The right-wing extremism problem in the North Rhine-Westphalian police is apparently much larger than previously known: between January 2017 and September 2020, 100 employees of the state authority were suspected of right-wing extremism or racism. There are also four suspected cases in the Ministry of the Interior. The North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) said on Thursday in the interior committee of the state parliament.
Investigations had been initiated against eight police officers because of possible proximity to the Reich’s citizen ideology; in addition, there are or have been 84 disciplinary proceedings against civil servants for indications of right-wing extremist sentiments. Of the 100 suspected cases, 71 have not yet been concluded. Eight disciplinary and labor law measures were imposed in the 29 proceedings that were ended. In the remaining 21 cases, the allegations were either not confirmed or they were time-barred. The Mülheim case is included in the figures.
“I can only present a snapshot,” said Reul, “we have not reached the end of the flagpole for a long time.” His authority received more and more information – most of them from the police themselves. Which is why Reul praised the authority’s “self-cleaning powers”. “The majority of police officers in North Rhine-Westphalia are on the right side,” said Reul, who also did not want to speak of a “structural problem” in his authority. Nonetheless, the minister appointed a special representative who should quickly create a picture of right-wing extremist tendencies in the NRW police. According to Reul, his most pressing question is: “Why are these attitudes developing among the police?”
Last Wednesday, Reul sent an email to all 56,000 employees of the NRW police – and called on them to report criminally relevant content from their colleagues. Since then, 16 additional suspected cases have been reported to the NRW police within less than a day. An employee of the Cologne police pointed out a closed forum called “net4cops”, in which 770 employees of security authorities were members nationwide. Nine participants were noticed with right-wing extremist statements; five of them come from the NRW police. The forum has now been closed.
31 police officers were temporarily suspended last week
A few hours before Reul spoke in the state parliament, another officer from the Essen police headquarters was also suspended from duty. His case had nothing to do with the right-wing extremist content in the five chat groups, for which 31 police officers were temporarily suspended from duty last week. Most of those involved had worked at least temporarily in the same service group in Mülheim an der Ruhr that belongs to the Essen Police Headquarters.
Reul affirmed on Thursday: “Anyone who does not believe in our constitution has no place in the North Rhine-Westphalian police.”