Gosbert Dölger: Darmstadt – the safest city in Hessen

Darmstadt, the Hessian City of Science, is a special kind of city. Art Nouveau, numer­­ous public authorities, more than 30 scientific institutions and research-based companies as well as the Darm­stadt University of Technology, Darmstadt Uni­­ver­­sity of Applied Sciences and the Prot­­estant University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt have shaped and influenced the city over the decades and significantly contributed to the image of this municipality.

In order to ensure that Darmstadt continues to retain its attractiveness and remains livable for all the fellow citizens, visitors and guests, safety is an important factor. The local police employees are fully aware of their role and hence have made a significant contribution in this matter. This can be seen in the fact that in recent years, Darmstadt itself has become the safest city in Hessen – in comparison to other cities with a population of more than 100,000 inhab­­itants. The basis for this evaluation is the so-called frequency number (number of reported crimes per 100,000 inhabitants). In 2010, it was at 8,571 – again well below 10,000 – and is getting a special significance considering a detec­­tion rate of 60.3 per cent for all crimes (in 2010: 12,285 criminal offences).

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Above all, the police officials of all organi­­sational units in both office and field work are the basis for a successful police work. The well-established organisational structure is another foundation, which is basically divided into three departments: operation, administration and central services.

The operation department deals with fundamental issues of the departments and the organisation. This is where ope­­rations are prepared, strategies and operational concepts are developed and the deployment of personnel and equip­­ment in the context of daily work tasks and at special events are planned. The staff section is structured in the staff division E1 for the planning of daily work tasks and operations at special events such as demonstrations, crime fighting, traffic safety or the protection for high-ranking visitors; E2 for the planning and organisation of the internal departments, strategy and general affairs; E3 for the command and control centre service with the control centre from where all emergency calls are received and radio cars are controlled. The control centre compiles a daily crime report, which, among other things, supports the planning of operating measures for crime control. The staff division E4 is responsible for the coordination and general affairs of preventive measures and strat­­egies. The regional branch of the Hessian “network against violence” is also located at the staff unit E4.

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In addition, the operation department consists of six directorates:

Crime directorate. By being oriented towards the processing responsibility, the crime directorate is divided into two inspectorates. These are the regional crime inspectorate and the central crime inspectorate, which are located in the building of the police headquarters of Southern Hessen in Darmstadt.

The regional crime inspectorate is locally responsible for the Darmstadt area and the Darmstadt-Dieburg district. The clas­­sical fields of work within the criminal investigation department are again organ­­ised in police stations.

The central crime inspectorate is respon­­sible for the entire area of the police headquarters of Southern Hessen and consists of central police stations. Their tasks include the support of the police stations, districts and daily places of action, supervisory control of identifica­tion measures of the police departments, trace evidence and crime scene investigations at the crime place/place of inci­­dent and in the laboratory as well as analysis of evidence materials secured.

Police department Darmstadt-Dieburg. The police department Darmstadt-Dieburg is the largest police department in the area of the police headquarters of South­­ern Hessen and is responsible for the city of Darmstadt and the Darmstadt-Dieburg district.

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Police department Groß-Gerau. The police department Groß-Gerau is respon­­sible for the district of the same name and is based in Rüsselsheim. It includes the police stations in Bischofsheim, Gerns­­heim, Groß-Gerau, Kelsterbach, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Rüsselsheim and the regional crime inspectorate in Groß-Gerau.

Police department Bergstraße. The police department Bergstraße at the foot of the Starkenburg castle in Heppenheim is responsible for security and order in the 719-square-kilometre region of the Berg­­straße district with its approximately 265,000 inhabitants. It includes the police stations in Bensheim, Heppen­­heim, Lam­­pertheim-Viernheim, the police station Wald-Michelbach with the police post Hirsch­horn and the regional crime inspectorate.

Police department Odenwald. The police department Odenwald is responsible for the administrative district of the same name. It is based in Erbach. It includes the police stations in Erbach and Höchst and the regional crime inspectorate.

Directorate of traffic safety and special services. The directorate of traffic safety and special services is responsible for the entire service area of the police headquarters of Southern Hessen. This in­­cludes the motorway police of Southern Hessen, the traffic inspectorate (including youth traffic schools and traffic control), the specialised subject area of police dogs and the police guards. The traffic inspec­­torate is responsible for the entire ser­vice area of the police headquarters of Southern Hessen. The traffic services and the youth traffic schools are integrated under central management into the traffic inspectorate. The motorway police of Southern Hessen is responsible for the support of 145 kilometres of federal motorways in the southern Rhine-Main area. The investigation team relieves the operative units of the department of traffic safety/special services. The police dogs of the police headquarters of South­­ern Hessen are decentralised located at the police stations and police districts of the city of Darmstadt and the districts Bergstraße, Darmstadt-Dieburg, Groß-Gerau and Odenwald. The police guards are responsible for object protection, prisoner transport, detentions and speed checks. They perform inspec­­tions at hot spots and serve as a constant point of contact for all citizens. They provide valuable support at traffic-related operations, public events, at the youth traffic school and at crime scene investigation.

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Department of administration: among the tasks of the department of administration are data security, legal matters, organisation, internal operations, house and property management, budgeting, cash management and accounting of the authority, postal centre, personnel affairs for civil servants as well as for employees and wage-earners, education and training of staff.

The department of central services is the internal service centre of the police head­­quarters of Southern Hessen for the areas of information services, information and communication technology and acquisition/vehicle maintenance. The maintenance of all electronically stored data and the corresponding files is the responsibility of the main subject field information services. Besides process administration and collection of criminal records, constant updating of personal data and data about lost or stolen property as well as the input, change and deletion of case file, personal or property data are among the priority tasks. This is also where the data release of unsettled and settled criminal cases for the police crime statistics occurs. The main subject field of information and communication technology is responsible for the administration and functionality of the control centre, all guard areas at the police authorities as well as for the maintenance and repair ser­vices of the corresponding telecommunication equipment and connections also with regard to the radio traffic of the police patrol vehicles and duty cars. The regional user help desk tasks consist of PC service, telex control, operational control system and digital image information system in order to ensure the proper operation of the networked work­stations. The main subject field acquisition and vehicle maintenance is responsible for the purchase, administration, storage and issue of vehicles, weapons, equipment as well as office supplies and consumables, including the maintenance of the motor pool. Highly qualified shooting and operational trainers are responsible for the education and training of the law enforcement staff.

The success of the police, which is impressively shown by the statistics, is the result of a well-functioning authority. Prudent and well-educated individuals stand behind
these different functional units. As the Chief of Police I dare to say that our achieve­­­­ments, reflected in the continuity of crime fighting in recent years, are a strong endorsement for our successful work and that our employees of the police headquarters of Southern Hessen are highly motivated and provide their service with a lot of dedication by balanced, preventive and repressive measures on behalf of the police and criminal investigation department for the benefit of the population.

But also the population contributed a significant part to the successful police work. In many cases, investigators are only able to successfully investigate crimes by receiving helpful hints and hence, they are able to make the city safer. It will be a constant challenge for the police also in future to do everything in order to continue this successful development and keep the public safety and order at this high level in the City of Science Darmstadt for the population’s benefit.

Dölger2009-KopieThe author (born in 1950) completed his educational training for the upper grade of the civil service at the Bavarian Criminal Investigation Department. In particular, he has performed outstanding service as under­­cover agent in the fight against drugs, counterfeit money and weapons. Gosbert Dölger was police chief of the police department Aschaffenburg from 1992 until 2003 and since 2004, he has been chief of police of the police headquarters of Southern Hessen.