Mr. Jacob, we would like to start with three half-sentences, which you will please complete. The first: In ten years, the people of Cologne should remember me as the police chief who..
Uwe Jacob: …has given everything for the city and, above all, for the people of Cologne and Leverkusen.
I leave my successor on my desk ..
… a card with a nice greeting and many good wishes for a good hand and a lot of humor.
If Netflix wants to make a fictional series about the Cologne police, I’d like to be played by..
… Dieter Nuhr. Substitute Atze Schroder. (laughs)
It’s no secret that you like Dieter Nuhr. They once quoted him as saying, "If you don’t have a clue, just shut the fuck up," countering criticism from Mulheim District Mayor Norbert Fuchs about a planned police reform. This escalated to the state parliament. Was the sentence a mistake?
My advisors had previously strongly advised me not to use the phrase. But sometimes a good line has to come out. And it did not fall publicly, but in an internal staff meeting. That this has reached the minister in the end, is a merit of the media. In the end, only "shut up" was in the headlines rather than the whole context. And I have spoken to Mr. Fuchs about it.
Uwe Jacob was born in Duisburg and lives in Moers. For the past four and a half years, he has commuted daily from there to Cologne. He has three grown-up daughters, and his wife brought a son into the marriage. In the meantime, Uwe Jacob is a grandfather.
Jacob became police chief in July 2017 in Cologne, on 31. January 2022 is his last working day, after which he will retire. Before his time in Cologne, the 65-year-old trained police officer held various positions in NRW, including at the Dusseldorf district government, the Ministry of the Interior and the State Criminal Police Office, of which he was head between 2013 and 2017. (ts)
Have you become more careful with what you say afterwards??
I am known for naming things clearly. But I’m not a politician, I’m the head of an authority that has a monopoly on the use of force. There’s no way around a lot of things. As a police officer, I am socialized to intervene directly if there is a problem somewhere. And for me, this includes clear language. As a police chief, you can’t be everybody’s darling, neither externally nor within the agency. I have to make too many difficult decisions every day.
Which of your decisions are you proud of?
On our construction projects, which involve sums in the three-digit million range. The guards in Weiden and the two in Leverkusen will be rebuilt. But much bigger will be the extension of the presidium in Kalk, which I have set in motion. There we are fully in the plan. The European-wide tender is finished, at the end of 2022 someone will get the contract and in 2026 my successor will move with her office into the new building and will then be a few meters closer to the cathedral than I was.
Uwe Jacob answering e-mails in his office
Successor? You have to explain. As far as we know, the Minister of Interior is still silent about your succession.
I like to gender there. In our male society, everyone always talks about the successor. But why does it have to be a man? Take a look at our gallery of ancestors below. If you go through all of them and count all of the female police chiefs in Cologne, you’ll come up with about zero. But it could be. At the LKA, too, I always talked about "my successor", if only because then everyone winced. My successor was then called Frank Hoever.
And what is the name of your successor here?
I have no idea. That is the sole decision of the state government. I am curious myself.
Why is humor so important in your job?
I have to take note of bad facts day after day. There you need a balance. Why should I go through life sad when I can just as well go through life happy?? You can also carry people away with that. Humor makes people more relaxed and open. I have a hard time dealing with ducks, with people who constantly try to tell me what to say. They don’t get me anywhere.
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Is there a mission in the past four and a half years that has particularly moved you??
In 2019, someone shouted "Allahu Akbar" outside the main train station and a group of young Afghans who had been celebrating Eid here ran into the station as a result…
… the police initially assumed a possibly planned terrorist attack, which fortunately turned out to be a mistake…
Yes. But nobody knew that at the beginning. The first officer on the scene was a motorcycle police officer. The had the men with drawn firearms in the main station on the ground spoken. The next day, he told me that he had simply been functioning in this situation. It was only in the evening, when he was putting his little daughter to bed, that he asked himself: What was I actually doing there?? What would I have done if he had had a hand grenade with him?? There were tears in his eyes. This unbelievable commitment of the colleagues every day, I find that impressive. Even though we were sharply criticized by parts of the public for our consistent intervention and were even accused of racism at the time.
However, there have also been cases in Cologne in which police officers from your department have actually attracted attention with at least questionable or right-wing extremist attitudes. All just isolated cases?
We have 6000 employees and have had about 20 low-threshold cases in the past four years. There was a lot of talk about terminology. These cases can’t happen at all, it doesn’t fit in with the police profession. Nevertheless, I am firmly convinced: we have the most democratic police force we have ever had on German soil. Nevertheless, there are always individual cases where you ask yourself: How could this happen??
The 20 cases are probably just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot that you and the executives probably don’t even realize.
This is not the tip of the iceberg, by any means. We communicate far too openly here for that. We have also trained and strengthened all 400 managers once again on the topics of racism and esprit de corps. Of course, I can’t rule out the possibility of an officer making a stupid or extremist remark at some station tonight. But I am firmly convinced that this is not a structural problem.
During the many business trips, Uwe Jacob takes care of phone calls, correspondence and types text messages
Another problem you won’t be able to solve, at least in the office: the increasing willingness to use violence at the party hotspots Ringe, Altstadt, Zulpicher Strabe. How should it continue?
We regularly patrol the area and have installed video surveillance. But I don’t think you can turn a big city, where so many people live and come to party, where a lot of alcohol is drunk and this creates aggression, into a monastery. That is not possible. We can help as police to knock off the tips, to eliminate the outgrowths. But we will not be able to pacify it completely. You should not fool yourself.
One record is certain for you: you will probably go down in Cologne history as the police chief with the best crime statistics of all time. What part does Corona have in this and what police brilliance?
We had about 150 in 2017.000 crimes in Cologne and Leverkusen and around 120 in 2021.000 – minus 20 percent. The number of traffic accidents decreased by 21 percent. I say in the breast tone of the conviction that a whole quantity of police activity and conception is in it, because the numbers went already down before Corona. Of course, we can’t take credit for the fact that they plummeted extremely during the lockdowns. But one thing is clear: Cologne and Leverkusen have become considerably safer.
This Monday is your last working day. What will you do tomorrow?
Sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast and read the "Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger. And if there are thick headlines in connection with the police, then I can imagine exactly what is going on here in the office right now.