COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark on Thursday announced a $150 million package to boost police and intelligence services days in a move that followed deadly weekend shootings in Copenhagen but had been prepared in response to deadly Islamist attacks in Paris last month.
Of the 970 million crowns of new spending, 415 million is for collection of information on terrorist threats from abroad. Some 350 million is for security services to monitor and respond to emergencies and to improve information technology.
Opposition parties welcomed the measures. But the said that, since they were launched in reaction to the killings in January of 17 people in Paris, they failed to address concerns arising from last weekend’s attacks on a free speech event and a synagogue in Copenhagen in which two people were shot dead.
Danish media have quoted police officers as saying they were ill-equipped and trained to respond adequately to the shootings over 13 hours from Saturday afternoon until early Sunday morning. Five police officers were injured.
Police were sent out to hunt down the attacker, 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, with poorly-fitting bullet-proof jackets and that it took 30 shots to kill him, local media said.
“After the events of the weekend, we can see that there are additional challenges around equipment, bullet-proof vests for police officers, training,” Lars Lokke Rasmussen, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, told journalists.
The new spending announced after a government meeting on Thursday “is not the full solution”, he said.
Some proposals in the new package have caused a social media debate as they suggest surveillance methods relatively alien to Denmark’s trusting society, including keeping a register of prepaid phones and collecting flight passenger records.
European Union exemptions granted to Denmark mean it is not subject to EU legislation on flight data sharing.
Other measures in the package would empower police to confiscate passports and ban people from traveling if they suspect their motives are to engage in terrorism abroad.
Denmark is still in shock from the weekend violence, which Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt called a terrorist attack.
The attacker was known to the police due to his links to a gang in Norrebro, an area of Copenhagen with a large immigrant community. He had been convicted of assault and released from prison a few weeks before the latest shootings.
Editing by Mark Heinrich