Federal Police (Germany)
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|Common name||Federal Police|
|Logo of the BPOL (since 2009)|
|Formed||1 July 2005|
|Preceding agency||Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS) (Federal Border Guard)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
The Bundespolizei (BPOL) is a (primarily) uniformed federal police force in Germany. It is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern (BMI)). Ordinary police forces (which are much more sizable in combined numbers) fall under the administration of the individual German states (Bundesländer) and are known as the Landespolizei.
The Bundespolizei was previously known as the Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS) ("Federal Border Guard") and had a more restricted role until July 1, 2005 when the law renaming the BGS as the BPOL was enacted. Prior to 1994 BPOL members also had military combatant status due to their historical foundation and border guard role.
The BPOL has the following missions:
- border security, (Grenzpolizei or Grepo) to include passport control and the provision of coast guard services along Germany's 700 km coasts.
- protection of federal buildings of constitutional organs like Schloss Bellevue, the residence of the German Bundespräsident; they also protect the two highest German courts, both in Karlsruhe:
- providing the federal government's mobile response force for internal security events,
- providing transportation security at international airports and on the German railways
- provides counter-terrorism forces (GSG 9).
- provides air (or sky) marshals.
- supports international police missions for the United Nations and EU in Kosovo, Sudan, Liberia, Afghanistan, Gaza Strip, Moldova and Georgia.
- document adviser for airlines around the world
- provides in-house security for German embassies in several countries
- It is one of several civil organisations providing rescue helicopter service.
The Bundespolizei can also be used to reinforce state police if requested to do so by a state (Land) government. The BPOL maintains these reserve forces to deal with major demonstrations, disturbances or emergencies to supplement the capabilities of the State Operational Support Units. Several highly trained detachments are available for crisis situations requiring armored cars, water cannon or other special equipment.
The BPOL has investigators who conducts criminal investigations only within its jurisdiction; otherwise the cases are referred to the appropriate state police force or to the federal criminal investigative agency, the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA).
In addition, the Bundespolizei cooperates closely with German state executive authorities such as the Prosecutor's Offices called Staatsanwaltschaft in pursuing criminal investigations.
The Bundespolizei consists of around 40,000 personnel,
- 30,000 are fully trained police officers.
- 10,000 salaried civilian (unarmed) support personnel,
The BPOL national headquarters (BPOL-Präsidium) is in Potsdam performing all central control functions. Eight regional headquarters (BPOL-Direktion) control the BPOL stations conducting rail police and border protection missions. These areas of responsibility conform to the federal state boundaries which they did not do prior to 1 March 2008.
The regional headquarters are as follows:
- Bad Bramstedt covering Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,
- Hanover covering Bremen, Hamburg and Lower Saxony,
- Sankt Augustin covering Northrhine-Westfalia,
- Koblenz covering Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse,
- Stuttgart covering Baden-Württemberg,
- Munich covering Bavaria,
- Pirna covering Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, and
- Berlin covering Berlin and Brandenburg.
These regional headquarters each have an investigation department and a mobile inspection and observation unit. Moreover, they control the 67 BPOL stations (BPOL-Inspektion) which in turn control the Bundespolizeireviere or precincts located in places that require a 24-hour presence by BPOL officers.
A special Direktion is responsible for Frankfurt International Airport.
The central school for advanced and vocational training is in Lübeck and controls the five basic training schools in Swisttal, Neustrelitz, Oerlenbach, Walsrode and Eschwege. It is also in charge of the Federal Police Sport School in Bad Endorf and a competitive sport project in Kienbaum near Berlin . The sport school specialises in winter sport events and has trained many of Germany's top skiers and skaters such as Claudia Pechstein.
The Zentrale Direktion Bundesbereitschaftspolizei controls the mobile support and rapid reaction battalions located in Bayreuth, Deggendorf, Blumberg (near Berlin), Hünfeld, Uelzen, Duderstadt, Sankt Augustin, Bad Bergzabern, Bad Düben and Ratzeburg. The number of Bereitschaftspolizei companies increased in March 2008 from 28 to 29 comprising approx. 25 percent of Germany’s police support units.
BPOL Special Units
The following special units also exist:
- The BPOL Aviation Group is directly subordinate to the BPOL HQ in Potsdam. It controls the five aviation squadrons around the country that operate the force's helicopters. These are located in Fuhlendorf (north, with satellite airfield in Gifhorn), Blumberg (east), Fuldatal (centre), Oberschleißheim (south) and Sankt Augustin (west). Its duties include; border surveillance, monitoring installations belonging to German Rail, helping in serious accidents and disasters in Germany and abroad, searching for missing persons, searching for criminals on the run, supporting the police forces of the federal states, providing transportation for persons whose security is endangered, providing transportation for guests of the Federal government, supporting federal and state authorities, and providing air search and rescue services in coordination with the 12 air rescue centers throughout Germany.
- The BPOL Information and Communications Center is now a department of the BPOL HQ in Potsdam.
- The water police stations with 16 patrol craft and helicopters are part of the German Federal Coast Guard and assigned to coastal BPOL stations. The watercraft include six offshore patrol vessels, e.g. those of the Bad Bramstedt class, as well as a number of fast inshore vessels and one tugboat.
In 1951 the German government established a Federal Border Protection Force (Bundesgrenzschutz or BGS) composed of 10,000 men under the Federal Interior Ministry’s jurisdiction. The force replaced allied military organisations such as the U.S. Constabulary then patrolling Germany’s international borders. The BGS was described as a mobile, lightly armed police force for border and internal security despite fears that it would be the nucleus of a new West German army. When West Germany did raise an army, BGS personnel were given the choice of staying in the BGS or joining the army. Most decided to join the army.
In 1953, the BGS took control of the German Passport Control Service. In 1976, the state police grades replaced the military rank structure and BGS training was modified to closely match that of the state police forces (Landespolizei). The West German Railway Police (Bahnpolizei), formerly an independent force, and the East German Transportpolizei were restructured under the BGS in 1990. In July 2005, the BGS was renamed the Bundespolizei or BPOL (Federal Police) to reflect its transition to a multi-faceted federal police agency. The change also involved the shift to blue uniforms and livery for vehicles and helicopters. The German Interior Ministry reviewed the structure of the BPOL in 2007 and in March 2008 made the structure leaner to get more officers out of offices and onto patrol.
Bundespolizei vehicles have number plates that are based on the BP XX-YYY system. BP stands for Bundespolizei. Older vehicles may still have the BGS "BG" plates.
XX is a number from 10 to 55 indicating the type of vehicle:
- 10 to 12: Motorcycle
- 15 to 19: Car
- 20 to 24: Four wheel drive car
- 25 to 29: Car
- 30 to 39: Medium four wheel drive vehicle
- 40 to 49: Trucks and buses
- 50 to 54: Armoured cars.
- 55: Trailers
YYY is a combination of up to three numbers.
The Bundespolizei have favoured, and in some cases still favour (where the model is still in production), the following types of car:
- BMW 5-series sedans and station wagons
- Volkswagen Passat sedans and Variant station wagons
- Volkswagen Golf
- Volkswagen Transporter vans
The Federal Police now has been reduced to three flight amenities pattern of 87 helicopters. This is the largest civilian helicopter fleet in Germany.
|Eurocopter EC-120||training helicopter||EC 120||6||replaced Allouette II in training role|
|Bell 212||rescue- / transport helicopter||Bell 212||5||to be replaced by 5 EC-155 in 2010-2012|
|Eurocopter Super Puma||transport helicopter||AS 332 L1||20||last Super Puma to arrive in 2010|
|Eurocopter EC 135||utility helicopter||EC 135||42||replaced Allouette II, Bell UH-1D in liaison and MEDEVAC role|
|Eurocopter EC 155||transport helicopter||EC 155 B||15||5 further EC-155 ordered to replace remaining Bell 212|
|Aérospatiale Alouette II||training and utility helicopter||SA 318C||-||last Allouette left the fleet in 2007|
|Aérospatiale Puma||transport helicopter||SA 330||-||last Puma left the fleet in 2008, replaced by Super Pumas|
|MBB Bo 105||rescue helicopter||Bo 105CBS||-||replaced by Eurocopter EC-135T2i|
Approximately 500 working dogs are used in the Federal Police at present. Most of the dogs are German shepherds. Other dog races are also used such as malinois, Dutch shepherd, German wirehaired pointer, giant schnauzer and rottweiler. They accompany their handlers on daily missions in railway facilities, at airports, at the border or in physical security. Most working dogs live with the families of their handlers. Basic and advanced training is performed under the supervision of the Federal Police Academy at the Federal Police canine schools in Bleckede (Lower Saxony) and Neuendettelsau (Bavaria) where dogs and handlers go through patrol dog and explosive detection courses.
- Law enforcement in Germany
- Bundeszollverwaltung - Federal Customs Services
- Landespolizei - German State Police
- Volkspolizei - Former East German Police
- OSCE Entry on BPOL http://polis.osce.org/countries/details.php?item_id=17#Country_Profile_Section_211
- Official BPOL news release on reorganisation (in German)
- "Einsatzschiffe sowie Kontroll- und Streifenboote" [Cruise and patrol vessels] (in German). Bundespolizei. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to German Federal Police.|
- Bundespolizei home page (in German)
- Historic Uniforms of the BGS, first camouflage, second camouflage und third camouflage pattern
- Information brochure about the Bundespolizei (in German and English) last updated August 2005
- (in German) - You can see the old Bundesgrenzschutz in historic pictures and films and you can listen songs of the Bundesgrenzschutz