Bad Godesberg The SPD wants more staff for the public order office and emergency call points at central bus stops. Other parties are also calling for improvements to increase the feeling of safety among Bad Godesberg residents. The police have noticed a decrease in the number of crimes.
The issue of safety in the centre of Bad Godesberg is constantly on the political agenda. The SPD is now calling for a joint contact point for the police and public order office in the town centre. “We want the police and the public order office to be more present in the townscape,” says Gabriel Kunze, second deputy district mayor.
Police to deploy more foot patrols
The SPD politician mentions two further points: More staff for the municipal public order service in the field and emergency call points at central bus stops. Such call points are already available in underground stations. Corresponding motions for the council and district representatives are currently in preparation. Kunze also calls for the police to use more foot patrols instead of vehicles. “Officers should be approachable”, he says.
Bonn police assess the level of security on a daily basis
Kunze thinks the current crime statistics are “quite good” but could be even better. He refers, for example, to the increased number of brutality crimes. Kunze repeatedly hears from local residents that they do not feel safe in the town centre - especially in the evening. Or in the parks. “Even if this is perhaps more of a subjective perception," says Kunze. It is important that the public order office acts when citizens call, he says, but this is not always the case. This is an important building block for a better sense of security, Kunze explains. He is also pleading for appropriate prevention programmes in the social sector, especially for young people.
More staff needed for an additional contact point
But what is the real state of security in Bad Godesberg? “In 2020, the number of crimes in the inner-city area of Godesberg decreased compared to the previous year. According to previous surveys, the trend will continue in the first quarter of 2021,” said police spokesman Simon Rott upon request. He explained that the police monitor the level of security on a daily basis, and a specially established evaluation and analysis unit examines the development of local crime on a phenomenon and area-related basis.
Referring to the idea of a joint contact point for the police and public order office, Rott said that this “would require additional staff and as a whole would not improve the perception of police operations as fast and flexible.” He also mentions the current police station on Zeppelinstraße and the future, modern site on Friesdorfer Straße (see below for more information). “These sites ensure that immediate deployments can be made in the centre of Bad Godesberg, as well as to other parts of the city and municipalities,” says Rott.
Police continue to use foot patrols during the pandemic
He also explains that officers do use foot patrols - “often together with the field staff from the public order office”. “Even during the pandemic, these patrols continue to take place, albeit in a reduced form,” says Rott.
It was not possible to find out by Friday evening what the city authorities think of the idea of a joint contact point for the police and public order office, and an enquiry remained unanswered.
Emergency call points not easy to install
The SPD’s idea of emergency call points is not so easy to implement, according to the Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB). “The emergency call points can only be used effectively if they are connected to a camera. A data connection must be available for this, in addition to a power connection,” explains Lea Hoffmann from SWB. When someone presses the emergency call button in the underground stations, a camera image is automatically switched on, so that the employee can assess if it really is an emergency, she says. “Or whether the button may have been activated as a joke, by mistake or by an unsound person - this unfortunately applies to about 90 per cent of cases," she explains.
Greens also call for more presence
In addition, the installation of the emergency call points at bus stops is difficult in legal terms because the bus stops are not owned by SWB, but are public spaces. “As a company, we are not allowed to monitor public areas,” says Hoffmann.
The SPD's proposals have found a sympathetic ear among the Greens. “Personally, I feel very safe in Bad Godesberg centre. However, I have a lot of understanding for the fact that people, especially in the evening, do not feel completely comfortable. The centre is quite deserted in the evenings, not just in corona times,” says Nicole Unterseh from the Green Party. It is “clearly noticeable” that aggression and inconsideration are increasing - not only in Bad Godesberg. “From my point of view, it is important that the public order service and the police work together effectively. This is evidently already the case, but they must show more presence as well. On the one hand, this serves to prevent violence and on the other hand, it strengthens the subjective feeling of safety," says Unterseh.
FDP: “Bad Godesberg is safe”
“After Bad Godesberg was subjected to excessive criticism in 2015 and 2016, it must be stated: Bad Godesberg is safe,” explains Wolfgang Heedt from the FDP. However, the liberal party recognises that “there are discrepancies between a subjective and an objective sense of security”. “The fact that the city centre looks empty, especially at night, because of the corona restrictions, and therefore there are fewer social controls, may give some residents the impression of a lack of safety," says Heedt.
Ralf-Jochen Ehresmann from the Left Party explains that there has been a “gap” between perceived security and the objective level of threat “for years”. He recalls that in the annual police statistics, the number of cases has tended to decrease since 2011. Therefore, problem areas should be identified “prudently and with a sense of proportion”.
CDU calls for more field staff for the public order office
“The recently published crime statistics basically show a positive picture. Crime figures have been falling for years. However, the figures must be viewed in a differentiated manner. Further work must be done to improve not only the statistics but also the feeling of safety,” says Jens Röskens from the CDU. The CDU parliamentary group continues to call for “more field staff for the public order office”.
Bürger Bund Bonn demands reduction in the “high level” of criminal offences
Marcel Schmitt of Bürger Bund Bonn (BBB) sees the situation differently. “We want people to be able to feel safe again and are relying on the increased use of municipal law enforcement officers. Open drug-related crime in central areas, for example at Hubertinumshof, rioting or disturbing drinking fests, as seen in the town park last summer, cannot be tolerated. The level of crime, which is too high in terms of numbers, must finally be reduced,” said Schmitt.
AfD: Police “cannot be everywhere”
“A lack of safety is rarely just a perception, and this is all the more so in Bad Godesberg. Juvenile delinquents set the scene on our streets and parks, in petrol stations and supermarkets all day long. They are trampling on our values. The causes of this are beyond the influence of local politics,” says Wolfgang Truckenbrodt from the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD). He qualifies that the police “cannot be everywhere”. “But they could better examine stationary video surveillance,” he explains further.
(Original text: Maximilian Mühlens, Translation: Caroline Kusch)