And once again, speaking of random violence, this charming scene from Berlin. Police are actively searching for the group of men:
Actually, police have been searching for them since October 27th, when this incident took place. Despite its clarity and relevance, the police chose not to release the video, saying that their policy is to first interview witnesses and exhaust other investigative avenues, and only release the video "when that isn't successful" (g). The policy is intended to "make it as certain as possible, that nobody is possibly prematurely and unfairly sought as a suspect because of photos or videos that have been made public". A police spokeswoman commented (g) that "actually, releasing photos to the public is the last step in the investigation, not the first".
In this case, the police's hand was forced by the Bild tabloid, which secured a copy of the video and published it. The decision of the police was promptly criticized on the police Facebook page, where posters pointed out that (1) the likelihood of a misidentification seems slim considering how clear the video is and the fact that it shows the crime; and (2) the police's decision to sit on the evidence while their investigation went nowhere meant that these men were free to roam the city and endanger other random pedestrians. I would add that the majority of other police forces on earth, including ones with good human-rights records, would have released the video immediately.
Bild appears to be taking the lead in challenging aspects of the German legal system which it feels afford too much protection to suspects and not enough to victims. Since they've been doing this for a while and since Bild is officially on the Prohibited Index of news sources among right-thinking Germans, its actions haven't attracted much notice among educated urbanites.
I have a prediction to make: public outrage at the inability of police to solve serious crimes will continue to grow in Germany. Of course, the problem is explained more by understaffing and legal roadblocks than by police incompetence. In Germany, for instance, police need to apply for a court order to publish images of criminal suspects, a process that can take days or even weeks.
Yet the police are part of the problem. Take the excuses put forward by the Berlin police for not releasing the video. Do those statements convey to you the impression of a police force that is doing its utmost to protect citizens?
Currently, 50% of Germans think (g) the criminal justice system is too lenient. This percentage goes up and down over decades, but never below a solid plurality. 68% of Germans feel security has deteriorated (g) in the past few years. As liberals like to point out, crime has been steadily decreasing in German over the past few decades, a consequence of the aging of society and, quite possibly, lead removal in the 1970s. Yet if that decrease stops, or the nature of crimes changes and becomes more threatening to ordinary people (which I suspect is the case), we might see these abstract poll numbers turn into an active political force. That force will have nowhere to go, of course, since police procedures and criminal laws cannot be meaningfully influenced by ordinary citizens.
What happens to strong political forces which are denied any chance of effecting meaningful policy reforms? We're about to see.