• Politics
  • Daniela Polti, chief of Alexanderplatz Wache


Daniela Polti, chief of Alexanderplatz Wache

A Q&A with the head of the cop shop on Alex.

Image for Daniela Polti, chief of Alexanderplatz Wache

Photo by Hanson Walker

Has Alex gotten safer since the booth was set up?

We don’t have the stats for 2018 yet. But the feeling is that there are fewer groups of people around who might get into conflict with the law.

Why is crime so high on Alex anyway?

Considering that around 360,000 people pass through every day, the crime rate is not terribly high. But obviously quite a lot of crimes are committed in such a concentrated area.

Especially violent crime; there were 668 violent assaults and one murder in 2017!

Those went up because last summer we had a particular issue with groups of young men from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan clashing with each other, often over ethnic, racial and religious differences.

The Berlin police have been accused of racial profiling.

We don’t have an issue with races, but with certain groups identified from our experience as sources of trouble. If you fit into one of these groups, then you’re more likely to be controlled. For example, before the immigration wave in 2015, we had trouble with “emotional punks” who were often drunk and took drugs in public, and occasionally committed assault. Today they’re not so much of a problem. We always start with our knowledge of who is a source of crime, and that’s when we control them more. If the group is no longer causing trouble, then we stop checking them. It has nothing to do with racial profiling but rather how a particular group tends to behave. If we did racial profiling, we’d be stopping lots of black people, right? But we aren’t, because they are not the ones causing trouble.

But you do check more young Middle Eastern people?

These men are mostly very young, ranging from 18 to mid-twenties. The potential for groups of young men to drink and cause trouble is higher anyway, no matter where they come from.

How are you navigating the role of police chief here as a woman?

How many women work with you? [Laughs warmly] There are five women, including myself, working in the station now. It varies since most officers stay here for half a year and then transfer elsewhere. I feel it’s no problem commanding a team of men. I have a great team of young, serious and very dedicated guys. I do not feel my male co-workers have a problem with me being a woman.