German State Police officer in Hamburg, with the rank of Polizeihauptmeister mit Zulage (Police Chief Master with upgraded pay)

The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by a state to enforce the law, to protect the lives, liberty and possessions of citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder.[1] Their powers include the power of arrest and the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with the police forces of a sovereign state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from the military and other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing.[2] Police forces are usually public sector services, funded through taxes.

Law enforcement is only part of policing activity.[3] Policing has included an array of activities in different situations, but the predominant ones are concerned with the preservation of order.[4] In some societies, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, these developed within the context of maintaining the class system and the protection of private property.[5] Police forces have become ubiquitous in modern societies. Nevertheless, their role can be controversial, as some are involved to varying degrees in corruption, police brutality and the enforcement of authoritarian rule.

A police force may also be referred to as a police department, police service, constabulary, gendarmerie, crime prevention, protective services, law enforcement agency, civil guard or civic guard. Members may be referred to as police officers, troopers, sheriffs, constables, rangers, peace officers or civic/civil guards. Ireland differs from other English-speaking countries by using the Irish language terms Garda (singular) and Gardaí (plural), for both the national police force and its members. The word police is the most universal and similar terms can be seen in many non-English speaking countries.[6]

Numerous slang terms exist for the police. Many slang terms for police officers are decades or centuries old with lost etymology. One of the oldest, "cop", has largely lost its slang connotations and become a common colloquial term used both by the public and police officers to refer to their profession.[7]


First attested in English in the early 15th century, initially in a range of senses encompassing '(public) policy; state; public order', the word police comes from Middle French police ('public order, administration, government'),[8] in turn from Latin politia,[9] which is the Latinisation of the Greek πολιτεία (politeia), "citizenship, administration, civil polity".[10] This is derived from πόλις (polis), "city".[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Polisie
Alemannisch: Polizei
አማርኛ: ፖሊስ
العربية: شرطة
aragonés: Policía
asturianu: Policía
Avañe'ẽ: Tahachi
azərbaycanca: Polis
বাংলা: পুলিশ
Bahasa Banjar: Pulisi
Bân-lâm-gú: Kéng-chhat
беларуская: Паліцыя
български: Полиция
Boarisch: Kibara
བོད་ཡིག: ཉེན་རྟོག་པ།
bosanski: Policija
brezhoneg: Polis
català: Policia
čeština: Policie
Cymraeg: Heddlu
dansk: Politi
Deutsch: Polizei
eesti: Politsei
Ελληνικά: Αστυνομία
español: Policía
Esperanto: Polico
euskara: Polizia
فارسی: پلیس
føroyskt: Løgregla
Frysk: Plysje
Gaeilge: Póilíní
galego: Policía
贛語: 警察
ગુજરાતી: પોલીસ
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kín-chhat
한국어: 경찰
हिन्दी: पुलिस
hrvatski: Policija
Ido: Polico
Ilokano: Pulís
Bahasa Indonesia: Polisi
Interlingue: Policie
isiXhosa: Ipolisa (igosa)
íslenska: Lögregla
italiano: Polizia
עברית: משטרה
Basa Jawa: Pulisi
ქართული: პოლიცია
қазақша: Полиция
Kiswahili: Polisi
Кыргызча: Полиция
Latina: Vigil
latviešu: Policija
Lëtzebuergesch: Police
lietuvių: Policija
lingála: Pɔlísi
lumbaart: Polizia
magyar: Rendőrség
македонски: Полиција
മലയാളം: പോലീസ്
Māori: Pirihimana
मराठी: पोलीस
მარგალური: პოლიცია
مصرى: بوليس
Bahasa Melayu: Polis
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gīng-chák
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ရဲ
Nederlands: Politie
日本語: 警察
norsk: Politi
norsk nynorsk: Politi
occitan: Polícia
олык марий: Полиций
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Politsiya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪੁਲਿਸ
پښتو: څارندوی
Patois: Poliis
polski: Policja
português: Polícia
română: Poliție
Romani: Shagede
Runa Simi: Chapaq
русский: Полиция
Scots: Polis
shqip: Policia
sicilianu: Polizzia
Simple English: Police
slovenčina: Polícia
slovenščina: Policija
српски / srpski: Полиција
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Policija
suomi: Poliisi
svenska: Polis
Tagalog: Pulis
татарча/tatarça: Пүлисә
తెలుగు: రక్షకభటుడు
ไทย: ตำรวจ
ትግርኛ: ፖሊስ
Türkçe: Polis
українська: Поліція
اردو: پولیس
Tiếng Việt: Cảnh sát
Winaray: Pulis
ייִדיש: פאליציי
粵語: 警務處
Zazaki: Polis
中文: 警隊