Police commissioner

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Police commissioner (also known as the commissioner of police) is a senior rank in many police forces of the world.

Rank insignia of police commissioner[edit]

Duties and functions[edit]

Police commissioners may be experienced police officers, though some are politically appointed, or elected,[1] and may not actually be sworn police officers.[2][3][4] In such cases, usually a professional chief of police is in charge of day-to-day operations. In either event, commissioners are the designated heads of the organizations.[5]

In police services of the UK, Commonwealth and United States, the title of commissioner may designate the head of an entire police force, or a member of an oversight board of police commissioners.[6][7][8]

In France, Italy, Spain, and some Latin American countries, "commissioner" denotes the head of a single police station (analogous to a superintendent in UK and Commonwealth countries).[9][10]

Police commissioner by country[edit]


The Australian Federal Police and the autonomous Australian state and territory police forces are each presided over by a commissioner, who is accountable to constituents through a minister of state. The state of Victoria at one time (during the 19th-century Gold Rush) appointed commissioners for both the metropolitan area and the goldfields. Outranking both was a "chief commissioner"—a title that has survived the disappearance of the earlier junior commissioners. In Victoria, as elsewhere, the second-highest rank is deputy commissioner.[11]

The insignia of rank worn by a commissioner in the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police Force is a crown over a star and crossed and wreathed tipstaves, similar to the insignia of a military full general. In all other civilian forces, the insignia is a crown over crossed and wreathed tipstaves, similar to the insignia of a military lieutenant-general.[12]


In Canada, the highest-ranking officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and of the Ontario Provincial Police holds the rank of commissioner.[13][14] In the province of Alberta, the Police Act requires the municipality to appoint police commissioners that are required to provide public oversight of the police. In Alberta's capital city, Edmonton, there are nine commissioners, including two city councillors and seven city-appointed members, the object being to "provide civilian oversight for the police service".[15] The commissioners appoint and oversee a chief of police, to whom is delegated the day-to-day management of the force.[16]


In reference to the police of France and other French-speaking countries, the rank of commissaire is a rank equating to somewhere in between the British police ranks of superintendent and chief superintendent.[17] The rank above is called "divisional commissioner". This is sometimes equated to a chief superintendent, but can in some cases hold a similar function to a Deputy Chief Constable. A former intermediate rank of "principal commissioner" was abolished in 2006.


The second-highest career bracket in German law enforcement leads to the rank of police commissioner or Kommissar. Training encompasses 3 years in a police academy (graduating as Diplom-Verwaltungswirt or bachelor of public administration). The highest possible rank within this career bracket is that of Erster Polizeihauptkommissar or Erster Kriminalhauptkommissar. The work of a Kommissar, in general, centers on investigation of felonies, depending on the branch of police and department to which he belongs, similar to the equivalent of an inspector in British-styled police forces. Roughly equivalent to a British commissioner would be (Landes-) Polizeipräsident or Inspekteur der Polizei, titles that differ between police forces in Germany.[18]

Hong Kong[edit]

The head of the Hong Kong Police (Royal Hong Kong Police Force 1969 to 30 June 1997) force has used this title since 1938.[19][20]


The National Police of Iceland employs a national commissioner (Icelandic: Ríkislögreglustjóri) (four-star-rank) that is the head of 15 districts across Iceland. The commissioner is not an experienced police officer whatsoever, like most police chiefs in Iceland are educated lawyers, not experienced police officers.[21]

Of the 15 districts in the Icelandic police, each has a police chief of its own, but the national commissioner is above them, the minister of interior Ólöf Nordal is in charge of law enforcement in Iceland.[22]


The garda commissioner is the officer overseeing the Garda Síochána, the national police force.[23]


Police Commissioner of Pune, India, in 2010: Her insignia indicates her rank of Director General of Police or Additional Director General of Police.

In India, the commissioner of police designation is held by different ranks of Indian Police Service officers at different places. For example, it is held by a Director General of Police in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Chennai; by an Additional Director General of Police rank officer in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Visakhapatnam, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Gautam Budh Nagar, and Surat; by Inspector General of Police officer in Gurgaon, Pune, Nashik, Coimbatore, Madurai, Thane, Howrah, Siliguri, Trivandrum, and Kochi; and by Deputy Inspector General of Police officer in Bidhannagar and Kozhikode.


In the Indonesian National Police, the four levels of commissioner are police chief commissioner (komisaris besar polisi), police deputy chief commissioner (ajun komisaris besar polisi), police commissioner (komisaris polisi), and police deputy commissioner (ajun komisaris polisi). Due to strong military influence in its history, even now, police ranks can be compared to the ranks of the Indonesian military. The four commissioner ranks are equivalent to the Indonesian military ranks of colonel, lieutenant colonel, major, and captain, respectively.[24]


In the Italian Police, a commissioner (commissario) is the superintendent of a commissariato, a police station/detachment that can either serve an entire township of small or medium dimensions, or a limited area in a metropolitan city.[25]


In the Royal Malaysia Police, states of Sabah and Sarawak contingent are led by police commissioner than rest of the states in Malaysia, a special status for two states.[26]


In The Malta Police Force, the commissioner of police is the head of the police department, responsible for its entire management and control.[27] Since 2016, a chief executive officer at the Malta Police Force was appointed, to work alongside the commissioner of police to implement the Police Force Vision.[28]


In the Republic of Mauritius, the commissioner of police is the head of the national law enforcement agency called the Mauritius Police Force (MPF), which is responsible for policing on mainland Mauritius, Rodrigues, and other outer islands. The position dates back to 1767, when Antoine Codère was the first commissioner of police.[29] The commissioner operates under the aegis of the Home Affairs Division of the prime minister's office and the MPF employs around 12,500 police officers, who are posted at the eight divisions and 14 branches.[30]


The first chief commissioner is the head of the National Police Corps. The commissioner is appointed by the Crown, and report to the minister of Justice and Security. The commissioner is the highest-ranking sworn police member in the country.[31]

New Zealand[edit]

The commissioner of police is the head of the New Zealand Police. The commissioner is appointed for a three-year term by the governor-general, and reports to the minister of police.[32] The position combines two functions, that of chief constable in charge of policing and cases, and chief executive responsible for assets and budgeting.[33] In military terms, the rank is equivalent to Lieutenant General.[34]

The Police Force Act 1886 split the police from the standing army and militia on 1 September 1886. Sir George Whitmore was appointed as the first commissioner, reporting to the minister of defence.[35] Early commissioners came from the United Kingdom with military or law-enforcement experience, such as Walter Dinnie, who had served as inspector at Scotland Yard.

In 2006, the commissioner was the highest-paid person on the public payroll in New Zealand, earning $440,000.[36]


In Nigeria, a commissioner of police is the head of an entire state branch of the Nigeria Police Force.[37]


In Poland, a commissioner (komisarz) is a relatively low rank, directly above podkomisarz and below nadkomisarz, comparable to a lieutenant of the armed forces.[38]


Historically, in the Civil Police of Portugal, a police commissioner (Portuguese: comissário) was a divisional commander in the Lisbon and Oporto police forces or the chief of a district police force in the other districts of the country. The chief of each of the Lisbon and Oporto police forces had the title of commissioner general (comissário-geral). With the reorganization of Civil Police and its transformation in the Public Security Police (PSP) in the 1930s, commissioner became a police rank in this force.[39]

Presently, commissioner is an officer rank in the PSP, roughly equivalent to the military rank of captain. It is above the rank of subcommissioner and below that of superintendent. Commissioners usually have the role of second-in-command of PSP divisions commanded by subintendents.

The rank insignia of a commissioner consists in a dark blue epaulet with three PSP stars (silver six points stars with the "SP" monogram in the center).


In the Romanian Police, similarly to the French Police (see commissaire de police), the rank of commissioner (comisar) is equivalent to the British police rank of superintendent.[40]


In Spain, a National Police commissioner is the chief of a police station. This rank is called comisario principal. A commissioner exists in the biggest cities,and in smaller cities, the chief of the police is headed by a superintendent. In the Civil Guard, this rank does not exist because it has a military organization.

United Kingdom[edit]

In England and Wales, outside of Greater London, police and crime commissioners are directly elected officials charged with securing efficient and effective policing of their police area. They are not warranted police officers, although they appoint and hold to account their chief constable. The first police and crime commissioners were elected in November 2012, with the lowest electorate turnout ever in England and Wales. Historically the title "commissioner" has denoted the professional chief police officer of certain police forces, and that is still the case within Greater London, with the Commissioner of the City of London Police and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Both these commissioners are appointed, not elected, and since the 1950s have been career police officers (as opposed to the previous practice of appointing former British Army officers). Although they were technically justices of the peace until the 1970s,[41] the commissioners have always worn a similar uniform to police officers, and have been treated similarly in terms of pay and terms of service.[42]

United States[edit]

Some U.S. police agencies use the title "commissioner" for the head of a police department or state agency. The term may refer to:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://detroitmi.gov/government/boards/board-police-commissioners
  2. ^ https://www.stlouiscountypolice.com/Who-We-Are/Board-of-Police-Commissioners
  3. ^ https://www.kcpd.org/about/board-of-police-commissioners/
  4. ^ https://www.lapdonline.org/police_commission/content_basic_view/900
  5. ^ https://guides.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/nypd/Commissioners
  6. ^ https://ecode360.com/15586708
  7. ^ https://www.gov.uk/police-and-crime-commissioners
  8. ^ https://www.nacole.org/
  9. ^ https://www.interpol.int/en/Who-we-are/Member-countries/Europe/FRANCE
  10. ^ https://www.enp.eu/countries/spain/
  11. ^ https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/reece-kershaw-be-sworn-afp-commissioner
  12. ^ https://www.afp.gov.au/about-us/our-organisation/customs-and-traditions/afp-shoulder-patch-and-rank-insignia
  13. ^ https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/rcmp-executive
  14. ^ https://www.cacp.ca/index.html?asst_id=1781
  15. ^ Bylaw 14040: Edmonton Police Commission Bylaw Archived 2013-09-28 at the Wayback Machine at Edmonton Police Commission
  16. ^ Appointment of the Chief of Police Archived 2013-09-28 at the Wayback Machine at Edmonton Police Commission
  17. ^ https://www.cidj.com/metiers/commissaire-de-police
  18. ^ https://saint-claire.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/UK-German-Rank-Comparison.pdf
  19. ^ "China's State Council Appoints New Police Chief in Hong Kong". New York Times. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  20. ^ https://www.police.gov.hk/offbeat/772/eng/f04.htm
  21. ^ https://www.logreglan.is/english/
  22. ^ https://www.logreglan.is/english/
  23. ^ https://www.garda.ie/en/about-us/our-departments/offices-of-the-commissioner-deputy-commissioners-and-cao/#:~:text=Office%20of%20the%20Garda%20Commissioner,the%20activities%20of%20the%20Service.
  24. ^ https://jhuliplanejados.com.br/forum/commissioner-police-8b2a76
  25. ^ https://www.hierarchystructure.com/italian-police-hierarchy/
  26. ^ https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/08/28/sarawak-police-will-assist-in-sabah-state-elections-if-required-says-bukit/1898158
  27. ^ "Commissioner of Police". pulizija.gov.mt. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  28. ^ "Position Of Chief Executive Officer At The Malta Police Force In The Ministry For Home Affairs And National Security". homeaffairs.gov.mt. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  29. ^ "History of MPF". Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  30. ^ "Distribution of MPF". Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  31. ^ https://www.government.nl/topics/police/organisation-of-the-dutch-police
  32. ^ "About us - Structure". New Zealand Police. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  33. ^ "Govt appoints new Police Commissioner". The New Zealand Herald. 30 November 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  34. ^ "Insignia of rank". New Zealand Police. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  35. ^ (Hill 1995, p. 7)
  36. ^ Thomson, Ainsley (5 April 2006). "Policeman on mission to restore confidence". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  37. ^ https://fas.org/irp/world/nigeria/npf.htm
  38. ^ https://jhuliplanejados.com.br/forum/commissioner-police-8b2a76
  39. ^ https://polis.osce.org/country-profiles/portugal
  40. ^ https://www.europol.europa.eu/partners-agreements/member-states/romania
  41. ^ The Metropolitan Commissioner ceased to be a justice on 1 April 1974 (see section 20 (commencement)) by virtue of section 1(9)(a) of the Administration of Justice Act 1973 (as in para 10, Schedule 1 to the Act), and the City Commissioner ceased to be a justice before 1973 by Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Justices of the Peace Act 1968.
  42. ^ https://www.apccs.police.uk/role-of-the-pcc/
  43. ^ "Board of Police Commissioners | Boards | City of Detroit MI". www.detroitmi.gov. Retrieved 2015-12-31.