Law enforcement in Switzerland
Law enforcement in Switzerland is mainly a responsibility of the 26 cantons of Switzerland, who each operate cantonal police agencies. Some cities also operate municipal police agencies as provided for by cantonal law.
The federal government provides specialised services and is responsible for the protection of the Swiss border. Throughout Switzerland, the police may be reached by the emergency telephone number 1-1-7.
Law enforcement agencies
The federal government does not run a general purpose law enforcement agency. National-level law enforcement coordination is provided by a board of cantonal police commanders.
The Federal Office of Police, an organisation belonging to the Federal Department of Justice and Police, coordinates international operations and may request cantonal police support for criminal investigations conducted under federal jurisdiction (such as with respect to organised crime, money laundering and terrorism). The Office's investigative arm is the Federal Criminal Police, which operates a small special operations unit, Einsatzgruppe TIGRIS, whose existence was not made public until 2009.
The Federal Department of Finance is responsible for the Swiss Border Guard Corps. The military of Switzerland, led by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, operates a professional military security service and a military police service.
These services, as well as the armed forces in general, can be tasked to support the cantonal police forces in situations where civilian police resources are insufficient, such as catastrophes or large-scale unrest. In this case, the military serves under cantonal civilian responsibility and command.
The Swiss Federal Railways operates a railway police service through Securitrans, a joint venture with Securitas AG. Its agents are uniformed, armed with firearms as of 2012, and may detain troublemakers on the Swiss railway network.
The 26 cantonal police agencies and numerous municipal police agencies are the backbone of Swiss law enforcement. They are not subordinate to federal authorities. Their commanding officers report to the head of the respective cantonal or municipal department of police, who is a member of the cantonal or municipal governing council.
Police training is conducted in cantonal service academies and at the Interkantonale Polizeischule Hitzkirch, a joint police academy of twelve police agencies established in 2007.
Several private security services such as Securitas AG and Protectas exist in Switzerland. Their agents (except those of the railway police service as noted above) do not have any law enforcement authority, such as the power of arrest, beyond that of ordinary citizens.
Switzerland has 124 detention facilities with a total capacity of up to 6,736 detainees, all operated by the Swiss cantons. The smallest prison is the Untersuchungsgefängnis Trogen with a capacity of two detainees.
Notes and references
Media related to Police of Switzerland at Wikimedia Commons