A look behind the scenes of the World Cup: Police Headquarters
They are the men and women who work behind the scenes to ensure that the World Cup runs safely and smoothly: up to 400 officers are on daily duty at the World Cup. We were allowed to take an exclusive look inside the "hallowed halls" of the operations center and learn more about the work of the police.
We visited the operations center in Reith near Seefeld. Operations commander Gerhard Niederwieser gives us an insight into their daily World Cup work. "So far, we are completely satisfied with how the World Championships in Seefeld are going!" he reveals. Between 200 and 400 officers are on daily duty, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Their scope of operations is very broad. "Our work ranges from large-scale traffic service and traffic service and information to everything else at the venue. We manage the flow of visitors, including filling and emptying the stadium. Every day, a total of around 25,000 visitors travel through Innsbruck city and Seefeld, with the daytime events and in the evening. We have to make sure that there are no bottlenecks or personal injuries. Here we work closely with the organizer's private security service, and the cooperation works excellently. In addition, the event venues have to be searched regularly for objects suspected of containing explosives, hazardous materials and so on, so that the event can be released in good time.
Another area is the criminal police sector: VIPs, prominent people and royalty such as the Swedish and Norwegian royal families must be given personal protection." But World Cup or not: "Normal operations run alongside, of course. It's important that all other areas run smoothly as usual, not least the normal commuter and rush-hour traffic that has to be handled on a daily basis.
The biggest challenge: the weather
Actually, the World Cup weather could hardly have been more perfect: Most of the time, bright blue skies and mild temperatures. For the fans, a blessing - for the police, rather less so. "The weather was almost too good, in fact it was too warm for the parking lots," reveals Josef Schreier, official head of operations and deputy district governor. Indeed, the previously established parking lots were flooded by the thawing snow, so they were eventually unusable. "It was the biggest challenge to create replacement parking spaces." But this challenge was also mastered well: an alternative parking lot was quickly found. "We are in good spirits that the parking spaces we currently have are sufficient," says Schreier.
"The fans are very imaginative!"
"Have there been many incidents at our World Cup in Seefeld?", we ask curiously. The opposite is the case - it is a peaceful and atmospheric World Cup. "There have been a few drunks," reveals Josef Schreier. Hannes Niederwieser adds, "And there were a few missing persons, all of whom have been found again.".Hannes Mader, commander in Seefeld, also says, "We are very satisfied for the size of the event! We were well prepared and everything is running smoothly." The men even praise the fans, especially those from the far north: "All those who have already followed the event on TV and Co. have seen that they are very original fans who are very imaginative - also with their costumes!", Niederwieser is pleased.
"They are very peaceful and affable people, the atmosphere is great and they are also very patient. They're nice people all the way through, and they still enjoy themselves in the Nordic Mile after the competitions and find their way home late at night."
So the mood among the police is relaxed: "There are many friendly encounters with people! We have about 15,000 official acts every day, where we help someone, direct traffic and so on," Niederwieser said. "But, of course, there is also the police task of punishing someone if need be. Order has to be maintained."
Praise for the traffic concept
A traffic concept was developed in advance to relieve the roads around Seefeld as much as possible. Fans with valid tickets can travel free of charge by public transport on the days of the event, and parking spaces with shuttles to the competition venues have been set up. Again there is praise from the police: "We have to thank the population for accepting the traffic control measures as we have suggested and ordered them on the part of the authorities," says Mader .Niederwieser is also pleased: " The traffic behavior is impressive, many people travel by public transport and the shuttle systems work very well." Mader continues, "We have very few complaints." On the contrary, "The feedback from all sides about the event and the official effort is very positive."
Full stadiums & pure atmosphere
In the next days of the World Cup, police officers expect even full stadiums. The last weekend will be a highlight not only in terms of sports and attract so many people. "We will continue to maintain and intensify all precautionary measures. We hope for a nice sports festival and assume that we can accompany the thing very well from the police measures!".
Animal helper: police dog Nemo
The helper on four paws: Police dog Nemo supports the work of the police. Even if Niederwieser assures that he is very cuddly - you certainly don't want to mess with Nemo...!
Photos: Stepan Claus, chief inspector; Wolfgang Ostheimer, lieutenant colonel; Michael Stocker, group inspector; Nemo, police service dog.
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Interview: Laura Zobernig