Translation by Hermes:
Sonntags BLICK met Jean-Marc Widmer, the top representant of Switzerland’s police union. Widmer strongly demands more personnel and he is ready to break taboos, too.
The population and the police officers are frustrated. Petty criminals make the life of the swiss population hard. They are mostly asylum seekers and criminal tourists. They commit burglaries, break in, commit attacks and steal cars.many of them are recidivists
In the Canton Aargau, the number of burglaries and robberies rose up to 30% in comparison with 2011. The number of burglaries commited in cars rose to a level of 150%. In the Canton Baselland, police openly complain about the fact that criminal tourists simply laugh at them. No sooner arrested, they are set free again.
The Cantons Geneva and Waadt are nowadays witnessing an explosive amount of cases involving cross-border criminality. French gangs act with an ever increasing aggressivity.
Taking into account the whole of Switzerland, robbings increased last year by a 16%, which means 580 filed complaints a day. Housebreakings rose a 5%.It seems that Switzerland cannot handle the situation.
SonntagsBlick has for this reason, conducted an interview with Jean-Marc Widmer, the top representant of Switzerland’s police union. He demands tougher punishments, border controls, and much more agents. Additional agents are allegedly to be recruited amongst foreigners who would be nationalized through an accelerated procedure.
Mr. Widmer, do you and your colleagues find it pleasant to work as police agents?
Jean-Marc Widmer: The motivation in the corps is getting lower. The work has changed a lot during the last years. The aggression against police agents, both male and female, is increasing. We are too little time in the streets and too much time behind the desk. We have lots of paperwork to do. Agents are increasingly being sued. The political support was also bigger (by then. Now not).
Criminal tourists are nowadays a huge problem.
Jean-Marc Widmer: Geneva was always a preferred place by gangs coming from Lyon. Ever since the (creation of the) new code of criminal procedure from January 1, 2011, Switzerland became a paradise for those criminals. They do not take much risks, even if spotted. This spreads fast in those circles. Romanians just laugh when they get an order of punishment in (their homes in) Romania.
Many agents feel frustrated. Do you understand this?
Jean-Marc Widmer: Of course I understand this! They catch a burglar, a robber or a dealer, and spend hours in the night writing the rapport, thus making extra hours. And when they come again on duty the next night, they meet the same burglar. He walks around free.
This must be discouraging. Does one think in these cases on putting his integrity at risk when detaining somebody?
Jean-Marc Widmer: No, but many times we are threatened with guns or knives. Do you remember that attack with kalashnikovs against a bank in Geneva? The brutal burglars could escape, but (after) we caught one of them. He promtly complained against the agent who caught him.
And when drinking beers in a free day’s night, one hears: “Hey, you let them all free!”
Jean-Marc Widmer: Yes, this hurts us. It is also hard for the families of the agents.
The situation is similar with asylum seekers from North Africa. They rob, riot, break into cars.
Jean-Marc Widmer: There we have a big problem. We must accept real asylum seekers being persecuted, that’s taken for granted. But we must take care not to import criminality from abroad.
Or one pays 4000 franks to criminals so that they then leave the country, as the Canton Geneva does.
Jean-Marc Widmer: That’s ridiculous! A big mistake. The biggest problem we have in Geneva are the gangs from Lyon. They laugh on the 4000 francs. They get 10.000 francs with one single car burglary. It is similar with the drug dealers.
What do you demand from politicians?
Jean-Marc Widmer: We need more severe punishments. The criminal code must be put fully into practice. Criminals must go to prison as soon as possible and not let them go free till the sentence is dictated. And we need urgently agreements with North African countries. They must be forced to get their criminals back. Criminals imprisoned in France request to be brought to Switzerland. Here they expect to get milder punishments. This cannot be allowed to happen.
It looks like the criminals are always one step ahead of the police.
Jean-Marc Widmer: This has turned more patent with the new technologies. Criminals use mobiles, the internet, and facebook. They can plan their actions much more rapidly and better. We have a deficit there.
Is there any solution at all? Or do we have to accept that we live in a place which is no more safe?
Jean-Marc Widmer: It is hard in regard of the drug criminality. The situation will get worse in this aspect. But the situation regarding burglaries and housebreakings can still be treated. But we must act now. We need more agents. Better today than tomorrow.
You demand 15.000 extra agents. Same number as thse already at service. THis is almost impertinent.
Jean-Marc Widmer: No. Switzerland needs 31.000 agents for its 8 million inhabitants. Belgium has some 38.000 agents for 11 million. And New York has 40.000 for 7 million. As compared to Europe, Switzerland is one of the countries with less agents.
Do you want a police state?
Jean-Marc Widmer: Not at all. But what does the population prefer? An increased and more efficient police presence with 31.000 agents? Or a country of crimes?
How does the lack of agents affect to the brigades?
Jean-Marc Widmer: Many agents suffer from physical fatigue. We do too many extra hours. This affects the very core of the person. This overstressing can lead to burnout.
Do you fing enough swiss people willing to join the police?
Jean-Marc Widmer: We’ll probably not find enough people (for this).
So the demand for 15.000 new agents is over?
Jean-Marc Widmer: No, we can accept foreigners.
The majority of Cantons oppose foreigner agent.
Jean-Marc Widmer: We must loosen this rule, as already happens in Geneva. In this way, germans, austrians of french people with a “c” class settlement status who, according to this, have been living in Switzerland for 5 years, could become police agents. They will undergo a one year training in a police academy in order to prepare them for the deployment. After the training, and before being sworn in, they could be nationalized through an accelerated procedure. This could be done through an exemptive clause.
And who would pay the training of the foreigner agents?
Jean-Marc Widmer: The union. There are already millions for combat jets. But I ask myself about where is security more at risk, in the air or in the streets. A glance at the criminal statistics shows the answer. This is just a question of political will. Security in everyday life must be considered by us as something valuable.
What happened if you don’t get the 15.000 new agents?
Jean-Marc Widmer: We do not want to get them all at once, but perhaps in an interval of 10 years. But it’s important to speak about theissue. The security of the citizens concerns us all. The Federal Assembly must realize the urgency (of this issue). One hears about the parties just before the elections. I myself will make this a strong concern in Bern. And I’ll be adamant
You want to lobby in Bern for a french-style rapid deployment force.
Jean-Marc Widmer: We need a mobile corps for the entire Switzerland. So one could also strenghten the federal police. This group could be in Geneva on Saturday at the Servette vs. Sitten football match, and on Sunday at the ZF Zuerich vs. Basel match. This would unburden the Cantonal corps, but would not disempower them.
Your project could have a rough ride in the federalist Switzerland
Jean-Marc Widmer: Not if we succeed in showing that we help the Cantons and do not prive them from any power.
You have another goal which you stated just after being elected. You want to fight the violence against police agents.
Jean-Marc Widmer: We urgently need a tightening of the law. Those insulting, attacking or making death threats to police agents in service must feel the full rigor of justice on them. Aggressions against agents must be condemned by the politicians and the Cantons. Nowadays this happens unfortunately in rare occasions.
In earlier times, the village policeman was a respected person. Nowadays this vision of them is fading, when one has to deal with the police. What has gone wrong?
Jean-Marc Widmer: This is a social problem. It’s also not easy for teachers and train attendants. Parents have an intense influence over their children, but often they do not realize this. Videogames and Youtube videos have a devastating effect on youngsters. There are games in which you get 100 extra points if you kill a police agent. This material should be retired.
Police agents belong to the group of those who most loudly criticise the schengen treaty.
Jean-Marc Widmer: No, this agreement has also its valid points, for example for travelers. But unfortunately also for criminals. They can smuggle weapons and drugs, and engage in human trafficking, without being thoroughly controlled. We the police have been deceived with Schengen. Of course, the access to the european database of people wanted by the justice helps us. We are now seeing the serious effects open borders have. Our borders have become a strainer. Schengen has done us more harm than good.
Would you perhaps want to terminate the Schengen treaty?
Jean-Marc Widmer: No, but we need special rules in Switzerland. We must protect our borders again, just as Denmark does now. Open borders make police work more difficult, and people don’t feel secure in their countries anymore. This should not be allowed to happen. We can now tell our own bad experiences. If not, then we have our hands tied. I know what happens in the Swiss borders. I’ve been in service there earlier. It cannot be that now anybody can cross the swiss borders with no control at all.