Duties and Rights: What the Public Order Office is allowed to do
In inner cities, they are mainly known as Knollchenschreiber: employees of public order offices, however, have far more rights. What they are allowed and what not – and how this differs from the scope of the police: an overview of the German lawyer information.
As inaccurate as it sounds, the Central Office’s task is to maintain public safety and order in order to maintain general security. Be it by transferring false parking, stopping disturbances to the peace or sanctioning illegal waste dumping. But how far are the powers??
It always depends on where you ask: regulatory law is a national matter. Thus, the powers vary according to the state. Attorney Robert Hotstegs, lawyer specializing in administrative law and member of the German Bar Association (DAV), summarizes the connecting element of all ordnungsämter as follows: “The Public Order Office is responsible for the ‘slower’ matters.” An example: The traffic is the responsibility of the police, for the dormant the public order office.
Employees of the public order office are therefore never police officers. Although they have access rights and certain control powers in certain areas. “However, they are usually not allowed to force this through,” says Hotstegs. For this it then needs the help of the police, which supports the public order, for example, when it comes to entering a property.
Which powers the Public Order Office has in detail: an overview
1. Personal checks: personal data, search and detention
In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the Ordnungsbehördengesetz regulates that employees of the Public Order Office are allowed to inspect and identify personal data under the same conditions as police officers. Also in other state laws there is a corresponding paragraph.
“To guard against danger or suspicion of a crime, can be controlled. Then the citizens may be stopped and identity cards or passports are checked, “says lawyer Robert Hotstegs.
And the powers go even further: If someone has no ID card and the person can not be identified in any other way, a search of the person and the carried things is possible. However, the administrative law expert makes a restriction: “As with police officers, here too: without cause, there is no control and certainly no search.”
Also place references may pronounce the public order office and even take people in custody. “This can be considered, for example, if children or young people have escaped the custody of the guardians,” explains Hotstegs. Then minors could be taken into custody and handed over to the guardian or the youth welfare office.
2. Controls of vehicles and drivers
As mentioned at the beginning, employees of the Public Prosecutor’s Office intervene when the traffic is at a standstill. Although they are not allowed to wave out cars, they do control vehicles but also apartments. for example, when the identity of a person needs to be established. Attorney Robert Hotstegs: “If there is an occasion for this and the person can not identify himself, also vehicles, objects in the vehicle, so for example also luggage, may be searched.” That is not uncommon.
3. Intervene in disturbance of the peace and dissolution of parties
That too may the Ordnungsamt. If there is a suspicion of disturbing the peace or annoying the neighbors, it may intervene, determine personal details, give place references and may even enter the apartment.
In general, however, this is done in cooperation with the police, says Hotstegs – or only by the police. The reason: parties are usually celebrated at night and there is no patrol of the public order more on the way.
4. Carrying and using weapons
Despite these far-reaching powers, employees of the Public Order Office are not allowed to carry weapons. For as long as the state law does not provide for special weapons carrying weapons and the employees are trained accordingly, it is prohibited. “But you also have to say that this is basically not necessary,” estimates Robert Hotstegs. If the public order office gets into a difficult situation, it can ask the police for support.
However, some states make this rule an exception. For example, some cities in North Rhine-Westphalia have allowed employees of their public order offices to carry batons since 2017. These should prevent situations from escalating. In addition, the employees have irritant gas in so-called irritant gas sprayers. These devices look similar to pistols.
5. Blue light through the city center
That may well be allowed, but again depends on the state. In North Rhine-Westphalia in 2009, the Higher Administrative Court of Münster “whistled” back many cities and towns that let their law enforcement employees with blue lights through the streets. Although law enforcement agencies would perform security tasks, they were not police in the sense of traffic law. The effect of a vehicle with blue lights must continue to have effect, so the judges in its reasoning (AZ .: 8 A 1531/09). The result was: blue and white cars are fine, blue lights are not.
Tip: From the public order office wrongly taken into custody – how to resist
Anyone who thinks he has been illegally arrested can defend themselves just as much as with police actions. “Here the express way to court is expressly intended”, so Hotstegs.
It is always the local district court in charge, in whose district the person is taken into custody. Here it is worthwhile to ask for the phone number of the local lawyers ‘association or the defense lawyers’ association and to be quickly advised and represented. If necessary, this is also possible at night and on holidays or weekends.
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