BERLIN (AP) — After a lengthy political standoff, Germany’s top security official has commissioned a study into police work that will include examining the extent of racism in the force.
The study is to be conducted over three years, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday, meaning it will fall to Germany’s next government to consider what to do with the results. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who plans to retire from politics after next year’s election, won’t be part of that government.
In July, calls to study the use of racial profiling by police — a practice that human rights activists say is widespread in Germany — led to divisions in the governing coalition of conservatives and center-left Social Democrats.
The conservative-run Interior Ministry, which oversees federal police, initially agreed to the idea but then backtracked.
Seehofer insisted that there was “no structural problem,” but eventually agreed to a broader study that is billed as exploring the everyday working life of police officers and their motivation for going into the police force, as well as violence against police.
The study will be conducted by the German Police University, the Interior Ministry said. It said that “zero tolerance” measures against anti-Semitism, right-wing extremism and racism will “be further developed if needed.”
The university plans to compile the study using questionnaires, interviews and other observations.
Debates about racial profiling and the broader issue of systemic racism in Germany were amplified this year by the worldwide protests that followed the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, in the United States. A white police officer pressed his knee against the 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.