Why didn’t the emergency call work on the night of the Hanau attack?

DThe police officer’s verdict is clear: “We have done what is humanly possible, what we were able to do to master this situation.” That’s what the officer said on Monday before the Hanau investigative committee in the Hessian state parliament, who on the night of racially motivated stop was deployed as a guard at the Hanau police station and answered the first emergency call. The police superintendent was alone, had to use two emergency numbers and another telephone, and was also responsible for people who came to the station to report the crime.

The Hanau police station did not have an overflow system for emergency calls, so some callers couldn’t get through because there were too many incoming emergency calls. The emergency call system could therefore only be reached unreliably. According to her own statement, the police commissioner did not know at this time that it was Hanau there was no emergency call overflow system. But when asked, she expressed the assessment that the operation would not have changed if more emergency calls could have been received. “I don’t know what we could have done better,” said the police officer.

What were the effects of the bottleneck?

The parliamentary investigative committee is dealing with the bloody crime in Hanau more than two years ago, which caused horror and grief across Germany. On February 19, 2020, the then 43-year-old Tobias R. murdered nine people with a migration background for racist motives and killed his mother in his parents’ home and then killed himself.

The meeting on Monday primarily dealt with the question of the effects of the bottleneck in the emergency call system. The 30-year-old policewoman described to the deputies how she took the first emergency call at 9:56 p.m. and how a colleague of hers, who took the second emergency call, immediately drove to the first crime scene. She was then alone at the station and, according to her own statement, was unable to alert a colleague in an office to help her due to the numerous incoming emergency calls. In the course of the questioning, it turned out that both emergency telephones could probably not have been reached, at least for a short period of time, because the police officer received calls about the attack on the regular exchange line and had accepted them.

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