The duty of police officers around the world is to uphold the security of the nation by combating crime and ensuring that others are complying to the federal, state, and local rules and laws. Some countries are more apt for violence and mayhem and therefore more prepared to deal with it—usually countries that are overrun with cartels and underworlds. These people put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of every citizen of their respective country, and we’d like to thank them all for their sacrifice and service.
There are many questions that must be asked when trying to decide what makes an elite police force. Who were they trained by? Usually other uber-elite units, and sometimes the army. Under what circumstances were they formed? Usually they were formed from the midst of some tragedy that a country was ill-prepared for. These incidents create some of the strongest, hardest-working police units in the world, where there’s no room for corruption or mistakes or lightheartedness.
There are also many things that go into making a tough, elite police unit: a selection process that chooses the best of the best. Rigorous mental, physical, and psychological training. Weapons and armor training. Endurance tests. The list goes on—no two police units are the same. But they all serve a similar purpose: to keep people safe, to serve their country with distinction and honor, and to make the world a better, safer place.
Here are 20 of the toughest police forces in the world.
INTERPOL is an international organization that helps facilitate local police departments at an international level. The force was established in 1923 and has a global membership in 192 countries. Every country is responsible for having its own NCB (National Central Bureau), which is managed by local law enforcement officers.
This forms a global network link with INTERPOL and allows countries to work in cross-border investigations. INTERPOL is a very useful organization and plays a very important role in capturing criminals who flee from one country to another. In order to do this, their officers must be very highly trained and immune to corruption, which makes them some of the toughest policemen and women in the world.
18 Netherlands National Police Agency
The structure of the Dutch police is very efficient in terms of strategic placement and positioned units. Their main unit is the Central Regional Police Services, and each of these units are commanded by a Dutch Commissioner. The Netherlands Minister of Justice maintains order and functioning of the troops and police force.
They have a prominent place on the Dutch streets, keeping them safe and helping make the Netherlands one of the least crime-ridden countries.
They are ranked 58th in terms of overall crime levels, though their total crimes per 1000 people statistic is actually quite high. The roving eyes of the Dutch Masters are always watching vigilantly, and because of the Netherlands’ low overall crime rate, their police force deserves a spot on this list.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are a reputable government agency that upholds the law to the highest extent of their abilities. Though people think of Australia as a place of peace and quiet, there is actually quite an infestation of criminal activities surrounding the streets and controlled by corrupt businessmen, peddlers, and more.
With regards to developed countries, their narcotics problem has increased over the years, which means the AFP has had to step up. Due to their stringent principles and integrity, as well as their pride-less effort, the AFP has also merged into joint forces with the NSW to combat terrorism, making them one of the few police departments that have done that.
When you think of Canada, you may think of politeness-to-a-fault and some of the nicest people you’ve ever met—people that don’t even lock their doors because they aren’t afraid of burglaries. Well that’s all because of the RCMP. Though the Police of Canada might not always experience the same aggressive situations as other countries, their training is still above the general standards and prepares them for those unexpected and unpredictable situations.
They also have the privilege of educational training, and they undergo practice on-the-field training. The RCMP has provided exceptional law enforcement services for over 140 years, and they’ve become one of the most highly respected police forces in the world.
15 Dubai Traffic Police
You might not expect a traffic police unit to be found on any “toughest police forces” lists, but hear us out. The United Arab Emirates has some of the worst road safety records of any comparable developed nation. Their roads are so dangerous that they’ve actually shortened the life expectancy in the Emirate to just 76.3 years.
Part of the problem is the supercar races that occur on the motorways at night, and to combat that, Dubai’s insanely rich police force decided to invest in a fleet of fast cars themselves.
They now have an assortment of exotic patrol vehicles, including Lamborghini Aventadors, Aston Martin One-77s, Bentley Continental GTs, Ferrari FFs, and even a Bugatti Veyron. And the police have the expert training to use those cars as needed, too.
14 Polizia Di Stato
This should come as no surprise when you consider that Italy is home to the mafia, which rules the organized crime world in the country (and many of the leaders). The Polizia Di Stato is therefore one of the most highly trained police forces in the world due to their exclusive establishment and implementation of the “Anti-Mafia” division.
They are responsible for putting a stop to some of the most dangerous Mafia bosses in the world, including the #2 Most Wanted Person in the World, Matteo Messina Denaro, the leader of the Italian Cosa Nostra group. All in all, The National Italian Police Force consists of a staggering 300,000 officials split amongst five National forces and five Local police forces—the highest number of police officials in the European Union.
One of the best police forces in Europe is the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) or Scotland Yard, responsible for law enforcement in Greater London. They ranked #1 in Infotainment.com’s “best police forces in the world” list.
The Met was founded in 1829 and has a very good track record. They are an internationally renowned police department, with 48,661 full-time staff, including 31,478 oath police officers, 13,350 non-police personnel, and 3,831 non-sworn police community support officers. This number excludes the 5,479 Special Constables who work part-time. They have an annual budget of £4.1 billion, more than anywhere else in the UK, and they have a fleet of 8,000 vehicles, including armored multi-role vehicles, training vehicles, protected carriers, control units, response vehicles, area cars, and more.
According to Wonderlist.com, the NPA ranks #1 on their “10 most highly trained police forces” list, and here’s why. Japan’s National Police Agency is directly under the National Public Safety Commission, ultra-disciplined, and it’s very rare to find a corrupt officer in the masses.
Their structured training is intense, versatile, flexible, and covers almost every known aspect, from crime prevention to law enforcement.
Policemen and women in the NPA are trained equally in respective divisions that are divided like so: General Affairs, Police Administration, General Safety, Community Police, Criminal Investigation, Organized Crime, Traffic Police, The Security Police, and Instructor Division. They also have a dedicated Research and Training Center that conducts financial crime investigations to stop money laundering, fraud, “cybercrime,” and more.
11 Marshals Service
The Marshals Service is a famous, internationally-renowned police force. Our law enforcement has plenty of special units, but one of the toughest ones to get into is the Marshals Service. The details of those selected and the training processes involved is a highly guarded secret.
The title of Marshal is almost as old as the country it calls home, as the service became a federal government agency in 1789.
There is local and state police, and then there is federal police which is above any other and responsible for crimes across the land. That’s where the US Marshals come in. They are the enforcers of the federal court system, handling everything from protecting courts to tracking down fugitives. Their training program lasts for 19 weeks and is considered one of the toughest.
10 Special Task Force
The Special Task Force of Sri Lanka is the elite counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency unit of the country, with their prime task being to deal with the Tamil Tiger separatist guerrilla movement. Their unit is so renowned that they often teach missions around the world. The Special Task Force, for instance, helped authorities prepare for the Beijing Olympics.
The unit was formed in 1983 with a Sri Lankan Olympian at their head. The first training came from the Sri Lankan army, but the SAS from Britain were also brought in and Shin Beth officers from Israel also had input, helping create one of the most elite police units in the world. Their officers carry handguns, mortars, and even grenade and rocket launchers, as well as having armored personnel carriers.
The Grupe Especial de Operaciones in Spain, or GEOs, is another one of the most famous police forces in the world. The unit was formed in 1977 to tackle counter-terrorism. They were formed as a partnership between the Spanish army and police. They started out well, freeing five hostages in a bank raid with no injuries, and in their history their operational record is freeing 424 hostages and capturing 41 armed terrorists. Also, only one officer on duty has ever lost their life.
The candidates for the GEOs undergo an extensive training program which is both physical and mental. Among the physical tests is a 3-kilometer run that must be completed in 11.5 minutes, and many candidates fail initial training before making it to specialist training.
8 Police Nationale RAID
The Police Nationale RAID in France, nicknamed the Black Partners because of their noir getup, was formed in 1985. They are so elite that there are only 60 of them. Physically fit candidates may apply, as selection is voluntary, but only National Police officers with at least five year’s experience are eligible.
The success rate is about 10 out of every 600 applicants, and they must go through rigorous training that lasts nine months and includes 6-hours-a-day of tough physical work.
They learn martial arts, tactics, shooting, learn how to get into buses and planes and trains, rescue hostages, attack from helicopters, parachuting, and how to drive like madmen.
Mexico is considered a country on the verge of collapse because of the powerful cartels that have all but replaced state authority in parts of the country. The police are often in the pay of the narco gangs, which makes matters worse because trust is a huge issue. But the GOPE, or Grupo de Operaciones Especiales, is the most elite and trained unit of the Federal Police in Mexico. They take on the task of tackling the worst criminals, bagmen, and illegal militia.
There are only 87 GOPE officers, all working in groups of eight to 12 on their missions. Their training is obviously very tough and specific. Among the organizations that helped train this unit are the special forces, the police forces, Colombia’s urban anti-terrorist unit, French police special units, our own Air Marshal service, and the navy airborne marine unit.
The Yamam of Israel are considered the elite anti-terror police force of the Israeli Border Police, an agency that has been very hard-pressed for many, many years. The Yamam was founded in 1974 after a tragic event at Ma’a lot in which a hostage crisis failed to save 21 children. The special police unit was formed to tackle similar crises in the future, and their training is one of the hardest in the world. They are highly armed, and this force has twice won the Urban Shield competition. One of their favorite apparatuses is an armored bulldozer that is used to raze buildings harboring terrorists. The training session of the force lasts six months and includes a “hell week.”
The Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, or BOPE, is considered an urban warfare unit that is also tasked with policing Brazil’s sprawling shanty towns. Their operations are often controversial and they have been accused of doing some pretty terrible things to suspects and abusing their considerable power.
But they remain one of the most elite units in the world, packed with all-black uniforms, masks, crossed pistols and badges.
Their duties include policing the prison riots and in times of war they are sent to the front lines. The unit undergoes extensive training and the final three days involves staying constantly awake with almost no sustenance, running mock missions.
This elite police unit performs their duties in the jungles of Colombia, where the cocaine barons rule and the FARC guerrillas have been fighting a brutal civil war against their established leaders. Therefore, the Junglas officers are very tough and trained.
In most countries of the world, the Junglas would be considered an army unit. The police force was founded in 1989 and set up training sessions with the US Special Forces and Britain’s SAS.
They now have their own training with some input from US DEA agents. There are around 600 Junglas and their main job is t destroy jungle drug labs. An even more elite group of 40 Junglas from the Special Reconnaissance Team are responsible for the most dangerous missions.
It’s no secret that we have some of the worst crime rates in the world among developed nations, and therefore they need an elite policing unit to take care of things. Along with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the APF, and the United States army, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team is one of the most elite in the world. SWAT members are put through some of the most rigorous training in the world, in order to help protect the people they serve.
They were created in the 1960s to handle riot control or violent confrontations. SWAT teams are deployed about 50,000 times a year, often into “high-risk” situations, and they have some of the best firearms and equipment out of any paramilitary police unit (PPU) in the world.
2 EKO Cobra
EKO Cobra is the elite Police Tactical Unit of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior. They are not part of the Austrian Federal Police but are directly under the control of the Federal Ministry. There are 450 members, all of which have trained with some of the most elite special forces units in the world, creating a sort of dream-team of paramilitary police units. They’ve been involved in rescues, operations with the Austrian Armed Forces, and shootings. They have some of the best equipment out of any PPU in the world, including Steyr-manufactured weapons, modified Federal Police uniforms, and other special equipment. EKO Cobra competed in the 2011 Annual Warrior Competition and won top honors, beating the United States Marine Corps 13th MEU and a joint team from the US Army Special Forces 5th Group and Jordan SFG 101 among many others.
1 GSG 9
The GSG 9 is the elite Police Tactical Unit of the German Federal Police, and the counterparts to the state-level Special Deployment Commandos. They are considered some of the most professional police units in the world. The GSG 9 came into creation after the 1972 Olympic Games terrorist tragedy.
GSG 9 is only open to officers with two-years service, and applicants go through rigorous medical, physical, and psychological training before taking a 16-week basic training and further 9-week specialized training.
All members must be top marksmen, though interestingly the police force has had over 1,500 operations and only had to use their weapons five times. Only one in five applicants make it through. They won the 2012 Annual Warrior Competition, defeating the 2011 champions, EKO Cobra.
References: wonderslist.com, inspirich.com, infotainworld.com, thesun.co.uk, businessinsider.com