Icelandic Police

Infobox Military Unit

caption=Official Lögreglan insignia
country= Iceland
type= Police
dates= 1778 - Present
specialization= Law Enforcement
size= about 800 officers
current_commander= Haraldur Jóhannessen
nickname= Löggan
The Icelandic National Police ( _is. Ríkislögreglan) is responsible for Law enforcement on all Icelandic territories 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 Alþingi and later by "sýslumenn" (sheriffs) and other Royal proxies.

The first Icelandic policemen are considered to be the morningstar armed nightwatchmen of Reykjavík who were commissioned primarily to deter prisoners, housed in the Reykjavik prison, from breaking into the Innréttingarnar.

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.

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 decicions 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.

In 1939 prime minister Hermann Jónasson hired Agnar Kofoed-Hansen as police chief. Agnar had received officer training in the Danish army and proceeded to give the police military training. Considerable amounts of weapons were purchased from abroad as well, including revolvers and sub-machine guns. It was also planned to train the police reserves and thus create some sort of military defence forces, but this was cut short when the United Kingdom invaded Iceland in 1940.

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.

The motto of the Icelandic Police is "með lögum skal land byggja" which means "with law, [one] shall build land".

thumb|Björn_Árnason,_the_first_policeman_on_Ísafjörður (1895).]

Current organization

The Icelandic Police is under the surpreme command of the Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical affairs and the National Commissioner ("Ríkislögreglustjórinn") administers the police under authorization of the Minister.

The National Commissioner, headquartered in Reykjavík, maintains inquisitorial divisions, such as the National Security Unit, as well as the tactical operations unit "Víkingasveitin" nominally deployed in the Capital area, Suðurnes and Akureyri. The police is further divided into 15 regions of various sizes and responsibilities. The regions follow the old county boundaries or "sýslumörk".
*Höfuðborgarsvæðið - Capital area police forces
*Suðurnes - Responsible for Keflavík International Airport


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 pants) to tactical overalls. The old traditional Icelandic service uniform is now used as a dress uniform.( [ Uniforms overview] ).

The National Commissioner

The office of the National Commissioner, or "Ríkislögreglustjórinn" in Icelandic, was put into service in 1997, when the Police Act from 1987, which stipulated its creation, came into effect. The State Criminal Investigative Police was abolished and its duties transferred to the National Commissioner and local police departments.


Although Icelandic policemen carry only extendable batons and MK-4 OC-spray (pepper spray) while on duty, they are trained in the use of firearms. The police at Keflavík International Airport are an exception, as police academy graduates carry firearms at all times, although temporarily employed officers do not. The standard sidearm is the Glock 17, but some officers purchase guns of different types. Competition shooting with handguns is common within the Icelandic Police.In addition to the above, they have in the police vehicles longer batons, full riot gear and spikestrips, for example.

The Special Operations Unit of the National Commissioner deployed in situations requiring greater skill or firepower than the general police officers have available.

List of small arms used by the Icelandic Police

*Flagicon|GER Heckler & Koch MP5 Submachine gun
*Flagicon|GER Heckler & Koch G36 Assault rifle
*Flagicon|AUT Glock 17 pistol
*Flagicon|AUT Steyr SSG 69 sniper rifle
*Flagicon|GER Blaser R93-7.62×51 NATO sniper rifle
*Flagicon|USA Mossberg 500 shotgun
*Flagicon|NOR Krag-Jørgensen Bolt action repeating rifle (reserve)
*Flagicon|German Empire Mauser C96 Semi-automatic pistol (reserve)
*Flagicon|USA Royal 7.65 mm pistol (reserve)
*Flagicon|USA Reising cal 45. Submachine gun (reserve)


In Iceland police vehicles are white with blue-lettered marking "Lögreglan" which is Icelandic for 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 seem to have been at least sometimes all red in the past.

List of vehicle types used by the Icelandic Police

*Flagicon|GER Opel Vectra
*Flagicon|GER Opel Omega
*Flagicon|GER Volkswagen Caddy
*Flagicon|GER Volkswagen Transporter
*Flagicon|GER Volkswagen Passat
*Flagicon|GER Ford Focus
*Flagicon|GER Ford Mondeo
*Flagicon|UK Land Rover
*Flagicon|JPN Toyota Land Cruiser
*Flagicon|JPN Isuzu Trooper
*Flagicon|JPN Nissan Patrol
*Flagicon|JPN Subaru Legacy
*Flagicon|Republic of Korea Hyundai Santa Fe
*Flagicon|SWE Volvo XC70
*Flagicon|SWE Volvo S80
*Flagicon|USA Ford E-Series

The Icelandic Intelligence Service

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 came into light, after having been known to only a handful of men for more than 60 years, when historians were granted limited access to secret documents.

Currently the National Commissioners operates a "greiningardeild" which goes by the name Icelandic Intelligence Service (IIS).


* []
* [ History of the police of Iceland]

See also

* Military of Iceland


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