Interior Minister Herbert Reul
Further measures against right-wing extremism in the police force
Interior Minister Herbert Reul is stepping up the fight against right-wing extremism in the North Rhine-Westphalia police force.
Ministry of the Interior of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

The reason for this are the accusations against 30 police officers of having sent and received right-wing extremist propaganda in at least five private WhatsApp chat groups.

Reul announced "drastic consequences". "Now is the time: Analyze, investigate, act," said the interior minister, "our zero-tolerance strategy also applies internally. The enemies of the constitution in our ranks may well perceive this as a threat and the decent ones in our ranks as encouragement."

Reul's new package of measures includes a special inspection for the Essen police headquarters, which is particularly affected. He will also appoint a "special representative for right-wing extremist tendencies in the North Rhine-Westphalian police". This officer will perform his function full-time, maintain his own office and report directly to the Minister.

The first task of the special officer and his team will be to draw up a "situation report on right-wing extremism in the NRW police". In a second step, he will develop an action plan for the early detection and effective countering of right-wing extremist tendencies as well as for the sustainable prevention of extremism in the NRW police force.

Existing measures, for example in training and further education, will be evaluated and further developed, taking into account the latest scientific findings. Reul will also convene the approximately 2,000 NRW police managers - including all service group heads, watch commanders and heads of police stations - for regional conferences, which he himself and the police management from the ministry will attend.

In 2018, Reul was the first federal state in NRW to arrange for police officer candidates to undergo a regular check with the Office for the Protection of the Constitution before they are hired. Even the applicants have to answer questions about their values. The training was redesigned and expanded to include seminars on professional ethics and intercultural competence. In March, the minister instructed all police authorities to appoint extremism officers who are trustworthy contacts beyond the official channels.

More than 200 investigators were deployed during the searches by the "Parabel" special commission on the morning of September 16. 35 police stations and private residences in Duisburg, Essen, Moers, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Oberhausen were searched. The 30 police officers, most of whom had at one time or another served in the same team at the police station in Mülheim an der Ruhr, which belongs to Essen police headquarters, were immediately suspended. Disciplinary proceedings were opened against all of them, 14 of them with the aim of removing them from duty.

Eleven of the 30 officers are suspected of criminal offences: disseminating symbols of unconstitutional organizations and incitement to hatred. The presumption of innocence applies to all of them. "According to the current state of the investigation, we are dealing with a group of police officers who sent the most repugnant, inhuman, racist and violence-glorifying images around digitally," said Reul.

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