[Up until 2005, Austria’s rural police were] called the Gendarmerie, a French term going back to Austrian imperial times. In German-speaking Switzerland there are two main kinds of police, the cantonal (state) police and the local police. The police (Polizei) in Germany are divided into several types. Die Kripo (Kriminalpolizei) deals only with more serious criminal cases. Traffic offenses and minor disturbances of the peace are handled by the Schupo (Schutzpolizei), more like the officer on the beat in the U.S. In general, police officers are the concern of the 16 states (Länder). Each of Germany’s states is responsible for maintaining a police force. Even the city police fall under the control of each Land. On the highways and autobahns the Autobahnpolizei—similar to the state highway patrol in the U.S., if not quite as visible—has responsibility for accidents and catching speeders and other traffic violators.
The federal police agency, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), is modeled after the American FBI and has its headquarters in Wiesbaden. The BKA handles counterfeiting, bank robbery, kidnapping, and other serious federal crimes. The Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS) [was] the German border patrol, responsible for keeping Germany’s borders under control, a job that has become increasingly difficult on the eastern boundaries, following reunification and the opening up of borders in the European Union. [In 2005 the BGS was reorganized as the Bundespolizei (Federal Police). The national railway, Deutsche Bahn AG (formerly the Bundesbahn) which formerly had its own police, the Bahnpolizei, is now also under the jurisdiction of the Bundespolizei.] …
… German police have been embarrassed by several incidents in recent years, the most notorious being the Dagobert case. Dagobert is the German name for Disney’s Scrooge McDuck character. Beginning in 1988 an extortionist calling himself “Dagobert” in his extortion notes had threatened large German department stores in several cities with bombs if they didn’t pay him $300,000. A bomb did $4.5 million worth of damage to the sports section of KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), Germany’s largest department store, located in Berlin. The money was paid, but it was to be the last. After six more years of frustrating the police and five unsuccessful extortion attempts against other department stores, “Uncle Scrooge” finally made the mistake the police had been hoping for. Dagobert, who actually turned out to be 44-year-old Arno Funke, made another attempt to get the first extortion money since his one Berlin success. He was apprehended as he left a telephone booth in the Treptow section of Berlin. Funke had just completed a phone call demanding 1.4 million marks from the Karstadt department store headquarters in Hamburg. It must have caused the police even more frustration when in March 1995 a Berlin court sentenced Funke to less than eight years in prison, taking into consideration his supposedly diminished capacity brought on by inhaling fumes in his job as a varnisher. [He actually served only six years in prison. See below.]
|Update: Funke (b. 1950) was caught on April 22, 1994 and sentenced to 7 years and 9 months in prison. The prosecution appealed the sentence and it was changed to a full nine years. It was estimated that the police had spent nearly $20 million on his pursuit. He was released on parole after serving only six years on August 15, 2000. The expected media frenzy caused authorities to actually release him a day early to avoid the crowds. Funke wrote a book in prison about his exploits (Mein Leben als Dagobert. Die Bekenntnisse des Kaufhauserpressers, 1998) and has since worked as a cartoonist, author, and stage performer.
- adapted from Wikipedia (English | German/Deutsch)
Book excerpt ©1999 McGraw-Hill/Passport Books
Web site Copyright © 1997-2011 Hyde Flippo
- The Autobahnpolizei, the German “highway patrol”
- Driving in Germany (with links)
- Dagobert and German 'justice'
On the Web
- The Legal Guide to Germany - What happens if you get arrested in Germany?
- Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) - Germany's FBI site... “most wanted,” warnings, mail bombs, jobs, etc. In German.
- Bundesgrenzschutz - The BGS - German federal border police - are now included under the Bundespolizei (see below).
- Austrian Landespolizeikommando, formerly known as the Gendarmerie. Official site (in German).
- Bundespolizei (Germany) - in German
- Polizei.de - Links to all German Länder (states) police sites
- IPA - International Police Association (Germany)
- Polizei - Berlin - Offical site of the Berlin police department