No more police insignia for border guards
Norwegian soldiers guarding the border to Russia are no longer allowed to wear police insignia patches on their uniforms.
The border guards have limited police authority when guarding the border and have therefore been wearing a removable civilian police insignia patch on their uniforms while patrolling the border. The Norwegian Defence Staff claims that this use is in conflict with international law and has demanded the patches removed.
The Defence Staff argues that in a military conflict the police are regarded as civilians and protected persons, while soldiers are considered legal targets for the enemy.
The local police in the border area do not agree with the Defence Staff’s conclusions and want the border guard soldiers to be able to openly show their police authority on the border. “The public needs to know that the soldiers are enforcing the police’s authority, and we came up with this solution with Velcro patches that can be removed easily”, acting Chief of Police in Eastern Finnmark Police District Trond Erik Nilsen says to ABC Nyheter. “If a conflict situation should occur, it would be very easy to take the patches off”.
The local police have sent the case to the Police Directorate and asked the Defence Staff to reconsider its stand.
The soldiers at Sør-Varanger Garrison (GSV) immediately stopped wearing the police patches when the order from the Defence Staff came. “The fact that we have stopped wearing the patches does not mean that out authority has been reduced. We now have to show papers instead if somebody questions our authority”, Deputy Commander at GSV Major Per Arne Kjøtrød says to ABC nyheter.