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Federal Police
Common name Federal Police
Abbreviation BPOL
Logo of the BPOL (since 2005)
Agency overview
Formed 2005, July 1
Preceding agency Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS) (Federal Border Guard)
Employees 40,000
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Germany
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters BPOL-Präsidium, Potsdam
Police Officers 30,000
Civilians 10,000
Stations 67
Helicopters 132
Website (German)

The Bundespolizei (BPOL) is the (primarily) uniformed federal police force of Germany. It is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern (BMI)) [1]. Ordinary police forces (which are much more sizable in combined numbers) fall under the administration of the individual German states (Bundesländer) and are known as the Landespolizei.

The Bundespolizei was previously known as the Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS) ("Federal Border Guard") and had a more restricted role until July 1, 2005 when the law renaming the BGS as the BPOL was enacted. Prior to 1994 BPOL members also had military combatant status due to their historical foundation and border guard role.



The BPOL has the following missions:

The Bundespolizei can also be used to reinforce state police if requested to do so by a state (Land) government. The BPOL maintains these reserve forces to deal with major demonstrations, disturbances or emergencies to supplement the capabilities of the State Operational Support Units. Several highly trained detachments are available for crisis situations requiring armored cars, water cannon or other special equipment.

The BPOL has investigators who conducts criminal investigations only within its jurisdiction; otherwise the cases are referred to the appropriate state police force or to the federal criminal investigative agency, the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA).

In addition, the Bundespolizei cooperates closely with German state executive authorities such as the Prosecutor's Offices called Staatsanwaltschaft in pursuing criminal investigations.


The Bundespolizei consists of around 40,000 personnel,

  • 30,000 are fully trained police officers.
    • 21,000 provide border, railway and aviation security,
    • 6,000 serve in the Alert Police
    • 3,000 serve in the following special units:
      • the Central Office for Communications and Information,
      • GSG 9 and
      • the Aviation Wing,
  • 10,000 salaried civilian (unarmed) support personnel,
    • 6,800 civil servants who perform administrative and support services
    • 2,000 Immigration inspectors (called the Individual Service) who perform operational duty handling border protection and immigration matters and flight passenger checks.


Bundesgrenzschutz patch (1952 to 1976)

The BPOL national headquarters (BPOL-Präsidium) is in Potsdam performing all central control functions. Eight regional headquarters (BPOL-Direktion) control the BPOL stations conducting rail police and border protection missions. These areas of responsibility conform to the federal state boundaries which they did not do prior to 1 March 2008.

The regional headquarters are as follows:

These regional headquarters each have an investigation department and a mobile inspection and observation unit. Moreover, they control the 67 BPOL stations (BPOL-Inspektion) which in turn control the Bundespolizeireviere or precincts located in places that require a 24-hour presence by BPOL officers.

A special Direktion is responsible for Frankfurt International Airport.

The central school for advanced and vocational training is in Lübeck and controls the five basic training schools in Swisttal, Neustrelitz, Oerlenbach, Walsrode and Eschwege. It is also in charge of the Federal Police Sport School in Bad Endorf and a competitive sport project in Cottbus. The sport school specialises in winter sport events and has trained many of Germany's top skiers and skaters such as Claudia Pechstein.

The Zentrale Direktion Bundesbereitschaftspolizei controls the mobile support and rapid reaction battalions located in Bayreuth, Deggendorf, Blumberg (near Berlin), Hünfeld, Uelzen, Duderstadt, Sankt Augustin, Bad Bergzabern, Bad Düben and Ratzeburg. The number of Bereitschaftspolizei companies increased in March 2008 from 28 to 29 comprising approx. 25 percent of Germany’s police support units.[2]


BPOL Special Units

The following special units also exist:

German Federal Police cutter BP21 Bredstedt
  • The BPOL Aviation Group is directly subordinate to the BPOL HQ in Potsdam. It controls the five aviation squadrons around the country that operate the force's helicopters. These are located in Fuhlendorf (north, with satellite airfield in Gifhorn), Blumberg (east), Fuldatal (centre), Oberschleissheim (south) and Sankt Augustin (west). Its duties include; border surveillance, monitoring installations belonging to German Rail, helping in serious accidents and disasters in Germany and abroad, searching for missing persons, searching for criminals on the run, supporting the police forces of the federal states, providing transportation for persons whose security is endangered, providing transportation for guests of the Federal government, supporting federal and state authorities, and providing air search and rescue services in coordination with the 12 air rescue centers throughout Germany.
  • The BPOL Information and Communications Center is now a department of the BPOL HQ in Potsdam.


BGS canteen made in 1957
BGS Cap, in use until 1976

In 1951 the German government established a Federal Border Protection Force (Bundesgrenzschutz or BGS) composed of 10,000 men under the Federal Interior Ministry’s jurisdiction. The force replaced allied military organisations such as the U.S. Constabulary then patrolling Germany’s international borders. The BGS was described as a mobile, lightly-armed police force for border and internal security despite fears that it would be the nucleus of a new West German army. When West Germany did raise an army, BGS personnel were given the choice of staying in the BGS or joining the army. Most decided to join the army.

In 1953, the BGS took control of the German Passport Control Service. In 1976, the state police grades replaced the military rank structure and BGS training was modified to closely match that of the state police forces (Landespolizei). The West German Railway Police (Bahnpolizei), formerly an independent force, and the East German Transportpolizei were restructured under the BGS in 1990. In July 2005, the BGS was renamed the Bundespolizei or BPOL (Federal Police) to reflect its transition to a multi-faceted federal police agency. The change also involved the shift to blue uniforms and livery for vehicles and helicopters. The German Interior Ministry reviewed the structure of the BPOL in 2007 and in March 2008 made the structure leaner to get more officers out of offices and onto patrol.


BMW standard patrol car
A Bundespolizei van with the new colour scheme and old license plates

Bundespolizei vehicles have license plates that are based on the BP XX-YYY system. BP stands for Bundespolizei. Older vehicles may still have the BGS "BG" plates.

XX is a number from 10 to 55 indicating the type of vehicle:

  • 10 to 12: Motorcycle
  • 15 to 19: Car
  • 20 to 24: Four wheel drive car
  • 25 to 29: Car
  • 30 to 39: Medium four wheel drive vehicle
  • 40 to 49: Trucks and buses
  • 50 to 54: Armoured cars.
  • 55: Trailers

YYY is a combination of up to three numbers.

The Bundespolizei have favoured, and in some cases still favour (where the model is still in production), the following types of car:

Aircraft inventory

A Eurocopter EC-135 of the Bundespolizei in the new livery
A Eurocopter EC-155 of the Bundespolizei (note: all Bundespolizei helicopters are to be repainted blue in the near future)
Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Aérospatiale Alouette II  France training and utility helicopter SA 318C 10 will now be replaced with Eurocopter EC-135 and Eurocopter EC-120
Aérospatiale Puma  France transport helicopter SA 330 22 will partly be replaced by Eurocopter Super Puma
Eurocopter EC-120  European Union training helicopter EC 120 6
Bell 212  United States rescue- / transport helicopter Bell 212 2 / 8 will now be replaced by Eurocopter EC-135 and EC-155
MBB Bo 105  Germany rescue helicopter Bo 105CBS 14 will now be replaced by Eurocopter EC-135T2i
Eurocopter Super Puma  European Union transport helicopter AS 332 L1 13
Eurocopter EC 135  European Union utility helicopter EC 135 42 [3]
Eurocopter EC 155  European Union transport helicopter EC 155 B 15 [4]


Pro Asyl

German human rights organizations such as "Pro Asyl" have repeatedly criticized the Bundespolizei for its alleged heavy-handed approach in the deportation of asylum seekers which, in the case of Sudanese refugee Amir Ageeb, resulted in his death onboard a Lufthansa aircraft. For more information see Human rights in Germany.

Amnesty International

Moreover, the German police have been accused of ill treating scores of mainly foreign citizens and using disproportionate violence against those they detained in a report published by the human rights organization Amnesty International. The 77-page report, entitled "Back in the spotlight - allegations of police ill-treatment and excessive use of force in Germany", highlighted 20 cases of police brutality investigated by the organization over the past two years.

The report cited at least 12 cases of detainees being punched, kicked and racially abused by police, one incident in which a man died in hospital as a result of a beating sustained in custody, and several cases of unarmed individuals being shot dead by police.

Barbara Lochbihler, the general secretary of Amnesty's German branch, said: "The 20 cases were those specifically investigated, but there were many other incidents drawn to our attention. A significant proportion of allegations have continued to come from foreign nationals and members of ethnic minorities in Germany."

Amnesty singled out Germany for failing to set up an independent complaints body to monitor cases of police violence. It criticized the country's legal authorities for habitually investigating such incidents in a "reluctant and at times partisan" fashion, and noted that the standard reaction of police to complaints against them was to bring legal action against the complainant.

"The seriousness of certain reports combined with the severity of the injuries sustained indicate that the German authorities must redouble their efforts in this area and undertake all possible steps to prevent and penalize such occurrences," the report said.

The most serious incidents of police brutality contained in the document included the case of a 30-year-old Sudanese asylum-seeker who suffocated on an aircraft during an attempt to expel him from Germany. The man is thought have died as a result of restraints placed on him, including "adhesive tape, a helmet and a five-meter long rope". The report cited a statement by border police which warned that tough measures used to restrain African asylum-seekers could prove ineffective "because African citizens display a marked insensitivity to pain".

In another well-documented case, a 31-year-old mentally ill German man died after being repeatedly kicked by a "reception committee" of six police officers while lying handcuffed on the floor of a Cologne police station. He had been arrested after a noisy argument with his mother.

The document also cited incidents in which police used unprovoked violence and racist abuse against foreigners. In one case a Turkish taxi driver was arrested, beaten and flung handcuffed against the wall of a cell by his hair for illegally parking his taxi next to a hot dog stand in Frankfurt.

In another case, police shot dead a 30-year-old German in the back with "man-stopping" ammunition after he bent down to pick up a cobblestone which he apparently intended to throw at an officer.

Amnesty noted that in all but one of the 20 incidents contained in its report, none of the police officers concerned had been sentenced by the courts for their actions. Ms Lochbihler said: "We do not know the full extent of police brutality, because the German authorities do not keep a full record of the statistics. We consider this to be a scandal."

See also


External links


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