National Police of Iceland
|Icelandic National Police
|Motto||Með lögum skal land byggja.|
|A country shall be built by law.|
|Employees||ca. 805 (2011)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Governing body||Icelandic government|
|Elected officer responsible||Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Minister of the Interior|
|Agency executive||Haraldur Jóhannessen, National Commissioner|
|Police cars and motorcycles||ca. 300+ (2012)|
The Icelandic National Police (Icelandic: Ríkislögreglan) is the main police force of Iceland. It is responsible for law enforcement on all Icelandic territory except at sea where the Icelandic Coast Guard enforces the law. The two services assist each other as needed.
The Icelandic Police can trace its origins to 1778, when the first traces of industry started to appear. In the times before that law had been enforced by individuals as allowed by the Althing and later by sýslumenn (sheriffs) and other Royal proxies. 1
The first Icelandic policemen are considered to be the morningstar armed night-watchmen of Reykjavík who were commissioned primarily to deter prisoners, housed in the Reykjavik prison, from breaking into the Innréttingarnar. 2
In 1803 the first proper policemen were commissioned in Reykjavík as it became a free town or kaupstaður. 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. 3
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 Reykjavik 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. 4
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 Greater Reykjavík Area. 5 National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police was formed in 1997 and State Criminal Investigation Police was decommissioned.6
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 Reykjavik suburb. 7 Initially tear gas was used in an attempt to subdue the gunman,8 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, 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" 9 The shooter's motives were not immediately clear, though some neighbours reported the gunman was making threats towards them. 10 An investigation into this incident was launched, and the guns involved on all sides were seized. Counseling is being offered to the officers involved. 11
|2||Deputy National Commissioner||Vararíkislögreglustjóri|
|Director of the Police College||Skólastjóri Lögregluskóla ríkisins|
|3||Deputy Commissioner||Varalögreglustjóri í Reykjavík|
|4||Chief Superintendent/Detective Chief Superintendent||Yfirlögregluþjónn|
|Detective Chief Inspector||Lögreglufulltrúi|
|8||Brevet Inspector||Staðgengill Varðstjóra|
|Temporarily Employed Policeman||Afleysingamaður í lögreglu|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2013)|
The Icelandic police wears black uniforms marked with traditional black and white checked markings and the Icelandic police morning 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.
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.13Competition shooting with handguns is common within the police. Some of the patrol vehicles are equipped with firearms, longer batons, riot shields and spike strips.
- Heckler & Koch MP5 Submachine gun
- Heckler & Koch G36 Assault rifle
- Glock 17 pistol
- Steyr SSG 69 sniper rifle
- Blaser R93–7.62×51 NATO sniper rifle
- Mossberg 500 shotgun
In Iceland police vehicles are white with blue-lettered marking "Lögreglan" which is Icelandic for the Police. The cars also have blue and red stripes with the Icelandic police star overlaying the stripes on the front doors. Until few years ago the red stripe was thinner and was black, probably what was left of the time when the whole bottom half of the police cars were black, and that probably what was left of the time when the police cars were all black. In recent times blue and yellow angular stripes on the sides of the cars have also been applied. All markings are of reflective material. Today the emergency lights are all blue, but in the past they were all red.
The National Police Commissioner owns all of the vehicles that are being used by the police districts around the country. The police districts then rent them from the National Police Commissioner. 14 Víkingasveitin uses the Volvo XC90 and Volvo XC70 as well as other unmarked vehicles that have been modified for tactical operations.
- Volkswagen Passat
- Ford Focus
- Ford Mondeo
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Nissan Patrol
- Subaru Legacy
- Subaru Forester
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Chevrolet Captiva
- Volvo XC70
- Volvo XC90
- Volvo S80
- Ford E-Series
- Škoda Superb
- Škoda Octavia
The Icelandic Police is under the supreme command of the Minister of the Interior and the National Police Commissioner (Ríkislögreglustjórinn) administers the police under authorization of the Minister. 15
The National Police Commissioner, with headquarters in Reykjavík, maintains inquisitorial divisions, such as the National Security Unit, as well as the independently operated tactical operations unit Víkingasveitin, and the Prison Service. The police is further divided into 15 districts of various sizes and responsibilities. The districts follow the old county boundaries or sýslumörk.
- Höfuðborgarsvæðið - Reykjavík metropolitan police
- Suðurnes - Responsible for Keflavík International Airport
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2013)|
At the orders of the Prime Minister Hermann Jónasson in 1939 the State Police and the Útlendingaeftirlitið (Foreigner monitoring agency) founded a Security department or eftirgrennslanadeild. This service was founded primarily to monitor Nazi German 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. 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.
Currently the National Commissioner's National Security Unit (Greiningardeild Ríkislögreglustjóra) handles internal intelligence activities.
- "The Icelandic Police: A Historic Sketch" (PDF). The National Commissioner of Police. April 2003. p. 6. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Historic Sketch, p. 9-10.
- Historic Sketch, p. 15.
- Historic Sketch, p. 24.
- Historic Sketch, p. 25.
- Historic Sketch, p. 32.
- "Police Ranks". 4 December 2013.
- "Icelandic Police and Justice System" (PDF). The National Commissioner of Police. September 2005. p. 10. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "The Office of The National Commissioner of Police: An Introduction" (PDF). The National Commissioner of Police. October 2004. p. 27. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Icelandic Police and Justice System, p. 6