Sri Lanka Table of Contents
By late 1987, the police had an estimated total strength of 21,000 personnel, with plans to increase to 28,000. The force expanded most rapidly in the years following the 1971 uprising, an event that constituted the nation's first major challenge to internal security; between 1969 and 1974, the police grew from 11,300 to 16,100, an increase of over 42 percent. According to the United States Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the force was less than 5 percent Tamil.
Following the British tradition, Sri Lankan police were customarily unarmed during routine patrol duty in the years following independence. With the growth of ethnic tensions in the late 1970s and the increasing tendency of both Sinhalese and Tamil extremist groups to target the police, the government decided in 1982 to issue handguns to all sergeants and constables. Chinese copies of Soviet pistols formed an important component of the police arsenal, and included the 7.62mm Type 54 (modeled on the Soviet TT-M1933) and the 9mm Type 59 (based on the Soviet PM). For emergencies, the police also used the British Lee Enfield .303 carbine. The Commando Squadron was equipped with Sterling submachineguns, repeater shotguns, revolvers, and tear gas.
Regular force training in the 1980s was conducted at the Police College in Katukurunda, Western Province. Separate training facilities for the Special Task Force have been established in Kalutara, 96 kilometers south of Colombo. Starting in 1984, foreign trainers affiliated with Keeny Meeny Services offered counterinsurgency pilot training in the use of Bell 212 and 412 helicopter gunships.
Data as of October 1988