Cologne police had just 143 officers on duty to cover the whole city on New Year’s Eve after their request for additional men was turned down by the state home secretary.
The lack of officers was a major contributing factor to the chaos outside the main railway station in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, as eye witnesses reported officers having to release arrested migrant suspects because there were no police vans available to take them away in.
An official police report on the event leaked to the press has now confirmed a lack of manpower meant arrests could not be made, and officers were left unable to clear the square as offenders refused to heed instructions.
The manpower problem on new year’s eve caused by North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Home Secretary Ralf Jäger turning down the request by the chief of police, Wolfgang Albers for an extra 100 men.
Just days after the attacks, which have seen now hundreds of reports of assault made to police across Germany, he blasted the police force he had denied extra men to, demanding answers over what had allowed the violence to flourish. He said:
“The police in Cologne, but also the federal police must explain in detail how it could come to these acts… I expect a report later this week. This must not happen again”.
Despite his demand, Mr. Jäger has defended the police from the criticism of others, and has refused to sack Chief Albers despite that being within his power as home secretary. The relationship between the two men, the fact hundreds of men and women were allowed to be assaulted by migrant gangs under the noses of powerless police, and the emerging scandal of the refusal to authorise police reinforcements is leading to calls for both to stand down.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeiner, Angela Merkel ally and local Christian Democratic Union party vice-chair Armin Laschet has said the fact both the chief of police and state home secretary belong to the same left-wing political party had influenced the decision to not dismiss the chief of police.
Mr. Laschet said with the failure to dismiss the chief of police the responsibility for all future failures of policing rested squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Jäger.
Speaking of the broader problems faced by NRW, Mr. Laschet also spoke of the “no-go zones” in the state. Rejecting the suggestion using such terms was alarmist, he said: “There are in this state no-go areas… even today police in the districts of Duisberg and Gelsenkirchen no longer have the situation under control. There are lawless areas.
“The truth is, the Cologne Central Station and the area around Cologne Cathedral on New Year’s Eve was a no-go area, a legal vacuum for women. This is not acceptable”.