Special task force
A special task force ( SEC ) is a special unit of the police in Germany. The police in each state has at least one SEK. Corresponding at the federal level are the GSG 9 of the Federal Police, founded in 1972, and the Central Customs Support Group (ZUZ) of the Customs Administration, established in 1994 . The SEKs emerged from the precision rifle commandos . The SEK Baden-Württemberg is the only SEK to belong to the Atlas Association of European Police Special Forces. While in the past, special task force was also used in official languagewas used, it is only used colloquially today, as the term is burdened by the SS Special Operations Command Eichmann .
SEC officers are trained in counterterrorism , hostage rescue and access . In particularly dangerous situations, they are used both preventively (e.g. for protection during state visits) and operationally (at the request of the regular police) and are roughly comparable to the SWAT teams of the US police.
High-profile SEK operations often take place in the context of hostage-taking or explosive kidnapping cases . However, such assignments only make up a small part of everyday SEK life. Most of the missions are barely mentioned in the media and the daily press. These are, for example, the execution of arrest warrants , the prevention of suicide attempts or the escort of prisoners. There are also raids in the area of organized crime carried out. The area of responsibility also includes personal and witness protection measures.
Organizationally, the SEK can be affiliated with the riot police , the Ministry of the Interior or a large regional police station ( praesidia etc.). In most countries, however, there is an increasing tendency to affiliate the SEKs with the State Criminal Police Offices (LKA), if possible together with the Mobile Task Force (MEK). The internal organization of the SEKs differs from country to country, they include between 40 and 70 officers who are divided into different task forces.
Some countries focus on regional crime areas. For example, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate have set up SEKs in several larger cities, while Bavaria and Hesse have two units, each responsible for the northern and southern halves of the country. In contrast, large states with comparatively low violent crime like Brandenburg have set up a central SEK, often in the state capital .
In all federal states, the mobile task forces (MEK) and the negotiating groups are also part of the special units. A negotiation group consists of specially trained police officers who, in special situations, act as the police's phrasebook for the target person. The MEKs work very closely with the SEK and specialize in observations and operations between changing locations (e.g. bus hijackings), so-called mobile locations.
Recruitment and training
The members of a SEK are specially trained and intensively trained police officers. The SEK only employs police officers who have already worked in the regular police service (usually at least two years) and who had to face a difficult selection process in order to be accepted into the special unit. An age limit between 23 and 34 years is common for applicants. Women and men can join the task force alike, although women are still underrepresented in this area. Due to the organizational affiliation of SEK and MEK in the state of Hamburg, there is a higher proportion of women here.
The requirement profile is based not only on an above-average physical condition, but also on strength of character, high social skills, judgment and resistance to stress.
The entrance test is divided into physical and psychological tests. A stressful interview in which the applicant sits across from a committee consisting of a psychologist , an experienced member of the unit and, in many places, the commander and his deputy, is also widespread . After the test has been passed, special training takes place over several months, in which, above all, physical and psychological resilience, but also penetration into buildings, driving and climbing training, martial arts ( ju-jutsu ) and extensive shooting skills are trained. The SEK candidates are specifically brought to the limits of their physical and psychological performance.
Members of a SEK receive a risk surcharge of around € 150 per month on top of their earnings, although other allowances may be omitted for them.
Depending on the country, the officers have to leave the access forces of a SEK when they reach an age limit of around 45 years.
Controversies among individual units
The Cologne SEK unit is said to have repeatedly suffered from great lack of discipline. According to press reports, helicopters were used for private excursions and recruits were tortured. An official told the press that he had been handcuffed for days and forcibly given beer. The professor of police science Rafael Behr confirmed that police special units carry out partly archaic and partly brutal admission rituals. The units also had a life of their own. Those who do not endorse the practice and address themselves to the public risk, according to Behr, of being excluded from the special unit.
In the summer of 2015, the then police chief Wolfgang Albers, in coordination with NRW interior minister Ralf Jäger, ordered the "Special Operations Command 3" of the Cologne special units to be completely disbanded after allegations of bullying after it became publicly known that its members had tortured young colleagues. However, the allegations had no criminal relevance, the public prosecutor's office closed the investigation against the SEK officials. The allegations also proved unfounded in terms of disciplinary law. The damage to Albers was enormous because he had discredited himself as superior to large parts of the Cologne officials.
On June 10, 2021, Hesse's Interior Minister Peter Beuth announced that the SEK Frankfurt would be completely dissolved and restructured by a staff of experts. 17 accused had incited people and sent Nazi symbols, Hitler pictures, swastikas and insults against asylum seekers in chat groups. Three service group leaders were accused of thwarting punishment in office because they watched the goings-on and did not intervene. The chats were discovered by chance, as an investigation against a SEK official on suspicion of child pornography on confiscated cell phones, hard drives and a laptop found not only child and youth pornographic material, but also the chat groups mentioned.
SEKs have extended equipment compared to the patrol police, which for example consists of a 15 kg bullet-resistant vest with stab protection, a balaclava and a ballistic helmet. Pocket equipment includes a respirator , radio , watch and utility knife. Pistols from the manufacturers Glock , Sig-Sauer and Walther (for example Walther P99 ) are widespread . In addition, submachine guns such as the HK MP5 and HK MP7 are often used. Assault rifles and sniper rifles, such as the Steyr AUG at SEK Südbayern, are also available. Repeating shotguns are used with special ammunition to open doors, but also with shotgun barrels against an armed criminal with a protective vest. The units also have protective shields.
In terms of frequency of use, there are definitely differences between the federal states; the SEKs in Berlin, Frankfurt and in the Ruhr area are most heavily involved in operations. The SEKs in Berlin and Frankfurt have achieved peak values of around 500 missions per year for years, the SEKs in North Rhine-Westphalia around 900 missions.
Overall, the individual SEKs have handled several thousand missions since they were set up in the early 1970s. Firearms were only used in a negligibly small proportion of these missions. In no federal state does the number of firearms used against people ( including the final rescue shot ) exceed the limit of ten cases.
History and stakes
Like the Federal Police's GSG 9, SEKs were founded after the terrorist attack during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich . As a result of these events, the Standing Conference of Interior Ministers and Senators in 1974 adopted the “Concept for the establishment and deployment of special units of the federal states and the federal government for the fight against terrorists ”. This decision can be seen as the birth of the special forces in Germany.
In previous years, SEKs were also used in particularly violent demonstrations, but since the clashes at the construction site of the planned Wackersdorf reprocessing plant in the late 1980s, the evidence preservation and arrest units , also known as the Support Command (USK) in Bavaria , have established themselves in this area .
In 1990 the Berlin SEK was involved in the clearing of Mainzer Strasse . A SEK arrested the suspects in the Holzminden police murder in 1991. The school shootings in Erfurt in 2002 , Emsdetten 2006 and the Winnenden school shooting and Wendlingen 2009 also Seks were in use.
On April 23, 2003, the Berlin SEK man Roland K. was shot while searching his house. Another SEK man was shot.
As part of investigations into disputes in the red-light district , a SEK official from Rhineland-Palatinate was shot through a closed door by a member of the Hells Angels during a house search on March 17, 2010 . The officer succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards. Since the SEK only revealed itself as police after the shooting and the perpetrator feared an assassination attempt by the rival Bandidos , his conviction for manslaughter was overturned by the Federal Court of Justice on the basis of erroneous self-defense (so-called putative emergency ).
In spring 2012, SEKs were particularly involved in numerous missions against motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels and Bandidos .
On December 1, 2015, a man (48) barricaded himself in his apartment in Erfurt , which was supposed to be evacuated. He threatened suicide . After the SEK broke into his apartment, he attacked the emergency services with a hand ax and seriously injured an officer. The SEK then opened fire. The man was seriously injured and later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
On October 19, 2016, during a police operation in Georgensgmünd and an attempt by a special task force of the Bavarian police to confiscate the 31 weapons stored in the house from a " Reichsbürger " after the weapon possession card was withdrawn , three police officers were injured. one of them fatal.
- Reinhard Scholzen : SEK, special task force of the German police. 5th edition. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-613-02016-0 .
- Christian Parth: Jagd durch die Wipfel Zeit Online from September 13, 2018, accessed on December 19, 2020.
- DPA: Police advance in Dannenröder Forst in front of the Süddeutsche Zeitung from November 10, 2020, accessed on December 19, 2020.
- Small request from the MP Andre Schollbach, DIE LINKE parliamentary group - Topic: Special Operations Command (SEK) of the State Criminal Police Office of Saxony , January 2016, accessed in January 2017. (PDF; 78 kB)
- Alexander Fröhlich: Police reform in Brandenburg: Conditionally ready for action Potsdamer Latest News from July 7, 2015, accessed on January 9, 2017.
- "Always anger": After allegations of torture: Cologne SEK commando is known for poor discipline. A young SEK official accuses his unit of torturing him on a private outing. It is not the first incident of its kind. Apparently the commando was known for being joking and lacking morale. In: FOCUS Online. June 26, 2015, accessed June 26, 2015 .
- After the torture scandal in Cologne: Police researcher: That is why humiliating admission rituals are vital at the SEK. They tied up their victim for days and mistreated them: SEK police officers in Cologne are said to have forced a colleague to a cruel admission ritual. Not an isolated case, says police researcher Rafael Behr. He is convinced that such humiliating rituals will continue to exist at the SEK. Because even if they are cruel, such endurance tests have their purpose. In: FOCUS Online. June 25, 2015, accessed June 26, 2015 .
- Analysis of the SEK scandal in Cologne: The parallel world of the Einsatzkommandos
- Reiner Burger: After the attacks, Cologne's police chief has to resign . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . January 8, 2016, ISSN 0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed January 10, 2016]).
- Hesse's interior minister dissolves SEK Frankfurt , in: https://www.spiegel.de/ Access: June 10, 20212.
- Hesse's interior minister dissolves SEK Frankfurt
- Because of right-wing chat groups: Beuth dissolves SEK Frankfurt after police scandal , Hessenschau from June 10, 2021; Accessed June 10, 2021
- Reinhard Scholzen : SEK, Special Operations Command of the German Police . 5th edition. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-613-02016-0 , p. 59 .
- Was the SEK man shot dead
- Hells Angel shoots SEK officials , Spiegel Online , March 17, 2010.
- BGH overturns guilty verdict against Hells Angel , Spiegel Online from November 3, 2011.
- BGH 2 Str 375/11 , judgment of November 2, 2011 on HRRS .
- Man shot dead during SEK operation in Erfurt. In: m.thueringer-allgemeine.de. Retrieved December 2, 2015 .
- Use in Georgensgmünd. Police officer dies after being shot , in: Deutschlandfunk from October 20, 2016.
- Police officer shot dead in Gelsenkirchen despite protective vest , in: www.tz.de Access: October 11, 2020.