence prevention programmes and infrastructures around mental health, support housing initiatives. And while we’re building those things, we can dismantle the police.”

29 August 2022

Klaus Jünschke

*** Translated with (free version) ***

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