Prussian Efficiency

Germany is well known for being an efficient country populated by efficient people. This is evident in many things the country does including policing:

German police officers fired a total of 85 bullets in 2011, 49 of which were warning shots, the German publication Der Spiegel reported. Officers fired 36 times at people, killing six and injuring 15. This is a slight decline from 2010, when seven people were killed and 17 injured. Ninety-six shots were fired in 2010.

Meanwhile, in the United States, The Atlantic reported that in April, 84 shots were fired at one murder suspect in Harlem, and another 90 at an unarmed man in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles police department alone requires as many rounds of ammunition to take down one suspect as the entire country of Germany requires for all of its police in an entire year. Talk about German efficiency (or American inefficiency).

But there’s more to this story than mere numbers. Those numbers indicate a potential cultural difference between German policing and American policing. German police appear to turn to the gun more as a last resort whereas American police turn to the gun whenever the magical phrase “officer safety” can be applied to a situation. One of my issues with modern policing in the United States is how quickly it usually turns to deadly force, armed no-knock raids, and general thuggery. The days when a couple of police officers would knock on your door, present a warrant, and arrest you are rapidly disappearing entirely. Instead those days are being replaced with an armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team kicking in your door at two in the morning, shooting whatever pets they see, and busting you up or shooting you before handcuffs are even brought out.

Other developed countries manage a less militant take on policing and haven’t fallen into chaos. Perhaps this is due to those countries still treating the police as a civilian peacekeeping force and not paramilitary forces. Either way our police could learn a thing or two from Germany’s police.