Police finally allow stop-and-search zones to expire

Saying that gang violence has subsided, police have let their ordinances expire after numerous extensions dating back to January

The stop-and-search zones in Copenhagen, the western suburbs of Gladsaxe, Herlev and Ballerup and the northern suburb of Kokkedal finally came to an end this week, as the police have decided to not renew stop-and-search ordinances that have been in effect since January.

Copenhagen Vestegn Police were the first to introduce a stop-and-search zone – which allows police to frisk any person or car within the area without any reason or suspicion – on January 12 after 19-year-old Jonathan Taboryski was shot and killed in Høje Gladsaxe the previous day. On January 15, the zone was reduced to cover Gladsaxe, Herlev and Ballerup.

Following the death of Taboryski, two additional shootings over that same weekend caused Copenhagen Police to establish a stop-and-search zone stretching from Nørrebro to Tingbjerg, also including most of Fælledparken, on January 14. On January 22, a stop-and-search zone was established in Kokkedal after an incident in which police were forced to fire warning shots at gang members.

All of the incidents that led to the establishment and numerous extensions of the ordinances are believed to be gang related.

But police let the last one expire on May 21 as they feel that the ongoing gang conflict has settled down.

“The last couple weeks there have not been any shooting incidents and we have not confiscated any weapons. So we have decided not to extend our zones. But our effort against the gangs will remain at full speed,” Bent Isager-Nielsen, the chief superintendent of Copenhagen Vestegn Police, told Berlingske newspaper.

Since the zones were introduced, Isager-Nielsen's police force has confiscated 62 firearms as well as knives and narcotics.

In an effort to get more guns off the streets, the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), has teamed up with the police to offer amnesty for anyone who turns in weapons between June 1 – July 1. 

"I would strongly encourage anyone who has illegal weapons to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to get rid of them without risking punishment," Bødskov said in a press release. 

According to the Justice Ministry, a similar offer in 2009 resulted in 8,344 guns and 3,466 knives and other weapons being turned in to the police.