In the Interior Committee of the House of Representatives, Barbara Slowik talks about her plans as Berlin’s new police chief.
Police Commissioner Barbara Slowik at her inauguration on April 10 Photo: dpa
It was the first appearance of Berlin’s new police chief Barbara Slowik in the Interior Committee of the House of Representatives. If there was one sentence in her short introductory speech that made people sit up and take notice, it was this: criticism in the police department must be able to be voiced "independent of the hierarchy". The fact that discussions are held "is important to me," Slowik emphasized. "Otherwise, we won’t be able to move forward."
"We" refers to Berlin’s 22,000-strong police force. Since April 10, it has been led by a woman for the first time. Previously, there had once been an acting police chief for a year and a half – Margarete Koppers. Slowik replaced the previous police chief, Klaus Kandt. She appeared at her first committee meeting on Monday in a cornflower-blue suit and white blouse. She wore her long blond hair loose. Optically thus mighty color came into the picture, when it beside the gentlemen in grey suits robed Secretary of the Interior and senator of the interior seat took. It remains to be seen whether she will also succeed in terms of content.
Regarding the security apparatus of the Federal Republic of Germany, the fully qualified lawyer Slowik is an experienced expert, said Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) on Monday in praise of his new colleague. The 52-year-old outlined her curriculum vitae in short sentences as follows: born in Zehlendorf, grew up on Lake Constance, studied in Freiburg, and has been back in Berlin since 1974. Initially, she worked for the Senate Department of the Interior, and since 2002 for the Federal Ministry of the Interior – in various areas: Salaries, personnel, Islamist terrorism, digitization.
Personnel development and recruitment are priorities she will set as police chief, Slowik announced. I have already "reassigned" responsibility for human resources. Until now, the responsibility lay with former police vice president Margarete Koppers, now attorney general. Slowik’s other plans: To better integrate the Berlin police with the other federal states, and to bring digitization within the agency up to a uniform standard. Not because digitization is "nice to have," but because it is "essential for survival.
Most of this was already known. Slowik’s closing remarks were revealing. With the new requirements, there would also be further burdens on the police. It was important to her to find solutions to problems "in close cooperation with the staff representatives and trade unions. Such tones had been missing from the previous police leadership.