Icelandic Police

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Icelandic Police
Lögreglan
Icelandic police star (logo).jpg
Official insignia
Motto Með lögum skal land byggja.
A country shall be built by law.
Agency overview
Formed 1778
Employees ca. 805 (2011)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency Iceland
Size 103,000 km2
Population 325,671
Governing body Icelandic government
General nature
Operational structure
Elected officer responsible Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Minister of the Interior
Agency executive Haraldur Jóhannessen, National Commissioner
Facilities
Police cars and motorcycles ca. 300+ (2012)
Website
www.logreglan.is

The Icelandic Police (Icelandic: Lögreglan) is responsible for law enforcement throughout the country, except in Icelandic territorial waters which fall under the jurisdiction of the Icelandic Coast Guard.[1] Police affairs in Iceland are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior[2] and are administered by the Office of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police (Icelandic: Embætti ríkislögreglustjóra) on behalf of the ministry.[3] The organization is divided into 15 districts, the largest being the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police (Icelandic: Lögreglan á höfuðborgarsvæðinu), which is responsible for the Capital Region[4] and its total population of around 208,000 people.[5]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The Icelandic Police can trace its origins to 1778 when the first traces of industry started to appear. Up until that time, the law had been enforced first by individuals permitted to do so by the Althing and then by sýslumenn (sheriffs) and other Royal proxies.[6]

The first Icelandic policemen are considered to be the morningstar armed night-watchmen of Reykjavík who were commissioned primarily to deter the prisoners of the Reykjavík prison from breaking into the Innréttingarnar(is).[7]

In 1803, the first proper policemen were commissioned in Reykjavík as it became a free town or kaupstaður(is). The first police chief was Rasmus Frydensberg, the town mayor, who hired two former soldiers, Ole Biørn and Vilhelm Nolte, as the first policemen. It was not until shortly after 1891 that policemen were hired in most of the other areas of Iceland.[8]

Post 1900[edit]

In 1933 Alþingi passed the Police Act which provided state participation in financing of police forces. This was done mostly in response to the threat of a communist revolution, whose capabilities had become apparent in violent attempt to force the decisions of the Reykjavík city council, where a large part of the police forces went out of action as a result of physical injury. The act also authorized the Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical affairs to call out reserves in critical situations.[9]

In 1972 the state took over command of law enforcement in Iceland, creating the National Police and in 1977 State Criminal Investigation Police started operations under a special Director. The State Investigation Police took over investigations of criminal activities that previously were under the control of the Reykjavík Criminal Court and police commissioners in the Capital Region.[10] National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police was formed in 1997 and State Criminal Investigation Police was decommissioned.[11]

First-ever shooting death[edit]

On December 2, 2013, a person died due to an armed police operation for the first time in Iceland's history. Police had responded to reports of shotgun fire in an apartment in Árbær, a Reykjavík suburb.[12] Initially tear gas was used in an attempt to subdue the gunman,[13] a 50-year old man, but it failed to affect him.

When an armed police team entered the apartment in question, two officers were injured by shotgun fire, one officer was holding a ballistic shield which got hit, the other officer got hit in the head, but the officer was wearing a ballistic helmet, which led to other officers returning fire. The gunman was taken to the hospital, where he died. National Police Commissioner Haraldur Johannessen immediately apologised to the man's family, calling the incident "unprecedented"[14] The shooter's motives were not immediately clear, though some neighbours reported the gunman was making threats towards them.[15] An investigation into this incident was launched, and the guns involved on all sides were seized. Counseling is being offered to the officers involved.[16]

Ranks[edit]

Order Title Picture English translation
1. Ríkislögreglustjóri National Police Commissioner
2. Vararíkislögreglustjóri
Lögreglustjóri
Skólastjóri Lögregluskóla ríkisins
Deputy National Police Commissioner
Police Commissioner
Director of the Police Academy
3. Varalögreglustjóri í Reykjavík
Staðgengill Ríkislögreglustjóra
Deputy Commissioner
4. Yfirlögregluþjónn Iceland-police-1997-with-id-number-5 Chief Superintendent/Detective Chief Superintendent
5. Aðstoðaryfirlögregluþjónn Iceland-police-1997-with-id-number-4 Superintendent/Detective Superintendent
6. Aðalvarðstjóri
Lögreglufulltrúi
Iceland-police-1997-with-id-number-3 Chief Inspector
Detective Chief Inspector
7. Varðstjóri
Rannsóknarlögreglumaður
Iceland-police-1997-with-id-number-2 Inspector
Detective Inspector
8. Lögreglumaður Iceland-police-1997-with-id-number Police Officer/Constable
9. Lögreglunemi
Afleysingamaður í lögreglu
Héraðslögreglumaður
Iceland-police-cadet-insignia Trainee
Temporarily Employed Policeman
Temporarily Employed Policeman (not graduated from the police academy)

The numbers at the bottom explain when you graduated from the police academy; ror example, 9605 means he/she graduated from the police academy in 1996 and was the 5th to graduate from the academy.[citation needed]

Equipment[edit]

Uniform[edit]

The Icelandic police wears black uniforms marked with traditional black and white checked markings and the Icelandic police star. The working uniform varies from a traditional service uniform (shirt and trousers) to tactical overalls. The old traditional Icelandic service uniform is now used as a dress uniform. The trousers patrol officers use are made from a fire-resistant material.[citation needed]

Duty belt[edit]

A standard police officer on patrol normally carries an expandable baton and an MK-4 OC-spray (pepper spray) canister. They do however also carry a pair of rubber gloves, pocket knife, handcuffs (and/or, in some situations plastic handcuffs) and a small LED Maglite flashlight.[citation needed]

Weaponry[edit]

Although Icelandic police officers carry only extendable batons and MK-4 OC-spray (pepper spray) whilst on duty, they are trained in the use of firearms and are issued firearms in certain situations.[17]Competition shooting with handguns is common within the police. Some of the patrol vehicles are equipped with firearms, longer batons, riot shields and spike strips; the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police, however, do not have firearms in their vehicles, rather it is primarily the special operations team, the Víkingasveitin, and the police out in the more remote areas of the country.[citation needed]

Firearms[edit]

Transport[edit]

In Iceland, police vehicles are white with the Icelandic word for "police", Lögreglan, written in blue letters. The cars also have blue and red stripes with the Icelandic police star overlaying the stripes on the front doors. The sides of the cars are also marked with blue and yellow angular stripes. All markings are of reflective material and the emergency lights are all blue.[citation needed]

The riot division of the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police, which is stationed outside the country's national parliament, often rents the vehicles it uses for operations from car rental agencies because of a lack of funding.[citation needed].

The National Police Commissioner owns all of the vehicles used by the police districts around the country. Regional districts rent their vehicles from the National Police Commissioner, paying a per-kilometre charge to cover operating costs, etc. for a period of five years.[18] The Víkingasveitin uses the Volvo XC90 and Volvo XC70 as well as other unmarked vehicles that have been modified for tactical operations.[citation needed]

Vehicles[edit]

Organisation[edit]

The Icelandic Police is under the supreme command of the Minister of the Interior and the National Police Commissioner (Ríkislögreglustjórinn(is)) administers the police under authorization of the Minister.[19]

The National Police Commissioner, with headquarters in Reykjavík, maintains investigative divisions, such as the National Security Unit, as well as the independently operated tactical operations unit, the Víkingasveitin, and the Icelandic Prison Service. The police is further divided into 15 districts of various sizes and responsibilities. The districts follow the old county boundaries or sýslumörk.[citation needed]

Icelandic Intelligence Service[edit]

In 1939 at the orders of then Prime Minister Hermann Jónasson, the State Police and the Útlendingaeftirlitið(is) (Foreigner monitoring agency) founded a Security department or eftirgrennslanadeild(is).[citation needed]This service was founded primarily to monitor Nazi scientists in Iceland as well as communists. After World War II, this service had the embassies of communist countries under surveillance and compiled lists of communist sympathizers and potential saboteurs or terrorists.[citation needed] It was not until 2006 that this service was officially acknowledged, after having been known to only a handful of men for more than 60 years, after historians were granted limited access to secret documents.[citation needed]

The National Commissioner's National Security Unit (Greiningardeild Ríkislögreglustjóra) is currently responsible for internal intelligence activities.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Us". Icelandic Coast Guard. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "About Us". Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "The National Commissioner of Police - An Introduction". The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Reykjavík Metropolitan Police – New Structure" (pdf). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Population by municipality, sex, citizenship and quarters 2010 -2014". Statistics Iceland. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Guðjónsson, Guðmundur, ed. (April 2003). "The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. p. 6. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  7. ^ The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 9-10.
  8. ^ The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 15.
  9. ^ The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 24.
  10. ^ The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 25.
  11. ^ The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch, p. 32.
  12. ^ "Iceland police kills gunman in country's 'first ever' police shooting". Fox News. Associated Press. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Rare Iceland armed police operation leaves man dead". BBC. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Edwards, Anna (3 December 2014). "Police in Iceland shoot a criminal dead for the first time… and immediately 'offer condolences' to the man's family". Daily Mail (London, United Kingdom: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Regret over Iceland's first police shooting". Al Jazeera. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Malcom (3 December 2014). "First fatal police shooting in Iceland leaves gunman dead". Reykjavik, Iceland: IceNews. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Guðjónsson, Guðmundur, ed. (September 2005). "Icelandic Police and Justice System: A short introduction" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. p. 10. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Office of The National Commissioner of Police: An Introduction" (PDF). The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. October 2004. p. 27. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  19. ^ Icelandic Police and Justice System: A short introduction, p. 6