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German police give FW cops a few pointers

German police officers Malte Hoffmann, Jochen Ratjen, Frank Henningsen and Katharina Kutsche, from left, are learning about the Federal Way Police Department. The officers are here until Oct. 4 as part of an international law enforcement exchange program called STAR. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
German police officers Malte Hoffmann, Jochen Ratjen, Frank Henningsen and Katharina Kutsche, from left, are learning about the Federal Way Police Department. The officers are here until Oct. 4 as part of an international law enforcement exchange program called STAR.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

German law enforcement officers are in town for a friendly learning experience this week.

The officers are involved in an international law enforcement exchange program called STAR. Participating U.S. agencies in four to five states and Canada annually host the Germans for two weeks each September. Come May, U.S. officers have the opportunity to travel to Germany.

The program began in 1985. This is the first year since 1999 the city’s police department has participated, Federal Way police host Darlene Deyo said.

Three male officers and one female officer, all from separate agencies in Northern Germany, are staying with police hosts. Jochen Ratjen, State Bureau of Criminal Investigation; Frank Henningsen, Hamburg Police Department; Katharina Kutsche, Hannover Police Department; and Malte Hoffmann, Hamburg Police Department, arrived Sept. 19 and will depart Oct. 4. This is the first time each of the officers has visited Washington state.

Officers will tour, among other places, Valley Communications 911 center, the police academy, the State Capitol, McNeal Island Corrections Center and homeland security. The Seattle Police Department, Federal Way S.W.A.T. unit, Washington State Patrol aviation unit and the Tacoma police boat patrol plan to give presentations to the officers.

The presentations, tours and time with their host families allow the officers to learn how Federal Way police do their jobs, Lt. Terry Hoch said. It gives them an opportunity to compare programs in their German hometowns to those in Federal Way.

Federal Way and German crime is the same, but police operations are different, Ratjen said. Each of Germany’s 16 states is governed by a police chief. Individual cities have police departments, but they answer to a state chief. Officers there must attend the police academy for three years before they are allowed to be an officer; Federal Way officers must undergo about six months.

German officers also take part in riot control training and generally work in two-person teams. But Federal Way officers seem more aware of the presence of firearms, Henningsen said. Germany has stricter gun laws than the United States.

“Your officers are trained to be aware of dangerous situations (involving firearms) more than we are,” he said.

Officers here gain knowledge about the way law enforcement works in Germany when the officers notice differences and comment on those, Hoch said.

“The camaraderie is something you cannot replace,” she said. “It’s the most valuable thing we gain from it.”

Federal Way police are unsure, as of yet, if they will travel to Germany in May, Hoch said. “We hope officers of Federal Way take the opportunity to come over to Germany and do the same program,” Henningsen said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

To learn more about STAR, visit the program’s Web site at www.star-ipe.com.

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