xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

From Bavaria to Carroll: Two officers 4,000 miles apart compare policing

Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hugel, right, and Florian Behrens, polizeiobermeister or a senior police officer in Bavaria, Germany, first met through an online policing forum.
Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hugel, right, and Florian Behrens, polizeiobermeister or a senior police officer in Bavaria, Germany, first met through an online policing forum. (Courtesy photo)

Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Hugel and Polizeiobermeister (senior police officer) Florian Behrens live similar lives.

They go to work, where they each handle similar calls for traffic, domestic disturbances, burglaries, etc. After comparing their jobs, the two agreed that the main difference is location — some 4,200 miles apart.

Advertisement

"So pretty much, he works in Carroll County, but they speak German is what it comes down to," Hugel said.

Behrens is a state police officer in Bavaria, Germany. The capital of Bavaria is Munich. He described Bavaria as a rural state, adding that it was comparable to Carroll.

Advertisement

The state is the largest in area in Germany, and it's known to be the safest state, Behrens said. Similarly, Carroll is known to be one of the safest counties in Maryland, Hugel said.

Behrens and Hugel first met through an online policing forum. Hugel was researching his own family history, which traces back to Germany, and started talking to Behrens about the country.

Hugel invited Behrens to visit him in Maryland and to go to the National Police Week events in Washington. Hugel takes off every year in order to attend the memorial events, he said.

Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hugel, left, and Florian Behrens, polizeiobermeister or a senior police officer in Bavaria, Germany, first met through an online policing forum. They recently attended National Police Week events in Washington, D.C.
Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hugel, left, and Florian Behrens, polizeiobermeister or a senior police officer in Bavaria, Germany, first met through an online policing forum. They recently attended National Police Week events in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Over the weekend, Hugel and Behrens attended a candlelight vigil, memorial parade and memorial service to honor fallen law enforcement officers as part of National Police Week.

"It was a great experience," Behrens said. "I think I'll definitely come back and do that again."

There is not something similar in Germany, he said, adding that few officers are killed in the line of duty, unlike in the United States.

But the law enforcement family is international, so when an officer is killed anywhere, it touches the lives of police officers around the world, Behrens said.

Behrens also was not the only international officer at the events, nor was he the only one from Germany. He was able to participate as a member of the honor guard for the families of fallen soldiers because he was invited to by other German officers.

"I really like that they just let me participate with the German cops," he said.

Although police support differs in the different German states, Behrens said it is generally positive. There aren't protests against police or police brutality like one sees in the United States.

"We are well trusted and most of the people support law enforcement," Behrens said.

It's especially true in Bavaria, he said. Like in Carroll, many of Bavaria's politicians are pro-police.

Advertisement

On Wednesday, Behrens rode with Hugel while he was on duty. They toured the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack, and Hugel showed Behrens an overview of what it is to be a Carroll County Sheriff's Office deputy.

"The work and the daily procedures he [showed] me are very familiar," Behrens said.

In Germany, Behrens works as a polizeiobermeister, in the Polizeiinspektion Miltenberg, which means he works for the Miltenberg station of the Bavarian State Police, he said. Miltenberg is in the northern part of the state.

He handles traffic calls, domestic disturbances, burglaries, car thefts and other calls, all similar to what one might find in Carroll, he said.

"So it's pretty much exactly the same —the same, just a little different," Behrens said.

While Behrens said that there are few differences between what it's like to be a police officer in Carroll County and Bavaria, he did make note of a difference between policing in the U.S. and Germany: the difference in the level of violent crime between the two countries. While there are homicides, fights and assaults in Germany, violent crime is much lower in that country than in the U.S., Behrens said.

In terms of crime rates, according to one ranking system, the United States is ranked 30th in the world, while Germany is ranked 77th.

There are also few officers killed in duty, and street level crime is much lower, he said. Behrens chalks it up to gun laws, adding that Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

"We hardly get any shootings," he said.

In Germany, people cannot purchase a gun for self-defense. Hunting and gaming is one reason for being able to own a gun. Permission to carry is almost impossible to get outside of specific parameters, Behrens said. Procedures and laws also differ, he said.

"In the States, you can be locked up pretty fast for anything. It's not like that in Germany," Behrens said.

Behrens and Hugel compared notes on arresting people for driving under the influence. In the Maryland, the Sheriff's Office deputies often release a person after their first DUI, but they have the option to detain someone if they have prior infractions, Hugel said.

That's not the case in Germany. And instead of doing standardized field sobriety tests like in Maryland, Bavarian police offer a person a standardized breathalyzer, which is not admissible as evidence at trial.

Based on that reading, the person will either go back to the station for another breath test or a blood test. If the person refuses to blow on the side of the road, the police take the person back to the station and get a judge to sign off on a blood test request, Behrens said.

Training is also different. In Maryland, the standard academy is about six months, Hugel said. In Germany, the standard academy is 29 months, with some going for three years, Behrens said.

Hugel said they compared pay and it is relatively close, but the hours are fewer for Bavarian police. That's not the case everywhere, especially in Berlin, Behrens said, where hours are long, the equipment is worse and there is more crime.

Another difference is the patrol cars.

"The coolest thing he's told me is they drive BMWs," Hugel said. "That's the standard patrol car."

410-857-7898



Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement