South Australia Police

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South Australia Police
Coat of arms of the South Australia Police.svg
Logo of the South Australia Police
Flag of the South Australia Police.
Motto Keeping South Australia Safe
Agency overview
Formed 28 April, 1838
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of South Australia, Australia
Legal jurisdiction As per operations jurisdiction.
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 100 Angas Street,
Adelaide, SA 5000
34°55′36.07″S 138°36′3.25″E / 34.9266861°S 138.6009028°E / -34.9266861; 138.6009028
Sworn members 5000
Agency executive Gary Burns (2012-Present), Commissioner
Stations 131
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The South Australia Police (SAPOL) is the police force of the Australian state of South Australia. It is an agency of the Government of South Australia within the South Australian Department of Justice.


Formally established in 1838 under Henry Inman,[1] the force is the oldest in Australasia and it is the third oldest organised Police Service in the World. Unlike other Australian police forces, which originally employed soldiers or former convicts, the South Australia Police enlisted only volunteers. This occurred because South Australia was the only free colony on the continent.[1]


SAPOL's structure consists of various units. Through chain of command, all units are accountable to the Commissioner. Services are the largest units, and are headed by a sworn Assistant Commissioner, or for areas which are not policing specific, such as information technology, a civilian Director. Services are directly accountable to either the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner.[2][3]

Services are based on Local Service Areas (LSA) which provide operational policing services,[4] and Branches, which provide other specialised services or assistance.[5] These areas are further broken down into Sections. Larger sections may be divided into a number of Teams.

Local Service Areas[edit]

Local Service Areas are the main organisational unit to provide policing services to the public. A local service area contains a number of police stations, and specialist services to support frontline police such as Detectives, Crime Scene Investigators and Traffic police.[6]

Northern Operations Service[7] Southern Operations Service[8]
Barossa LSA Eastern Adelaide LSA
Elizabeth LSA Hills Fleurieu LSA
Eyre and Western LSA Limestone Coast LSA
Far North LSA Murray Mallee LSA
Holden Hill LSA South Coast LSA
Yorke Mid-North LSA Sturt LSA
Western Adelaide LSA


SAPOL VZ Commodore patrol car
Constables and Non-Commissioned Officers[9]
Constable First Class
Senior Constable
First Class
Sergeant Senior
Senior Sergeant
First Class
Sa-police-probationary-constable.png Sa-police-probationary-constable.png Sa-police-constable.png Sa-police-first-class-constable.png Sa-police-senior-constable.png Sa-police-brevet-sergeant.png Sa-police-sergeant.png Sa-police-senior-sergeant1.png Sa-police-senior-sergeant-first-class.png

All grades of Constable perform the same basic range of duties, with the rank only reflecting experience. The rank of Probationary Constable is held for the first fifteen months of service. A First Class Constable is qualified for promotion to Senior Constable. A Senior Constable First Class is either an officer qualified for promotion to Sergeant/Senior Sergeant or has won a Senior Constable First Class position on merit. A Brevet Sergeant is a temporary designation for an officer in a particular position which would require specialised skills, such as a Detective,

A Sergeant normally manages a team during a shift. A Sergeant may also manage a small country station. A Detective Sergeant is normally in charge of a team in an investigations section. As with a Sergeant, a Detective Sergeant may be the officer in charge of a country CIB unit. A Senior Sergeant is the officer in charge of a section, including traffic, criminal investigation, and operations (uniform). A Senior Sergeant traditionally does more administrative work than active patrol duties.

Officers wearing the old summer uniform, to be phased out from 2012
Officers of Police[9]
Inspector Chief
Superintendent Chief
Commander Assistant
Sa-police-inspector.png Sa-police-chief-inspector.png Sa-police-superintendent.png Sa-police-chief-superintendent.png Sa-police-commander.png Sa-police-assistant-commissioner.png Sa-police-deputy-commissioner.png Sa-police-commissioner.png

Officers of Police were formerly known as Commissioned Officers. This name was changed as SAPOL Officers no longer receive a Queen's Commission. Officers of Police act primarily as managers and generally do not partake in operational policing. An Inspector is in charge of a section. A Detective Inspector is normally in charge of the whole station CIB. A uniform Inspector is normally in charge of the station's operations.

A Chief Inspector commands a department at station level. A uniform Chief Inspector is in charge of all uniformed officers, regardless of their attachments to assigned areas (e.g. general duties, traffic duties etc.). Some country LSA's have Chief Inspectors as the Regional Commander. A Detective Chief Inspector is in charge of all CIB related matters.

Superintendents, Chief Superintendents and Commanders may be the manager of a Local Service Area or Branch, such as the Major Crime Branch. An LSA Commander is generally a Superintendent. A Chief Superintendent may be the manager of a specialised area, such as a Service Coordination Branch. Few Commanders are appointed. The Industrial Relations Branch has a Commander as its officer in charge.

An Assistant Commissioner is the manager of a Service, such as Northern Operations Service or Crime Service.

The Deputy Commissioner is the assistant to the Commissioner, who commands the force.

Uniform and equipment[edit]


SAPOL issues uniforms to sworn police officers. Police officers working in non-specialised areas generally wear standard uniform, which consists of a navy blue collared shirt with attached police badges and navy blue slacks. Short and long sleeve shirts are worn as preferred. Police officers wear white peaked cap and tie in winter. During summer officers wear an Akubra wide brimmed hat and are not required to wear a tie. Baseball caps are worn in specialist areas, including STAR Group, Crime Scene, State Traffic Enforcement Section, and by Operational Safety Trainers. Officers in northern country areas wear khaki uniforms instead blue.

In 2010 SAPOL started consultations on a new darker uniform reminiscent of those worn by officers of the NYPD. In 2012 SAPOL announced the new uniform would be introduced in mid October 2012 and would be rolled out over 18 months.[10] The only visible change from the consultation period was to the Peaked cap. The white peak was changed to the same dark blue as the shirt and pants, which is called ink blue.

Operational equipment[edit]

The standard issue SA Police firearms is the Smith & Wesson M&P in .40 S&W while CIB officers are issued with the compact version of that semi-automatic pistol.

Other equipment issued to officers are OC spray, ASP Extendable Baton and Hiatts handcuffs. Special Tasks and Rescue (STAR Group) officers have also been issued with the Smith & Wesson M&P.

Specialised units such as STAR Group use other equipment suited to the nature of their duties.

SA Police were among the last to carry revolvers as a duty weapon. They carried Smith & Wesson Model 66 (a variant of the Model 19) revolvers in .357 Magnum until the switch to the Smith & Wesson M&P semi automatic. Victoria also later replaced their .38 special S&W Model 10 revolvers with the Smith & Wesson M&P .40 in 2010.


Standard equipment in a patrol vehicle

SAPOL officers use a number of vehicles in day-to-day duties. The primary vehicle used by patrol members are modified Holden Commodore. Also used are Ford, Toyota Hilux and Holden Colorado caged vehicles for prisoner transport. In remote country areas, Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carriers are used as primary patrol vehicles. Patrol cars are used in both marked and unmarked variants, with the latter being a bit more extensive in its vehicle composition. SAPOL have also, in previous years, used high performance vehicles such as Holden's SS Commodore for traffic operations, However, in recent years they have only maintained a fleet of distinctly marked Holden Omegas to perform traffic duties.

Members of the State Traffic Enforcement Section ride marked and unmarked Honda and BMW motorcycles for traffic, escort, and other duties.

SAPOL have the use of several Police Operations Vehicles which are used in a wide variety of ways, for example, as a mobile police station/unit at a large public function, or as forward command posts at search and rescues, or other incidents such as siege or hostage situations. The Special Tasks and Rescue Group (STAR Group) also possess a Lenco BearCat armoured vehicle available for use in siege or terrorist situations.[11]

The SAPOL Water Operations Unit uses a number of watercraft to police coastal and inland waterways. Members of STAR Group and Transit Services Branch act as crew members on a Eurocopter EC130 helicopter operated by the Motor Accident Commission Rescue Helicopter Service.[12] Officers also crew other helicopters operated by the MAC Rescue Helicopter Service dependent on the mission. Helicopters are multi-role and are used for search and rescue operations, crime prevention and police pursuits.[12]

For ceremonial activities, crowd control and patrol duties, the SAPOL Mounted Operations Unit use grey horses. They are bred and trained at the Thebarton Police Barracks, just outside the central business district of Adelaide. These Police 'Greys' as they are known, are ideal for Police work as the light grey tones make the horse highly visible at night. They are also highly recognisable in the community and are often involved in community events such as leading the annual Adelaide Christmas Pageant and ANZAC day parade.[13]


Recruit training is conducted at Fort Largs Police Academy located in the western Adelaide suburb of Taperoo. Cadets undergo a 29 week course, called the 'Constable Development Program' (CDP).[14] The CDP is broken down into 5 phases, which includes training at the Police Academy and field experience at metropolitan LSAs.[14] Police cadets learn law, about investigations and police procedures. During recruit training, non-officers(police staff and volunteers) assist with various duties, such as cadet assessment, role playing and general administration. Cadets also undertake operational safety training, including self-defence and the use of firearms. Practical role-playing and assessments are part of the course.[14] Training with police dogs and police horses is offered at the Police Barracks at Thebarton.

Cadets graduate with the rank of Probationary Constable and are subject to a 15 month period of on the job training.[15] Probationary Constables are required to work with a Field Tutor for the first 6 months of the probationary period whilst they complete a Personal Learning Portfolio.[15] Probationary Constables also undertake a range of duties to enhance their learning, including traffic, prisoner management, and general duties. For the following 6 months, probationary constables continue to collect evidence of their workplace competency before attended the Probationary Constable Assessment Workshop to determine whether they are suitable to progress to the rank of Constable.[15] Upon completion of the probationary period, officers receive a Diploma of Public Safety (Policing) and are appointed to the rank of Constable.[15]

Training is ongoing and further courses are available for officers to attend, should they wish to progress their policing career further.

SAPOL Protective Security Officers also undergo training at this location. The duration of this training course is only 12 weeks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "South Australia Police Historical Society". South Australia Police Historical Society. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "South Australia Police - Structure". South Australia Police. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "South Australia Police - Services Structure". South Australia Police. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "South Australia Police - Southern Operations Service". South Australia Police. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "South Australia Police - Crime Service". South Australia Police. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "Eastern Adelaide LSA". South Australia Police. Retrieved 10 June 2011. "The LSA provides a range of services including Operations, Traffic, CIB, Intelligence and Crime Prevention." 
  7. ^ "Northern Operations Service". South Australia Police. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Southern Operations Service". South Australia Police. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "South Australia Police - Rank Insignia". The International Encyclopedia of Uniform Insignia Around the World. Retrieved 30 December 2007. 
  10. ^ "South Australian police uniform gets an update". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5/10/2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ "SAPOL's latest security weapon". SA Police News. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "MAC Rescue Helicopter". Motor Accident Commission of SA. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "Special Tasks and Rescue Group". South Australia Police. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c "Achieve More". South Australia Police Recruiting Section. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Achieve More". South Australia Police Recruiting Section. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 

External links[edit]