Police Motor Units
The History of Motorcycle Law Enforcement

 "Virtual Museum"

 

 

 

 


The Police in Iceland start to use

motorcycles as police vehicles

 

In the spring of 1942 the Police in Reykjavik bought two Harley Davidson motorcycles. A year later, two more motorcycles were bought and in 1944 when Iceland became a republic another motorcycle was bought. The first inspector to manage the motorcycle division in Reykjavik was Sverrir Guðmundsson, who later became a superintendant in Reykjavik. Along with Sverrir were three other police constables in Reykjavik.

 Motorcycles soon proved to be very useful especially during the festivities at Thingvellir in June 1944 when the Icelandic nation celebrated their independence from Denmark and the country became a republic. There was a lot of traffic to Thingvellir and the motorcycles proved useful since they were able to go past the traffic and reach areas much quicker than any car could have done that day. In 1944 the Police in Reykjavik had 5 motorcycles but borrowed three more so they were able to use eight during the celebrations.

 

 

 

PC Möller on a 1967 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead Model FLHP Electraglide.

Two fairly new Harley Davidson police motorcycles.

The Funeral of PC Sveinsson in 1945

All police activities in the country are operated by the State under one control. The Minister of Justice is the supreme commander of the police: the National Commissioner administers the police under authorization of the Minister. The country is divided into 15 administrational districts and the District Commissioners respresent the complete andministrative branch of government locally, one in each district. The Director of Public Prosecutions is in overall command of police investigations and is obliged to monitor their progress. He is the highest holder of prosecution authority.

Structure

 

POLICE DISTRICTS

The map shows the 15 police districts which differ in size, both geographically and by population. The police districts differ accordingly in size, the smallest with 10 police officers up to the largest with over 350 officers.

Police officers work individually on daily basis in the smallest districts and do all parts of police work themselves while specialization maximizes efficiency within districts with tens or hundreds of officers. There are special investigative branches with in seven police departments, the Metropolitan one being by far the largest in both manpower and equipment.

There is good co-operation between the police departments and they provide mutual support. They can also request specific assistance from the office of the National Commissioner of Police.

 

n February 1974 PC Möller was responding to a call where a man had been drinking all day. The man was a former boxer but PC Möller didn’t know that. PC Möller was first on the scene where he waited for a while for back up. When no back up arrived PC Möller went in. The wife of the suspect allowed PC Möller to walk around the flat to look for the suspect where he soon found him in the laundry. PC Möller doesn’t remember what happened next but the suspect punched him and after the event PC Möller said that his motorcycle helmet had saved him. The attacker was sentenced to one year in prison for attacking the police constable and for two other charges.

 Police motorcycles in Iceland have been mainly used in Reykjavik and around Reykjavik. Today there are 14 motorcycles in Reykjavik that belong to the Metropolitan Police and one with the Police in Suðurnes, but the main international airport in Iceland is in Suðurnes.

 Three killed in motorcycle accidents

Three police constables have died while on duty riding a police motorcycle. In May 1945 police constable Sveinson died after falling of his motorcycle. While driving the motorcycle, PC Sveinsson drove into a deep whole and was thrown of the motorcycle hitting his head and shoulder. He died few days later in hospital. The second incident was in 1961 when PC Sigurðsson drove into a oil supply vehicle that turned in front of him. The driver of the oil supply vehicle didn’t see PC Sigurðsson coming but he was thrown 8 metres of his bike and hit the ground pretty hard. PC Sigurðsson never regained consciousness and died few days later in hospital. It is believed that PC Sigurðsson was in pursuit of a suspect because he was driving very fast with his blue lights on. The third incident was in 1967 when PC Hjaltason was on a normal patrol when suddenly a jeep drove in front him. The motorcycle hit the left side of the jeep, the driver didn’t see the motorcycle until too late. PC Hjaltason died later that night from the injuries he suffered from the fall.


Information and Photos provided by The Office of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police.