With police officers racking up thousands of overtime hours, the military may be called in to take over some assignments. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix
Following another report on how overworked Danish police officers are, parliament appears ready to allow armed soldiers to replace cops at potential terror targets and at the nation’s border, TV2 reported on Monday.
A proposal from the Danish People’s Party (DF) has the support of the Social Democrats and the Liberal Alliance, TV2 reported, assuring it of the majority needed to pass parliament. The Conservatives are also reportedly interested in supporting the proposal.
“One should take a large number of professional soldiers and train them to take over protection assignments so that the police can be cleared to concentrate on the tasks in their home districts,” DF spokesman Peter Kofod Poulsen told TV2.
See also: Danish cops overworked and undermanned
Danish police have been saying for over a year that officers are stretched so thin that they are unable to carry out basic police work. New figures from the Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet) showed that officers nationwide worked some 520,000 hours of overtime in February, double the amount from January 2015.
As a result of border patrol duties and increased anti-terror efforts, crimes including break-ins, violence and drug violations have been deprioritized.
Poulsen said it’s “extremely unfortunate” that armed soldiers might become a part of the everyday picture in Denmark but said the move is a necessary one.
“I’d prefer it was the police, but there are just not enough officers and the most important thing has to be protecting those people who have protection needs,” he said.
Justice Minister Søren Pind has previously expressed a willingness to let the military and/or private security guards take over some protection duties from the police.
“Unfortunately I can’t just pull police officers up out of the ground,” he told TV2 in March.
The Danish parliament has approved an additional two billion kroner to the police that is due to result in 1,000 additional officers beginning in 2019.