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New Danish Police Unit Play Video Games—But Not For What You Think

Police online patrol team
Police officers in Denmark want to curb online bullying by playing games

The Danish police have carved out a special unit called Politiets Online Patrulje (Police Online Patrol). They have been tasked with strengthening the digital presence of the police to make it easier for citizens to engage with police online just like they would on the street corners.

One of the roles of the new Danish police unit is to play online games to monitor signs of abuse. The police officers actively engage in online games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Minecraft, and Fortnite and try to spot signs of child grooming, fraud, and hate speech.

The initiative started in April 2022. One unique feature of the Danish police unit in online games is that they have customized avatars in some games that give off their identity. They even stream on Twitch regularly and share clips of their behind-the-scenes actions.

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On the surface, this may seem like a silly decision. However, there has been a rise in toxicity in streaming and online games. Players in some games report regular harassment and hate speech.

Swatting has often been reported and the result is far from pleasant. Sadly, no single solution has proven effective for the different problems.

Game developers are doing their best to curb bullying

Danish police unit playing games

Hitherto, efforts have been made to combat bullying in games. On their part, game developers and publishers are toughening their speech filters as well as encouraging players to report abusers. In games like Overwatch, some comments are either removed or replaced with a toned-down version.

Also, game developers and publishers are increasingly looking for ways to fight hate in games using AI. Despite all the efforts, no definite solution has been found.

There are speculations that the sheer presence of the Danish police can be the silver bullet that will serve as a deterrent for perpetrators. For now, there is no data to show if the unit has succeeded in its role or not.

Nevertheless, there have been mixed feeling about cops monitoring online games. On one end, the move was praised; on the other, it was described as a step gone too far.

Regardless of the opinion, it is highly unlikely that a handful of Danish police will be able to monitor everything that happens in online games or change the world.

While those in favor of the presence of the Danish police unit in online games agree they may be too small to make a real difference, they also commend the police for giving the issue the seriousness that it deserves.

The challenge with drafting Danish police to monitor online games

Danish police officer holding a gun

Some gamers expressed their concerns about drawing the Danish police unit to monitor online games. The concern centered on the fact that some of the officers were either not tech-savvy or conversant with video games.

Therefore, these officers may not be aware of the potential threats that come with streaming and gaming. Being unaware of these dangers, the Danish police officers may not know where to look or how to engage with the potential abuser to catch them.

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This is because most cases of harassment are manifested by losing players. Therefore, if a police officer is unable to show real talent in most games, they will keep losing to an abuser and are less likely going to be harassed.

Surprisingly, there are still police officers who think cyberstalking is not a crime. On 26 June 2022, Game Rant reported a case where Twitch streamer, Kaitlyn ‘Amouranth’ Siragusa, was told by a police officer that her cyber stalker had committed no crime until he showed up in front of her door and was arrested.

Instead of creating a special police unit with officers that may know nothing about online gaming, a better solution should have been partnering with real gamers that experience these issues on a regular basis to help them track and arrest online abusers.

While online threats may not seem dangerous at first, they often spill over to the real world. That time, it may be too late for the victim. As the popular mantra says, “Prevention is better than cure”. Anything the Danish police can do to prevent crime is more than welcome.

The work of the Danish police team goes beyond just playing games

Monitoring abuses on online games is just one of the duties of the new Danish police department. Part of their job description is to ‘patrol’ social networks. There, they will engage in dialogues with young people and children to prevent crime and wrong behavior or intervene during offensive behavior.

The online police patrol unit has a Facebook Messenger where citizens can reach them and complain about suspicious behavior on the Internet. Those seeking advice on safe Internet navigation will also find it. They also have their dedicated Discord server as well as accounts on Steam.

The unit also has a page on Instagram and TikTok. The Danish online police patrol is part of a multi-year treaty with the government.

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