Michael Laumer & Petra Welscher

Bayerisches Landeskriminalamt

Interaction dynamics in conflictual situations between citizens and the police

In recent years public debate has focused on cases of bodily harm in office by police officers on the one hand; on the other hand, there is increasing awareness of the fact that officers themselves are victims of massive physical violence in their everyday work as a result of acts of resistance and attacks. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the number of violent acts against police officers as well as the number of their victims increase significantly from 2012 to 2020. Therefore, the paper attempts to shed more light on the reasons for and the course of the escalation process and to identify possible alternative actions for de-escalating the conflict situation. It can be stated that the escalation process is mostly characterized by a three-step-course. On the part of the citizens, aggressive reactions in particular contribute to the aggravation of the conflict, while on the part of the police it‘s an early violent demand for authority. As soon as the police use physical force, the situation can no longer be expected to ease. Unambiguous, polite and calming commu­nication as well as sincere recognition of police authority on the part of citizens can counteract escalation. However, in cases where de-escalation is unsuccessful and police of­ficers use coercive means and force, citizens should receive better opportunities to have the lawfulness of the measures reviewed, for example through independent complaints de­partments/offices.

S. 35-40