Berlin’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) wants to continue to enforce the police station at Kottbusser Tor with all her might. Although their coalition partners from the Greens and Left, residents’ initiatives and tradespeople have repeatedly called for further talks and an open process to find a location for the Kotti guard, the lease for the rooms in the building block above Adalbertstraße has now been signed.
This emerges from an internal email from Spranger’s office on Friday. Accordingly, she “got knowledge” that “the lease for the police station at Kottbusser Tor” was “signed” between the state-owned real estate service provider BIM and the housing association Gewobag.
Spranger plans to open the police station by the end of the year. For the SPD politician, it is a prestige project in a crime-ridden place where drug trafficking, theft, violence and robberies are the order of the day. There are also social problems, poverty, homelessness, garbage and party tourism.
Residents and traders are not against a police station – but against the 200 square meter station in the former casino with a direct view of the Kottbusser Tor from above. The costs are immense for a station where only three officers per shift sit and write reports.
The budget initially only earmarked 250,000 euros for this, with the help of the head of the SPD parliamentary group in the House of Representatives, Raed Saleh, Spranger received another 3.5 million euros for it. The basic refurbishment will be more expensive, safety glass is required, and the guard must be better protected anyway.
The fact that the lease has already been signed triggers criticism in the red-green-red coalition. “I find that disappointing. The interior senator is tripping herself up,” said Greens interior expert Vasili Franco on Sunday. “If there is no round table on the location and no real participation, the interior senator risks that the guard will not be a gain for the Kottbusser Tor.”
Left-wing interior expert Niklas Schrader also expressed criticism: “I see the danger that the interior senator will use all of the local competence against herself and the situation there will not improve,” said Schrader.
The tenants’ council “Neues Kreuzberger Zentrum” (NKZ), as the high-rise building above Adalbertstraße is called, into which the guard is to move, also declared: “The entire political and civil society public in Kreuzberg rejects the location. Enforcing the choice of location from above will prove to be a disservice to everyone.”
The participation of tenants, users and tradespeople must be the focus – “this is criminally not done”. The location is wrong. “Consequently, this means that even a signed contract can be canceled and that should happen,” explained the tenants’ council.
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A week and a half ago, twelve groups of residents, activists and tradespeople around the Kottbusser Tor protested in an open letter against the location of the guard. They urged the Senate and lawmakers to halt the plans.
The Kotti guard was also discussed in the urban development committee of the district councilors of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. A Green motion calling for a “round table with all stakeholders involved” with close participation from the district was postponed under pressure from the SPD. She pointed out that a holistic concept was in circulation at the state level. One should wait for that.
It’s not about whether there should be a police station or not – “most people want a stronger police presence. It’s about the form,” said Green Party representative Taina Gärtner. For Gaby Gottwald (left), the Kotti guard at the planned location is “an idea of the Senate without consulting the district and the local people”.
Critics of the choice of location can even point to the police, because even there many are suspicious of Spranger’s plans. According to the police union (GdP), the planned 20 officers for three police officers per shift are not enough. This openly criticized the guard as a show object. In order to seriously fight crime, at least 65 additional officers are needed.
Norbert Sommerfeld recently made a clear statement in the “taz”. The 60-year-old is one of two contact area officers at Kotti. He said of the guard: “People are afraid that it will no longer be their Kotti.”
And: “In principle, given the size, the guard will only be busy with himself. The police officers won’t be able to go out.” Suitable rooms and permanent staff who know the neighborhood are needed. “Anyone who comes here and doesn’t know anyone is always checking the wrong person.”