Dieter Glietsch, president of Berlin's police, and the capital's Interior Minister Ehrhard Körting have both spoken out in favour of identification, but the national council of police has rejected the idea.
Their suggested compromise is to give police officers the choice of wearing a badge with either their name or an identifying number on it, according to Bodo Pfalzgraf, from the German police union. A decision on this idea should be made by the end of the month.
Yet most of the state police forces are against making their officers identify themselves in a way accessible to the public – a prospect which was raised again after demonstrations in Stuttgart turned violent.
Thuringia's interior minister Peter Huber said Berlin was the only state not to agree on this, while his state's parliament voted on Friday against such a duty for officers taking part in large operations. Politicians said individual police officers should not be put in the position of being vulnerable to being singled out or put in danger.
“Uniforms are marked with service codes, which makes identification possible at any time,” a spokesman for Saxony's interior ministry said. That should be enough, he added.
Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt agreed with this point of view, with a spokesman for the latter saying that criminal investigation into a police officer had never failed due to a lack of identification.
A spokesman for the Bavarian interior ministry said the USK units – the state special police – were often deployed during left-wing and right-wing demonstrations. “We fear that in certain circumstances one or the other colleague could be put under pressure in their private lives if they were known by name,” said a spokesman.
In Baden-Württemberg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, uniformed officers have the option to wear name badges and often do, with no negative consequences, said a spokeswoman for the former state. Police units used in large operations do not wear them, although their uniforms and helmets are marked with identifying codes.
Brandenburg is the only state apart from Berlin to see things differently, with a broad political consensus that identification should become mandatory for uniformed officers. Yet no decision has yet been reached on what form this identification should take.