Her mobile is always within arm’s reach on her bedside table. As head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Canton of Zurich, Christiane Lentjes-Meili must always be contactable. The police chief, boss of hundreds of policemen and women doesn’t come across as a hard-bitten cop, far from it. She greets us warmly at her office in Zurich on a chilly February morning and good-humoredly answers our many burning questions.
Christiane Lentjes-Meili studied law at UZH. As a student she particularly liked the Café Rondell in the main building, as well as getting to know so many interesting fellow students. Talking to one another is the best way to get ahead, the lawyer firmly believes. She worked for ten years in criminal prosecution of white collar crime, before becoming head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Canton of Zurich in 2010. For 19 years she has been fighting crime with her squad, from moderately serious offenses to complex criminality. Her people take care of “all cases that cannot be dealt with by the general police services,” as stated on the Criminal Investigation Department website. Examples of the crimes they deal with are people trafficking, robbery, murder, sexual offenses, internet crimes and others – many different areas and many tough cases.
During our visit on this cold Tuesday morning the criminal police are hard at work. When we stand up to go and record part of the interview in a detention cell, we are given a friendly warning: “Better if you turn right down the corridor”. And for once we don’t really want to know what we might have come across had we gone left.