It was a very special opening in the heart of Berlin's alternative district of Kreuzberg. Accompanied by left-wing demonstrators on the street and camera teams in the cordoned off area, the police began their work in a new police station directly at Kottbusser Tor. Berlin's Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) said on Wednesday morning that she was "unbelievably proud" that Berlin's most modern police station could now be opened. Then a golden key was symbolically handed over.
A few meters further down the street, an estimated 100 to 200 mostly young people from the left-wing scene were standing and chanting: "Get lost, get lost." Banners read "Murderers must be called murderers" and "The crisis is called capitalism".
The costs are 3.24 million euros
The small "Nebenwache am Kottbusser Tor", as it is officially called, is on the first floor of a high-rise building in the overpass over Adalbertstrasse. According to the Senate, the costs for the conversion of the rooms were around 3.24 million euros, a new elevator was necessary and safety glass for the two window fronts.
From the inside, police officers can see Adalbertstrasse in both directions. The word "police station" is written in six languages at the entrance. Several video cameras film the areas in front of the two entrances and the balustrade in front of the guard's windows. The police assured that the staircase to the neighboring Café Kotti and the street would not be filmed.
Request from the neighborhood: "Help us!"
In the station with its computer workstations, three police officers should be on duty around the clock in shifts and be the contact persons for problems in the area. As before, other police officers should be on the road as patrols and in operations at the Kottbusser Tor. Spranger said: "The police are present here 24 hours a day."
As a place, the Kottbusser Tor is heavily burdened with crime, said Spranger. 3,100 drug offenses since 2018, 1,400 physical injuries, plus coercion, threats, sexual assault, mugging, robbery. The nearest large police station, Police Section 53, is two kilometers away. Now you finally have a contact point in the middle of Kreuzberg. The neighborhood kept saying, "Please help us."
Spranger said of the demonstrators: "These are all people who don't even live here." The new police station is not controversial.
The deputy chief of the state police headquarters, Jörg Dessin, spoke of a contact point for residents, business operators, tourists, clubs and mosques from the neighborhood. "Previously there were only mobile measures here, now we have a 24/7 presence here." The neighbors should "talk to us, we want to talk to them".
The police want to be good neighbors
Criticism came from the police union (GdP) that politics was primarily about a symbol. "Ultimately we don't get more police on the street," said GdP spokesman Benjamin Jendro. The location is not ideal, the police look down on people from above and at the same time the police officers are sitting on a salver.
The immediate neighbor of the "Kotti-Wage" now sees the situation calmly. Ercan Yasaroglu, owner of the popular Café Kotti next to the guard, relies on good cooperation. "Most of the guests will get used to it, and the police are also welcome if they want to drink coffee." However, many people who lived illegally in Germany also visited his café. It is important to him that the police do not check his guests. He referred to the famous Hamburg police station Davidwache directly on the Reeperbahn, which has cult status. He hopes for something like that here too.
The head of the responsible police section 53, Stefan Kranich, assured Yasaroglu that the police also rely on good neighborliness. "If there are problems, call me. We are neighbors and we will find solutions."