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Armed soldiers could replace cops on Danish streets

A political majority favours allowing the Danish Armed Forces to take over assignments from overworked police officers.

Armed soldiers could replace cops on Danish streets
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. 
 
 
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. 

POLICE

Denmark says 450 extra police officers will strengthen response to rape, assault and break-ins

Victims of violence and rape in Denmark are Monday today guaranteed police offers will be dispatched to assist if they need acute help.

A file photo of a police motorcycle. A new Danish police guarantee requires officers to be dispatched to attend all reports of assault and rape as well as locations of break-ins.
A file photo of a police motorcycle. A new Danish police guarantee requires officers to be dispatched to attend all reports of assault and rape as well as locations of break-ins. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Police are also now required to attend addresses within 24 hours after reports of a break-in.

The new standards are included in a new “police guarantee” confirmed by the Ministry of Justice in a statement. The guarantee was included in the police funding bill voted through by parliament in December 2020.

Justice minister Nick Hækkerup said that police can meet that guarantee, pointing to the provision in the police bill to add 450 officers to Denmark’s police forces during the course of 2021, 2022 and 2023.

But the trade union for the police, Politiforbundet, says that the total police force must be increased by 5,000 officers if the guarantee is to be lived up to.

“I am completely confident in relation to the extra resources which will be added to the police in coming years being enough to fulfil the guarantee,” Hækkerup said.

“I want to see their calculations,” the minister said in relation to the police union’s number.

“That is equivalent to us needing to increase our police staffing by 50 percent to be able to meet the guarantee we have set,” he added.

The police union has also criticised the guarantee because they see it could result in other tasks being delayed.

“Then there wouldn’t be enough resources for tasks like domestic incidents, traffic accidents and mentally ill member of the public,” the union’s leader Heino Kegel said.

Hækkerup rejected the suggestion resources would be pulled away from other areas.

“It’s not as if this is a completely new task. It’s a task we already undertake,” he said.

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