The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

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The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  Sean on Sun 25 Jul 2010, 4:33 am

I have found it difficult to locate good, detailed information on the past uniforms of the Cantonal police of Switzerland.
Can anyone add to a cache of info on this subject?
http://i32.servimg.com/u/f32/12/22/09/10/58gene10.jpg

Band of the Geneva Police 1958

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Re: The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  ChrisF202 on Sun 25 Jul 2010, 6:18 am

Are those police with rifles in the background? Any chance they could actually be Swiss Army or Grenzwache (Swiss border guard)?

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Oh yes, police with rifles

Post  Sean on Sun 25 Jul 2010, 7:13 am

They are indeed police with rifles, a not uncommon feature of European policing. Here it is very much more ceremonial than aggression.

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Re: The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  Les-Art on Tue 10 Aug 2010, 7:19 am

Hi Sean,
Unfortunately there is no single source for the uniforrms of the Swiss cantonal Police, you can find some details on individual web sites of some of the forces.

There was a large book published in 1991 showing the uniforms of all the cantons police at that time.

References have been produced through the years by individuals working for the police for inclusion in anniversary books and brochures, however these tend to be very local publications and obviously not produced in English.

Were you looking for something in particular related to the older uniforms ?

Best Regards,
Les

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Re: The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  Sean on Tue 10 Aug 2010, 11:23 am

Hi Les,
Not after anything in particular, but then again perhaps everything I can get.
Its more a thread to add to as you can.
DO you know the title of the 1991 book?

Sean

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Re: The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  Les-Art on Fri 20 Aug 2010, 10:25 pm

Hi Sean,
Is this the kind of thing you are looking for ?

http://i68.servimg.com/u/f68/13/98/25/75/bavari10.jpg

This shows Bavarian Infantry meeting Swiss KantonsPolizei on the Border during WW1, around 1917, according to the photo caption. I can't identify the Canton however presume it is one near the German border possibly Schafthaussen as it is practically surrounded by Germany. Of note is the Armband on the left sleeve of the Swiss Policemen, it is the national flag, red armband with white cross, to show they are non-combatants and that you have crossed into neutral territory.

Regards.
Les

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Uniforms 1900 to 1920

Post  Les-Art on Fri 20 Aug 2010, 10:48 pm

Some more info on uniforms from 1900 to 1920, approximately.

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/aargau10.jpg
This is a Policeman of the AARGAU KONTANSPOLIZEI around 1910.
The Shako appears to have come into use around 1900 by most of the cantons, however it is difficult to be 100% certain when the uniforms changed throughout the different eras so I will be more generic with my estimates unless I can specifically find a year.

This uniform is fairly common for Swiss Police of the period. The Shako as seen below will give you a better view of the style of badge and the ball tuft.

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/luzern10.jpg
In general the centre of the badge was the coat of arms of the canton this one is Luzern and the colour of the tuft changed ,but does not seem to have had anything to do with the colour of the canton, as Luzern colours are Blue and White. More research will have to be done to figure these out.
The uniform was mainly Blue and the style shown would seem to be the most common.
The sword or dagger with the decorative knot is more ceremonial than practical, baynonets counld also be worn as rifles were issued on many occassions.
This jacket, in general, would be worn with riding breeches and boots or shoes with leggings. In some cantons collar patches were used.

Les


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Uniforms 1920 - 1950

Post  Les-Art on Fri 20 Aug 2010, 11:18 pm

There was a change sometime in the 1920's to the wide spread use of the Kepi as working head wear and the shako was worn as a ceremonial item.

Many forces moved away from Blue ,as the standard colour, to Grey as seem here modelled by the ENTIRE traffic unit of the Vaud Gendarmerie in 1929

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/vaud_p10.jpg
Of note here is the crossed straps, the left one is attached to the belt and suspends the pistol holster, the right one is seperate from the waist belt and carries a case which holds the traffic tickets and other documents. Piping on the Kepi is Blue and the badge is a grenade. The rigid eppaulettes are normally only used on ceremonial occassions, so this may be the inception of this unit.
The man second from the left is a rank possibly Sergeant and the one in charge of the unit.
POLICE and GENDARMERIE signs seem to be quite interchangeable in Switzerland, the car has POLICE but this is the Vaud Gendarmerie. It may be simply a practical thing as POLICE car plates are easily obtainable.

Here we have the Bern KantonsPolizei during the 1930's still wearing a Blue uniform .

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/bern_p10.jpg
Not a very good quality phot but interesting from a few points of view.
Kepi has no badge. The cross straps are worn in the oppsosite way to Vaud with the pistol on the right and the document case on the left. There is a good view of the document case under the arm of the Policeman on the right of the picture.

The uniforms did not change much throughout the period of the 30's to the 50's.

Les

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Uniforms 1950 - 1970

Post  Les-Art on Sat 21 Aug 2010, 12:04 am

The major cahnge in the 1950's is the use of open neck jackets and collar and tie in keeping with worldwide thinking on making uniforms more civilianised.

Here we have the Bern Kantonspolizei traffic unit in 1960,

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/bern_v10.jpg
Of note here is the modern, then, use of high visibilty items of White covers for the Kepi and white belts. These items were only used by the traffic police. The man on the left has a portable radio to contact the other patrol car parked further down the road to catch speeders that passs this group. Just visible on the middle cops arm is the top of a half sleeve which was put on both arms while directing traffic, it was white cloth elasticated at the top.

A new item of insignia started to appear, which can be seem on the chests of these officers, it looked like a set of wings with the canton coat of arms in full colour enamel in the centre.

Next here are the Traffic Unit of the Vaud Gendarmerie in the 1960's

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/vaud_g10.jpg
Again these guys have gone with the high visibilty look, but in this case the Kepi is actually produced with the white top as part of the manufacture, it was White top with grey body seperated with Blue piping, the badge of agrenade design was gold.
The Uniform is Grey with Blue collar patches(with gold grenade), cuff detail and stripe on the breeches. Shirt is lighter Grey and tie was Black. The small lanyard of twisted cord worn on the left shoulder has a traffic whistle attached which stays inthe pocket until needed.
The man on the right is the unit commander.

This next item stayed in use until the late 1970's early 1980's and seemed to have been used ONLY by thise Cantons that were also city forces like Zurich and basel. This one is worn be a member of the Appenzell Kantons polizei.

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/ar_pol10.jpg
It looks pretty much like a English Bobby helmet but was more substantially made, they are seen mainly in Grey but examples were also made in White for fixed traffic control duty at road junctions.

It was during this period that rank insignias were created to wear on the eppaulettes of jackets and the new shirts, something that wasn't required until now as jackets were worn for all duties. The new rank slides enabled the police officer to remove insignias for wear on other items and gave an outlet to the creation of very colourful items representing the cantons historical past, with historical colours and coats of arms.

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/45410.jpg

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/dferv10.jpg

More to come.

Les

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uniforms 1980 - 2000

Post  Les-Art on Sat 21 Aug 2010, 12:28 am

Just to bring things more up to date.

During this period uniform changes became quite rapid as new materials were being experimented with and the look of the police was being updated.

Cloth insignias in the form of shoulder patches were becoming the norm, whereas previously they would only be used to identify a specialist unit. These are examples from Bern.

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/ber10.jpg

Uniforms became numirous and it would take individual thread on each force to be able to document them all the following are from the AARGAU KANTONSPOLIZEI museum.

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/aargau11.jpg
In the foreground are the most recent uniforms.


http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/b8638510.jpg
This is a special tactical unit uniform and shows that the wearer is a dog handler, left arm patch, and shows another use for the rank slide as a breast badge.


http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/b8638511.jpg
This was the uniform for the traffic unit, note the other types of helmet used through the years in the background.


http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/b8638512.jpg
This is the Police School uniform, note the striped tie in cantonal colours.


Here is a typical uniform for this period, Luzern Kantonspolizei,

http://i38.servimg.com/u/f38/13/98/25/75/pol_lu10.jpg
The design of the uniform shown on the right really hasn't changed since the 1960's.

Well that's the basics, the more up to date stuff is on the NEW BLUE POLICE for EUROPE Thread, however I will probably add more to this thread once I track down more and better quality photos.

Any questions I'll be happy to help if I can.

Best Regards,
Les

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example of Rank structure

Post  Les-Art on Sat 21 Aug 2010, 12:34 am

Hi Guys,
Here is my first attempt at a Swiss Cantons Police rank structure.

This is the rank slides of the GENEVA GENDARMERIE.

http://i68.servimg.com/u/f68/13/98/25/75/geneva11.jpg

I will be trying others now that I have worked out how to do the slides,

Regards,
Les

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Re: The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  ChrisF202 on Sat 21 Aug 2010, 3:57 am

The use of police, polizei, polizia, and gendarmerie depends on whether the canton in question is French, German, or Italian speaking. Some of the French speaking cantons use Police and others use Gendarmerie. In addition the major cities also have municipal police forces seperate from the cantonal police. There is also a Swiss Federal Police and a Federal Border Guard.

I have been intrigued by the Swiss military and police rank insignia but unfortunately such information is hard to come by. Virtually all of what is posted on uniforminsignia.org is outdated by at least 10-15 years Embarassed

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Re: The various Swiss Cantonal Police Forces

Post  Les-Art on Sat 21 Aug 2010, 4:18 am

Hi Chris,
I understand what you say but on this occassion I do not think you are correct. The Use of POLICE and POLIZEI seem to be interchangeable all over Switzerland currently, it may have been the case many years ago that the various variations were used but not today.

Wether the canton speaks German or French seems not to matter anymore. The GENEVA and VAUD GENDARMERIE , French speaking, have many items of equipment marked POLICE, French speakers understand what Gendarmerie means ,so the use of POLICE does not make sense ,except on an economic basis as it is easier to get signs and markings for POLICE from sources all over the world not so easy to get Gendarmerie.

I do not know anything about the Swiss Military or it's ranks ,but I know a little about the Police forces and their rank structure and agree that finding info is quite difficult and just requires more research than most countries. I think anything you find on uniforminsignia.org must be verified for accuracy before you accept it as correct, this is based on what I have looked at on it and I wouldn't go on it again. The rank structure of Swiss police forces has not changed over the past 10-15 years only their uniforms.

What were you trying to find out ?

Best Regards,
Les

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