Two sets of German and Polish towns that share a border crossing between the two countries officially started a pilot project on Monday aimed at fighting cross-border crime.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich was in the German town of Frankfurt (Oder) on the Polish border with his Polish counterpart, Jacek Cichocki, to mark the start of a new cooperation between the two countries.
The pilot project is scheduled to run for one year. It will involve German Federal Police and Polish border police working the same beats together, as well as participating in training sessions with each other.
According to a statement published on the German interior ministry's website on Monday, since Poland was added to Europe's open-border Schengen zone at the end of 2007, there has been an increase in crime on the German-Polish border. Break-ins at apartments, basements, and garages have been on the rise as well as theft from construction sites.
"The positive accomplishments of Schengen cannot be discredited through border crime," the statement read.
"We won't accept that," said Friedrich. "This is the work of organized crime."
The German federal police will cooperate with their colleagues across the border, working out of their respective regional headquarters, in implementing the pilot project.
"The cooperation between Germany and Poland on all levels is the right approach that we need to follow up and expand upon," Friedrich said.
Cichocki also said Monday that some border controls would be tightened during the upcoming European Championship soccer tournament, which Poland is co-hosting with Ukraine from June 8 to July 1.
Exceptions to the Schengen zone's open-border policy can be made when large numbers of people are expected to be moving across national borders. Ukraine, which shares a border with Poland, is not a member of the Schengen zone, but border controls there may be relaxed slightly to keep the large flow of soccer fans moving.
mz/msh (AFP, dpa)