The soldiers are being deployed to relieve an overworked and undermanned police force. Photo: ens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix
According to the Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet) and Copenhagen Police, 160 soldiers will patrol the border and take over guard duties at Jewish institutions including the Great Synagogue in central Copenhagen.
The synagogue has been under constant police protection since a Danish-born terrorist of Palestinian descent shot and killed 37-year-old Dan Uzan, a volunteer security guard, outside the building in February 2015. The gunman, Omar El-Hussein, had earlier in the night opened fire with an automatic rifle outside a cultural centre hosting a free speech event, killing 55-year-old Finn Nørgaard and injuring police officers. El-Hussein was later shot and killed by police.
The soldiers’ role at the German border was described as ancillary and will not entail actively checking the IDs of those entering the country. That role will still be filled by police officers and members of the Danish Home Guard (Hjemmeværnet), which has been active in border checks since April 2016.
The plan to put armed military personnel at the border and potential terror targets has been under discussion for well over a year. It is being implemented as a way to ease the workload of an overworked and undermanned police force.
The 160 soldiers will relieve the police force of the equivalent of 128 full-time police officers. According to news agency Ritzau, police currently use the equivalent of 456 full-time officers on border controls and patrolling potential terror targets.
Danish police have been saying for years now that officers are stretched so thin that they are unable to carry out basic police work.
It was not immediately announced how long military personnel would remain on the streets or at the border.