Police Special Operations Department
|Polis Özel Harekât Dairesi|
|Active||1983 - present.|
|Branch||General Directorate of Security|
|Role||Domestic Counter-Terrorism and Law Enforcement|
|Part of||Respective municipality-level police departments|
Police Special Operations Department (Turkish: Polis Özel Harekât Dairesi) or Police Special Action (Turkish: Polis Özel Harekât) shortly as PÖH is the special response unit of the General Directorate of Security.
Founded in 1982 as "Special Action Office" (Turkish: Özel Harekat Şube Müdürlüğü), under the command of Department of Public Security, to prevent armed acts of terrorist organizations residential area or in rural areas, to rescue hostages in places like aircraft, land vehicles, ships, subways, trains, and in enclosed spaces like buildings, to ensure the safety in cities and in civil aviation airports with special skills, modern weapons, ammunition, vehicles, equipment, tactics and techniques. In bigger cities like Ankara, İstanbul and İzmir "Special Operations Group Authorities "(Turkish: Özel Harekat Grup Amirlikleri) are organized in the same year. As a result of changing conditions, in 1987, office transrred to Anti-Terrorism and Operations Department under the name of "Special Action Branch" (Turkish: Özel Harekat Şubesi). In 1993, branch promoted to a department, and got its current structuring.
To qualify for PÖH, an applicant must:
- Run the 2500m designated area with a backpack weighing 10 kg, under 15 minutes
- Have 50% minimum accuracy in pistol and rifle shooting
- Swim 150 m without stopping
- Be between ages 18 and 32
- Be graduated from police high school or university
After 16 weeks of training, the applicant will get a certificate which officially names him as an operative of PÖH.
Unit uses automatic and special weapons and rapid deployment tactics for exceptional circumstances, such as bank robberies, kidnappings, hostage rescues, etc. The nature of the unit is quite like the American SWAT or the German GSG 9, mostly specialises in counter-terrorism (CT) operations against forces and able to take operations on many environments including buses and planes.
- Tuncay Özkan, Operasyon, Doğan Kitapçılık, 2000, p. 36.
- Joost Jongerden, The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds: An Analysis of Spatial Policies, Modernity and War, Brill, 2007, p. 70.
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