Special Deployment Commando
|Branch||Landespolizei (English: State police)|
|Type||Police tactical unit|
Spezialeinsatzkommandos (SEK, English: Special Operational Units) are police tactical units of each of the 16 German State Police forces. With the Mobile Operational Units (MEKs) and the Negotiation Teams (in some states) they are part of the police Special Forces of each state.
Mainly unrecognized by the media and public, the main missions of SEK units are to serve high-risk arrest warrants and to deal with barricaded suspects. Hostage sieges, kidnappings and raids also belong to their missions as well as other scenarios like personal security detail for VIPs or witnesses. Since the 1970s, each SEK has handled several thousand deployments. The front-runner is the SEK of the Berlin Police with up to 500 deployments a year, an average of 1.4 deployments a day.
After West and East Germany were unified in 1990, some ex-officers of the Diensteinheit IX in the Volkspolizei were merged into the SEKs after thorough political evaluation procedures, such as with SEK units in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and in Sachsen-Anhalt.
The SEK received a name change from Sondereinsatzkommando to Spezialeinsatzkommando when it was announced in 2013 because the former is usually associated with Sondereinsatzkommando Eichmann (English: Special Operations Group Eichmann), a unit in the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) tasked with overseeing the deportation of Hungary's Jewish residents.
In 2015, the SEK was called in to intervene in Erfurt, Thuringia after a 48-year old man barricaded himself in his apartment and acted violently towards emergency medical personnel. An SEK operator was wounded during the raid.
A Reichsbürgerbewegung supporter was confronted by the police in 2016 in Bavaria with the SEK deployed with one operator shot dead after they were ordered to seize the man's weapons due to being mentally unfit to handle them.
The organization of special police forces varies from state to state. Whilst most states have created one Special Deployment Commando which is based in their capital city, others have more than one. North Rhine-Westphalia Police or Rheinland-Pfalz State Police have established Special Deployment Commandos in other major cities as needed. The Bavarian State Police and Hessen State Police both have two Special Deployment Commandos – one each for the north and the south.
Most SEKs would have 40 to 70 operators attached, depending on the state.
A SEK unit can be attached to the (barracked) Rapid Reaction Police or to big regional police headquarters. However, the common trend is to put the SEK units under control of the State Investigation Bureau, the LKA. Many LKA have special divisions which consist of the SEK, MEK and crisis negotiation teams.
In some states the Personenschutzkommando (Personal Protection Commandos) are attached to the police Special Operation Forces as well. They are plain clothes unit that provide personal security to protect politicians and VIPs.
The internal organisation of SEKs rests with the units and therefore differs as well.
The SEK of South Bavaria has an alpine component and the SEK units of Bremen and Hamburg have elements trained for maritime tasks. Some SEKs also have specialized negotiation groups (Verhandlungsgruppen, commonly abbreviated as VGs) for cases like hostage situations or suicide attempts.
Eligibility and training
Any state police officer is eligible to apply for service in a SEK unit, but it is common only to consider applications from officers with at least three years of duty experience. The age limit is mostly between 23 and 35 years, whilst operatives have to leave the entry teams when they reach the age of 42 (or 45 in some states). Both sexes can be recruited; however, only a few policewomen have been able to handle the extensive and challenging tests.
The requirements demand physical and mental strength, discernment and capacity for teamwork. About 30 percent of all candidates pass the tests. The length of the training necessary to become an operative in a SEK unit differs but is generally five to eight months long and covers a wide range of required skills. Some of their training requires SEK operators to train with other police forces in Europe and North America.
While firearms are still issued by the forces, SEK officers can order equipment they feel suit best for the missions. The following weapons are used by SEK:
- Glock 17
- Heckler & Koch VP9, used by Saxony SEK.
- SIG P226
- SIG P228
- Korth-type revolvers
- Heckler & Koch USP pistols are utilized by some states.
- Smith & Wesson Model 625, modified to be suppressed for Northrhine-Westphalia SEK operators.
- Heckler & Koch MP5
- Heckler & Koch MP7
- Heckler & Koch UMP
- Heckler & Koch G36, used by Brandenburg SEK.
- FN SCAR Mk 16
- FN SCAR Mk 17
- Steyr AUG, only used by Bavaria SEK.
- Haenel CR223 carbine, only used by Hamburg SEKs/MEKs and Saxony SEKs.
- Heckler & Koch PSG1
The North Rhine-Westphalia SEK use Ford F-550 pickups modified to use MARS tactical ladders for raids on hard to reach places. The Saxony Police use the RMMV Survivor R and the Toyota Land Cruiser equipped with V8 engines as a first response vehicle. The Brandenburg State Police use the PMV Survivor I for its SEK units.
SEK members do not always operate in uniform but do wear masks to protect their identities, as well as to protect their bodies from burns. If cited in a trial they are only referred to by numbers.
When off-duty SEK officers are called to a crime scene, they may appear plain-clothed, only wearing their special protective gear and carrying their weapons.
The SEK Cologne has been accused of harassment while performing a initiation ritual on a new member. These charges were later dropped. Meanwhile Ex-GSG9 commander Ulrich Wegener accused the SEK of being badly disciplined since the officers were not punished.
Mobile Operational Units (Mobile Einsatzkommandos or MEKs) operate hand-in-hand with the SEKs.
These plain-clothed units specialize in surveillance, quick arrests and mobile hostage sieges. They are used in investigations against organized crime, blackmailers or other serious offenses.
MEKs also provide close protection for a state's senior leaders, including the state's minister president or interior minister. Requirements for duty as a MEK officer are similar but partially less strict than the requirements for the SEK.
- The SEK-equivalent unit in Hamburg is also called MEK.
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