100th anniversary of regaining Independence - the beginnings of the State Police

Awareness of the necessity to undertake activities that serve the security of every citizen has evolved along with the social and economic development of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth over the centuries. Such defined processes were also accompanied by an increase in the importance of legal sciences and practice in law enactment and enforcement in Poland.

In addition to organizational measures and functions assigned to their implementation, present since the Middle Ages on Polish soil, the first steps establishing the police authorities in 1775 were taken by the Permanent Council creating the Police Department. Then, during the four-year Sejm, the Police Commission of the Two Nations was formed which took over responsibility for all matters

In addition to organizational measures and functions assigned to their implementation, present since the Middle Ages on the Polish soil, the first steps establishing the police authorities in 1775 were taken by the Permanent Council creating the Police Department. Then, during the four-year Sejm, the Police Commission of the Two Nations was formed, which took over responsibility for all matters related to internal security[1]. Skipping the time of partitioning which is tragic for the Polish statehood, attention should be paid to the period preceding the creation of the Second Polish Republic.

In 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War, the Poles made efforts to regain independence, including actions aimed at self-determination in many areas of social life - among others, organizations that were supposed to take care of public order, including paramilitary ones, mainly related to political parties and others created by groups of citizens to protect the places (areas) of their residence during the turbulent times of war and occupation.

The Civic Guards were created, mainly for patriotic reasons, as executive organs of Citizens'

Committees having a social, typically Polish, spontaneous nature. The next stage observed in many places of our divided homeland was the organization of uniformed and armed (at the beginning only in white weapons) Municipal Militia - militias from Warsaw and Zagłębie Dąbrowskie were of particularly good organization. After the creation of the Kingdom of Poland in 1917 with fragmented statehood and after becoming independent from Russia in March 1918, the Ministry of the Interior was organized with the department for police matters. The merging of order securing organizations of the "Congress Kingdom" started: the Railway Guards, the River Guards, the Lublin People's Militia and the National Gendarmerie.

source: policja.pl

In Wielkopolska, after the victorious uprising, the authorities of the People's Guards and the Polish Gendarmerie subject to the Military Department of the Supreme People's Council in Poznań exercised police authority - the incorporation of the authoritative organs of Wielkopolska and Pomerania took place only in June 1920[2].

The organizing activities of the police services in Upper Silesia were carried out in a turbulent manner. In addition to the People's Guards, Polish-German plebiscite police functioned during the plebiscite and the unification process ended only in 1922 with the entry of Polish authorities into Silesia. Due to the economic importance of Upper Silesia, the region has received autonomy – similarly, the framework for the operation of the police forces of the Silesian Voivodship Police was defined[3].

Wonderful moments of regaining independence - symbolic date of 11th November 1918 - preceded by an upsurge of independence, organic work with the great role of the Church and national creators of culture; resistance against Germanization and Russification and years marked by the suffering of millions of Poles is a great moment on the road to building the Second Polish Republic, but not the end of state-building efforts. It is also the most important stage in the creation of Polish police forces - an important impetus for the unification work of security services operating throughout the reviving country. Police organization in three former partitions, based on residents drawing the patterns, in a natural way, from the organizational culture of the armed forces and administration of partitioners and their own, so different experiences, was a difficult task. The publication of the provisions on the essence of the police service became an urgent issue.

source: https://www.google.com/search?q=ustawa+o+Policji+Pa%C5%84stwowej&client=firefox-b-ab&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwigvbrzq7reAhUFfiwKHbimBYQQ_AUIDigB&biw=2048&bih=989#imgrc=rsO_QI4HrRwzmM: (access: 2018.11.04)

July 24, 1919 by virtue of the Act on the State Police (Journal of Laws of 1919 No. 61, item 363), a uniformed and armed formation organized on the military model was created and subordinated to the Minister of Interior.

The basic tasks concerned protection of security, peace and public order.

A condition for admission to the Police, in accordance with art. 26 of the Act was, quotation:

  • “Polish citizenship,

  • impeccable past,

  • age from 23 to 45 years,

  • healthy and strong body build and adequate height,

  • knowledge of the Polish language in writing and orally and counting skills."

The legislator assumed that the regulation should concern the main issues related to the functioning of the Police and should refer to the basic principles of maintaining public security and order. Specific issues were to be resolved through the orders of the Minister of Interior and Circulars and orders of the Police Commander-in-Chief[4].

The Act of 24th July 1919 described the organizational structure, which was supposed to be coherent with the administrative division of the state. The State Police was divided into:

  • district headquarters, combining several or a dozen district headquarters;

  • poviat headquarters, corresponding territorially to poviats;

  • police stations, covering larger cities in poviats or districts in large cities;

  • permanent posts in municipalities.

In cities constituting an independent administrative unit, the Police was organized having the rights of poviat or district headquarters. According to art. 5 of the Act, poviat investigation offices were established at district headquarters.

source: policja.pl

In the first period, 5 district headquarters and one in the capital city of Warsaw were established. By 1925, a total of 16 district headquarters were created and the Chief Headquarters of the Silesian Voivodship.

source: http://www.nowastrategia.org.pl/uzbrojenie-policji-panstwowej/ (access: 2018.11.03)

District headquarters were numbered from I to XVI - they included the following districts: 1st Warsaw District, 2nd Łódź District, 3rd Kielce District, 4th Lublin District, 5th Bialystok District, 6th District of the Capital City of Warsaw, 7th Cracow District, 8th Lviv District , IX Tarnopol district, X Stanisławów District, XI Poznan District, XII Pomeranian District, XIII district of Volhynia, XIV Poleski district, fifteenth district of Nowogródek, XVI district of Vilnius.

At the head of the Police there was the Chief Police Commander reporting directly to the Minister of the Interior, appointed by the Chief of State. The Police Commander-in-Chief directly subordinated to the district commanders who were responsible for police operations in the district and dealt with all matters related with the organization, administration, supplementation and training of the police in the district. Investigative offices were directed by the heads of the investigative Police directly subordinated to the district commander. At the head of the Police in the poviat, there was a poviat commander and at the head of the district police – police commissar. Senior State Police officers were appointed by the Minister of the Interior at the request of the Police Commander-in-Chief[5].

source: policja.pl

source: policja.pl

To sum up the aforementioned short considerations presented on the 100th anniversary of independence, it is worth noting the mature organizing thought and a great job, often absolutely basic, done at that time to establish police structures and prepare citizens to serve in its ranks.

The task undertaken by the creators of the State Police (SP) seems, from today's perspective, extremely difficult in the context of the need for standardization, unification of procedures, practices and rules of police work and their implementation in every part of the-then diversified country. One can definitely say that the process of building a uniform police formation, in the basic scope, lasted several years and was successful, despite many problems, mistakes and abuses or violations of law related to the activities of the new formation.

It should be emphasized that the police officers, SP units were an extremely important element of building Polish statehood in every part of the country and constituted its strength, especially in distant from the centre poviats, ethnically and culturally diverse. The police were, in a way, an emanation of the state, its principles, organization, power and Polish culture and language. Today's formation - The Police established under the Act of 1990 draws from these standards and refers to the tradition of its predecessor - the State Police.

source: policja.pl

[1]Grabowski S., Zarys historii polskiej policji, [in:] Kędzierska G. (ed.), 85 lat Polskiej Policji, WSPol Szczytno 2004, s. 7-8; Por.: A. Misiuk, Policja Państwowa 1919–1939, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 1996.

[2]There ,p. 9-10

[3]There, p. 11-13

[4]Perz G., Wybrane zagadnienia Historii Policji, Materiały Dydaktyczne CSP Legionowo 2013, p. 7

[5]There, p. 8

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