US Troops Must Comply with New Weapons-Free Zone in Wiesbaden, Germany

A map shows the area of the new weapon-free zone instituted in downtown Wiesbaden, Jan 1. (U.S. Army photo)
A map shows the area of the new weapon-free zone instituted in downtown Wiesbaden, Jan 1. (U.S. Army photo)

City officials in Wiesbaden, Germany, are asking U.S. military personnel, including off-duty military police, to respect a new weapons-free zone aimed at preventing night-time violence in parts of the city.

"All kinds of potential weapons such as knives, screwdrivers, sharp-edged or pointed objects, clubs, baseball bats, axes and weighted-knuckle gloves are prohibited between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.," according to a Jan. 7 U.S. Army press release.

The new regulation, instituted Jan. 1, is designed to help the German Polizei prevent conflicts in the city center more effectively, since "young men have a tendency to solve disputes with a knife," Thomas Becker, first police chief inspector with the Wiesbaden Police Directorate, said in the release.

U.S. military police on duty are not affected by the regulation, but off-duty MPs "will have to respect the new rules like everyone else," Becker said.

The Polizei have the power to check suspicious persons without a particular cause, confiscate their weapons and fine violators up to 5,000 euros, the release states.

The weapons-free zone includes Kirchgasse, Langgasse, Michelsberg, Platz der Deutschen Einheit and parts of the Westend to Hellmundstrasse. Signs will be in place indicating the exact location of the "Waffenverbotszone" by late January, the release states.

U.S. military police frequently patrol civilian areas near large U.S. military bases in Europe. Last week, U.S. MPs and Italian police began conducting joint patrols of local bars following a "number of incidents involving U.S. personnel that reflected negatively on the Vicenza Military Community."

The details of recent incidents are unclear, but last February a paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne Brigade broke an Italian police officer's teeth after his behavior forced bouncers to call for help.

The soldier later pleaded guilty to injury, insult and resistance to public officials and received a suspended sentence of one year in jail.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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