An International View of Civil Disturbance Unit Standards and Training
This video provides and international perspective on civil disturbance units.
Dr. Ben Burger, Chief, Unterstützungskommando, Dachau, Germany, discusses how his unit’s response to civil disturbances compares to his American counterparts and the approaches that contribute to his unit’s success.
BEN BURGER: My name is Ben Burger and I am the chief of the Unterstützungskommando, Dachau. That is a special civil disturbance unit. We are specialized on making evidence-based arrests out of crowds and to get convictions. I’m doing this quite since, 20 years, so the most of my time I’m on the force since 1987 and most of the time I spent at this special unit.
Our approach to protests doesn’t differ from the American approach very much. What I learned is that we in Germany invest very much time in professionalization. That means in developing standards regarding tactics, regarding equipment, and time for training. For example, my unit we have 30 percent of our duty time is reserved for training. In my opinion, that is very important because handling protests is very sensitive. As police we present the state and often protests are against something that the state actually does at the moment. And so in my opinion, it’s very, very important to give a lot of effort in becoming professional to handle protests.
There are two things that contribute to our success when dealing with public protests. The first thing is we invest a lot of time in training, in developing standards. And the second thing is that we are professional units. That means in my unit, we are special CDU. You have to pass an entry test and then you have six months of training. It is just purely training for protest handling for six months. And then you go to my unit and then you have to stay in my unit for at least five years. You have to sign that you stay for at least five years. And that’s when we get a lot of experience. And in my experience it’s very important to have that long time on the unit because when you have this experience you get a feeling how a crowd reacts, how people react, and that is very important. So after five years, the officers are good for crowd control. That is what I learned in 20 years’ experience of crowd control.
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