Law enforcement in Turkey
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According to figures released by the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses of the Justice Ministry, there are 100,000 people in Turkish prisons as of November 2008; a doubling since 2000.
Turkish National Police
The police force is responsible for law enforcement in cities and some exceptional locations, such as airports, which they protect with the help of the customs office (Turkish: Gümrük Muhafaza). Traffic Police ensure the safety of transportation and also work with registration of vehicles. The Turkish Police also play a big part in important intelligence and counter-terrorist operations.
The high command of the Turkish Police, situated in Ankara, is called the General Directorate of Security (Turkish: Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü). Every district also hosts a District Directorate (Turkish: İl Emiyet Müdürlüğü). The organization has a centralized hierarchy similar to that of the Turkish Armed Forces.
In Turkey, Police officers wear navy-blue uniforms and caps. Patrol cars can be identified using the unique blue-white design and the writing “Polis” on the side doors and hood. Lieutenants and captains wear silver stars on their shoulders, highest-ranking officers wear golden stars.
Police officers are required to present their ID before approaching citizens.
Some well-known police units in Turkey are:
- Yunuslar (Motorcycle Units, yunuslar translates to Dolphins)
- Çevik Kuvvet (the Agile Force) who handle difficult cases like demonstrations with the help of K-9 dogs
- Özel Tim, which is the special response unit of the Department (quite like the American SWAT or the German GSG 9). This unit uses special weapons and rapid deployment tactics for exceptional circumstances, such as bank robberies, kidnappings, hostage rescues etc.
The Gendarmerie (Turkish: Jandarma), are military forces of law enforcement. They are trained and supplied by the army but they assume duties under the Minister of Interior. Their organization and duties are quite similar to those of the French Gendarmerie, or Italian Carabinieri.
Their area of jurisdiction is outside city centres, mostly in the country where population and pop. density are low and crime rates are especially high (this is even more true for the Southeastern Anatolia Region, where terrorist acts are committed every day in and out of towns). Most tourist sites are also areas of Jandarma’s jurisdiction because their average population throughout the year are not high enough to fall under the police departments.
The Turkish Gendarmerie engages in counter-terrorist operations in the southeast of Turkey.
The Gendarmerie also have an independent organization for Traffic Control (Turkish: Jandarma Trafik) similar to that of the police, but they take shifts outside the cities; similar to the American highway police.
In Turkey, Gendarmes can generally be spotted wearing dark green trousers and light green shirts, with special red-and-blue markings on their collars. But any army officer with the same markings no matter which uniform they are in is a Gendarme.
Village guards (Turkish: Köy Korucusu) are mostly locals in villages of the Eastern Anatolia Region. They perform auxiliary and voluntary law enforcement duty. Established by a 1985 law, their initial purpose was to defend villages against attacks from the PKK.
The Askeri İnzibat military police is a small force that is under military command that handles cases directly relevant to military security and military crimes. Their area of jurisdiction is generally limited to military bases. But they also track down military criminals (draft dodgers and deserters). Some of the other duties they perform are, protection and VIP detail provided to important bases or commanders, control of traffic inside the bases and providing security in military courts. They can be identified using the very obvious “AS. İZ.”, printed in large letters across the front of their helmets.
The Turkish Intelligence and counter-intelligence operations are conducted by more than one organization also acting with coordination.
Firstly, the Police and the Gendarmarie each have a department that perform duties relevant to the collection and analysis of intelligence and countering criminal acts. Police Intelligence Department is the Police force's intelligence wing, second one is Intelligence Department of Gendarmerie General Command.
Also, each of the Armed Forces have an intelligence branch within themselves. These are the Naval Intelligence, Army Intelligence and Air Force Intelligence. To supersede all three, the General Staff also has an intelligence branch which ensures the cooperation and coordination of these organizations.
As the external intelligence agency, The National Intelligence Organization (Turkish: Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, or MİT) conducts some part of the intelligence operations. Most of interior intelligence is provided by Police Intelligence Units. The undersecretary of the MIT (Turkish: MİT Müsteşarı) reports directly to the Prime Minister.Members of National İntelligence Organization have privilege of freedom from arrest however police and Gendarmarie has not.
And the Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security provides coordination between those agencies.
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Uniform and equipment
- Police brutality in Turkey, including Torture in Turkey
- "Turkish prisons house more than 100,000". Today's Zaman. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- "Police required to present ID, says interior minister Atalay". Today's Zaman. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
- Ferhat Ünlü (2006). "National Intelligence Organization". In Ümit Cizre. Almanac Turkey 2005 : Security Sector and Democratic Oversight. Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. ISBN 978-975-8112-79-1.