Are there police officers on the German autobahn
Gendarmerie on fast wheels
As early as the late 1930s, there was a special street police in Germany, which initially included around 100 officers. This force, which called itself the "motorized gendarmerie", had become necessary because the traffic situation on the streets had worsened dramatically.
Not only was the density of traffic growing rapidly, the driving speeds of road users were also higher than before. In addition, the newly built motorways from 1932 brought new dangers and traffic offenses with them, which the police had to be prepared for.
In order to be able to pursue fast traffic offenders or motorized criminals, the forerunners of today's motorway police were equipped with small, agile, gray sports cars and motorcycles with sidecars. In service jargon, these emergency vehicles were also called "railway protection company cars".
The road users who had become suspicious were stopped with a raised arm, with a red flag or with the sign "Halt Polizei". The officers wore armbands for special identification, identifying them as "motorized gendarmerie".
With the start of armament and mobilization for the Second World War in 1939, the strength of the motorized gendarmerie was greatly reduced. Many officials were drafted into the armed forces.
"White Mice" on the Autobahn
After the Second World War, the Western Allies in particular pushed ahead with the reconstruction of the motorway network in the areas they occupied. Therefore, a separate motorway police was again necessary.
In the course of a reorganization of the West German police authorities from 1953, the so-called traffic commands were created, which were divided into traffic monitoring and traffic accident services and which were specialized for special use on the motorways. They were subordinated to the individual district governments of the federal states.
The equipment of the motorway police was continuously adapted to the tasks and requirements. From the beginning of the 1960s, particularly fast emergency vehicles were part of the fleet: Porsche 356 and Porsche Targa Flitzer made it possible for officers to "overtake traffic monitoring".
Traffic offenses could be discovered during the patrol and punished immediately. No road user was faster than the motorway police. Because of the special white paintwork of the vehicles and the white uniform parts, the term "white mice" became a synonym for the motorway police.
The main task of the motorway police, then as now, is the recording of accidents and the protection of the accident sites. Dangerous work in moving traffic.
In addition, there is the psychological burden if there have been injuries or deaths. In particularly bad cases, the officers are provided with psychological support to cope with such operations.
Accident prevention has become an important goal of the highway police. Traffic surveillance measures are intended to reduce the risk of accidents in key areas. This is done by means of radar controls to prevent speeding or distance controls to prevent driving too closely.
Aggressive pushers and speeders can be caught by standing and mobile controls. The motorway police use civilian vehicles equipped with video technology for this purpose. These videos serve to preserve evidence, but are also used as instructive illustrative material for the alleged traffic offenders.
Truck controls are also part of everyday police work on the autobahn. First of all, it is about checking the load. Exceeding the permissible total weight has a negative effect on the braking behavior of the truck.
The technical condition of trucks is also checked. Again and again, trucks are being pulled out of traffic whose brakes are barely working.
Another important aspect is checking the driving times that a truck driver sits behind the wheel. Maximum times and breaks are prescribed, which must be observed.
Full throttle against criminals
The motorway police are also used to fight crime. The officers are particularly active in the field of drug searches. Drug dealers and couriers use the anonymity and route network of the motorway for their transports.
In addition, there are internationally active car pushers, robberies on vehicle occupants in parking lots and robberies on gas stations and rest stops.
Spectacular chases on the autobahn keep making headlines. Here, however, safety is the top priority: If a chase endangers other road users, the action is interrupted or continued with other means such as police helicopters. It becomes particularly dangerous for the officers when it comes to stopping so-called "wrong-way drivers".
The motorway police officers are specially trained for their difficult missions. You have to pass a specialist examination and complete special driver training for high speeds.
The equipment and vehicle fleet are also tailored to the special tasks of the motorway police.
Today the Porsche has had its day as an emergency vehicle. Its capacity was no longer sufficient for the many warning and flashing lights that are now standard equipment and that are necessary to mark accident or danger spots.
However, fast vehicles with powerful engines and special vehicles such as minibuses equipped with large warning signs are still important for special use on the autobahn.
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