The new law earned a lot of criticism. Before it was approved, more than 30,000 people demonstrated in Munich fearing a police state. The expanded police powers are a threat to civil liberties, said critics.
Article 2 of the new law states “The task of the police is to ward off dangers to public safety or public order that exist in general or in individual cases.” This means the law is relevant to everybody in Bavaria, no matter where he or she is from.
Most critics are afraid of one controversial aspect in the new law: “Imminent Danger” instead of “Concrete Danger.” This gives Bavarian police extended powers to intervene even before an offense has taken place. The definition is long, confusing and a matter of interpretation for police intervention, said lawyers.
“Imminent danger does not mean that there is no longer any suspicion needed, but an imminent danger exists when the police can prove that significant attacks are to be expected. However, the time and place of the action have not become concrete yet,” said Albert Brück, spokesman for the police headquarters of the Upper Palatinate. “The category of the imminent danger is not new either. The term was already added to the Bavarian police law in 2017 in fact of a decision of the Federal Constitutional Court in 2016.”
What new powers are given to the police?
According to critics, with these privileges, Bavaria’s 41,000 police personnel now have extended powers to open private letters, spy on apartments, and scan emails and telephone calls. Some citizens see this as a restriction of their fundamental rights.
“The law is to protect the citizens in advance of the occurrence of a criminal offense. For this you need the extended powers for the Bavarian police,” said Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann.
Christian Social Union party leader Thomas Kreuzer added, “Freedom needs security because security is required for freedom.”