• Germany's news in English
Cologne police promise huge carnival presence
Cologne's new police chief Jürgen Mathies (m) and commander Michael Temme (r), who will lead the carnival security force. Photo: DPA

Cologne police promise huge carnival presence

DPA/The Local · 1 Feb 2016, 15:23

Published: 01 Feb 2016 15:23 GMT+01:00

"Everyone should be able to celebrate carnival in Cologne without danger," independent mayor Henriette Reker said on Monday at a press conference to explain the security measures.

But both she and new police chief Jürgen Mathies – who has replaced Wolfgang Albers, the officer who stepped down after apparently covering up the events of New Year's Eve – said there was no such thing as 100 percent security.

Cologne mayor Henriette Reker is under pressure to make this year's carnival a success. Photo: DPA

"Cologne is taking action" to prevent a repeat of New Year's Eve, mayor Reker said. "The global public will be watching very closely to see how Cologne manages this challenge."

After New Year hundreds of women reported being surrounded by groups of men "of north African appearance" in and around the main train station, who groped or pickpocketed them.

Two cases of sexual assault so serious they qualify as rape in Germany were also reported.

Authorities and national media were widely criticized in the following days and weeks for failing to inform the public about the crimes.

Massive police presence

Around 2,500 police officers will be on the streets on Thursday evening for Weiberfastnacht – the traditional first night of the carnival's busiest weekend that will end on Monday next week with the Rosenmontag parade.

That figure is double the number of police who were on duty at last year's carnival, police chief Mathies said.

City authorities are spending around €475,000 on personnel costs and new equipment to cover the carnival weekend.

A federal police officer wearing a body camera patrols Cologne main train station in January 2016. Photo: DPA

As well as the police, around 830 firefighters and paramedics will also be in attendance.

And the Cologne Carnival organizing committee will post more than 200 observers with radios along the length of the Rosenmontag parade, as well as providing extra floodlights.

History of sexual assaults

Mathies acknowledged that sexual assaults have always been a problem at carnival time.

Problems with petty crime and sexual assaults against women have long been known at the Rhineland carnival and at other large German events such as Munich Oktoberfest.

Roughly 50 reports of sexual crimes – up to and including rape – have been reported every year at carnival, he said.

Story continues below…

At this year's carnival, a "Women's Security Point" with experienced advisors will be set up on the cathedral square.

North Rhine-Westphalia minister-president Hannelore Kraft told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that more women might report sexual assaults this year because of increased sensitivities.

The sudden explosion of domestic international and outrage over the Cologne New Year's Eve assaults prompted some German feminists to found the "ausnahmslos" (No Exception) movement.

They are pushing for changes to the law to make sexual harassment a crime, improve advice and support for victims, and improve awareness of sexual violence among the public, police and justice systems.

But they also aim to make clear that sexual violence is not a phenomenon that has been imported with refugees or Muslims.

SEE ALSO: A party that makes Oktoberfest look civilized

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Lion shot dead at Leipzig Zoo after breaking out of cage
Motshegetsi (l) und Majo. Photo: DPA

A young male lion was shot dead at Leipzig Zoo on Thursday afternoon after he broke out of his enclosure.

EU takes Germany to court for 'discriminatory' foreigner toll
A sign that reads "toll" along the Autobahn by Rostock. Photo: DPA.

The European Commission on Thursday said it is taking Germany to the EU Court of Justice because of the country's plan to impose a road toll that would mainly charge foreign drivers.

After 3-year trial, suspected neo-Nazi terrorist speaks out
Beate Zschäpe. Photo: DPA

Beate Zschäpe, the only living member of an underground neo-Nazi cell accused of murdering ten people, has spoken to the court in Munich after three years of silence.

Green party wants only e-cars on Autobahn by 2030
Photo: DPA.

The environmentalist Green party has an ambitious plan for German cars to be petrol- and diesel-free within the next 15 years.

Commerzbank to make one in five staff redundant by 2020
Photo: DPA

Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank said on Thursday it plans to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020 and withhold dividends to pay for a €1.1 billion restructuring.

Germany's favourite smoker wins battle against eviction
Photo: DPA

How a pensioner with a serious smoking habit won a years-long fight for his right to keep his home - and his favourite pastime.

Thousands evacuated after WWII bomb found in Cologne
File photo of a Second World War bomb: DPA

Several thousands people were being evacuated from a district of Cologne just north of the old town on Thursday morning, after a Second World War bomb was found in a parking lot.

Kidnapped German journalist and her baby freed in Syria
File photo of a Syrian soldier: SANA/DPA.

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria last year while she was pregnant has been freed along with her baby, the German Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Air Berlin to cut 1,200 jobs and halve airline fleet
Photo: DPA.

Struggling Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, announced on Wednesday a major restructuring plan that shrinks its fleet and cuts 1,200 jobs.

Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Photo: Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons.

From stunning chalk-white cliffs to fairy tale castles, Germany has some breathtaking sights to see, perfect for social media.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd