Country Listing

Jordan Table of Contents


Police Forces


Traffic policeman, Amman


Desert policeman on a camel


Desert police making coffee, Khawr Ramm

In 1989 primary responsibility for the routine maintenance of law and order was exercised by the Public Security Force, the country's national police establishment. Centralized in time of peace within the Public Security Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, the police were subordinated to the Ministry of Defense and under the control of the army commander in the event of war. Traditionally, the police have been commanded by an officer with the title of director general of public security, usually a senior army general, who reported to the minister of interior. Officers assigned to this important position were personally selected by Hussein on the basis of their military record, leadership qualifications, and loyalty to the crown. As of early 1989, the head of the police organization was Lieutenant General Abdul Hadi al Majali, formerly chief of the general staff.

An outgrowth of the Arab Legion, the Public Security Force was created by law in July 1956, when the legion was separated into distinct police and army elements. During the twenty months of martial law instituted by Hussein from April 1957 to November 1958, the police were again subordinated to army control. As domestic and external threats to Hashimite rule were brought under better control, a new law in July 1958 reestablished the separation of the two security forces.

The strength of the Public Security Force was estimated to be about 4,000 personnel in the late 1980s. A considerable augmentation of the Desert Police Force was reported to be planned in 1988. The relatively large size of the force, combined with the army support, testified to the importance of the internal security function.

The police were classified broadly according to areas of geographic responsibility. The three major divisions were the metropolitan (Amman), rural (small towns and villages), and desert contingents. Police headquarters in Amman provided both an administrative control point for the countrywide system and an array of centralized technical functions that supported police activities throughout the kingdom. A reorganization of the Public Security Directorate announced in 1987 reduced the previous five-tiered structure to only three tiers. Below the central headquarters, with its overall responsibility for police, security, and law enforcement activities, were ten regional directorates. Eight of the directorates corresponded to the governorates, and one covered the city of Amman and its suburbs. The desert region was a separate directorate and was patrolled by the Desert Police Force. Under the 1987 plan, the ten regions were to be subdivided into fifty-nine security centers, each of which typically would be responsible for an area of five to ten square kilometers and serve 50,000 people.

Public Security Force missions included the usual tasks of maintenance of public order, protection of life and property, investigation of criminal activity, and apprehension of suspected offenders. In addition to these basic functions, special elements of the force performed such duties as traffic control, licensing of vehicles and certain business activities, enforcement of trade prohibitions and zoning ordinances, locating missing persons, guarding shrines and other public places, assisting customs and immigration officials in the performance of their duties, and operating the country's penal institutions. In announcing the 1987 reorganization, the director general of public security emphasized an increased social role for the police and strengthened police relations with the local community. He described the police as the conduit through which the public could seek assistance from various government authorities in resolving social problems.

Functionally, the responsibilities assigned to the police were carried out according to a tripartite division of responsibilities at the headquarters level--administrative, judicial, and support operations. Administrative police were charged with prevention of crime and routine maintenance of security and public order. Criminal offenses were under the jurisdiction of judicial police, who conducted criminal investigations, apprehended suspects, and assisted the public prosecutor's office in prosecuting accused offenders. Support police performed budget, planning, training, public affairs, communications, and logistic functions. Insofar as was possible, regional police activities throughout the country conformed to this division of responsibilities. Modern communications facilities connecting regional directorates with the headquarters in Amman provided a direct link to specialized elements such as the Criminal Investigation Department's modern police laboratory, which also assisted regional and local police in their investigations.

The Special Police Force within the Public Security Directorate had principal responsibility for countering terrorism. As part of its antiterrorism program, the Jordanian government cooperated with various international bodies in sharing information and resources. A multimillion dollar project to improve police communications, announced in 1988, was another element of the antiterrorist campaign. In connection with this project, the Special Police Force had participated in bomb detection programs for dogs and their handlers offered by the United States. The Desert Police Force, which had responsibility for detecting and stopping drug and gun smuggling, had also been greatly expanded.

Depending on their location, the police were armed with pistols, rifles, nightsticks, or light automatic weapons. In Amman and the larger towns, special crowd and riot control equipment and armored vehicles were available. The police force was fully motorized, had good communications facilities, and operated much on the pattern of European law enforcement agencies. Police units in rural areas were assigned less modern equipment, and in the desert areas the traditional system of camel-mounted desert patrols survived, supplemented by improved communications gear and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Police personnel have been recruited throughout the service's existence through voluntary enlistments. The National Service Law of 1976 ensured that most younger members of the force would have had some military training before entering police work. Training for both officers and enlisted ranks was provided primarily by the staff of the Royal Police Academy in Amman, but some recruits received their instruction at the separate Police Training School in Az Zarqa. The school at Az Zarqa also welcomed large numbers of police trainees from friendly Arab countries. In addition to courses in general and administrative police work, cadets at the academy studied the country's legal system, underwent physical training, and were instructed in the use of firearms and other police equipment. Judicial training included courses in criminal investigation procedures, court operations, and the criminal code. As part of efforts to improve the general education level of the Public Security Force, the government announced in 1987 that officer recruits would be required to have university degrees and NCO recruits would be required to be graduates of high schools or vocational schools.

The first Arab country to admit women to its police establishment, Jordan opened a women's police academy in Amman in 1972. Before being assigned to positions in law enforcement, the women recruits completed a four-month classroom course followed by one month of practical training in the field. Assignment opportunities expanded steadily after the program began. Women served primarily in the police laboratory, in budgeting and accounting, public relations, licensing, and in prison operations. Some served in street patrols and traffic control in Amman and in border security.

Ranks and insignia of the Public Security Force were identical with those of the army, although job titles were necessarily different. Police uniforms in the Amman metropolitan area were dark blue in winter and light tan in summer, resembling in style those of the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Rural police wore an olive drab uniform lighter in shade than that of the army but otherwise similar. The Desert Police Force retained their traditional Arab garb. Police pay scales were about the same as those of the army but differed somewhat in the special allowances authorized. The conditions of service were sufficiently favorable to attract and retain enough personnel to staff the force fully.

Data as of December 1989

Country Listing

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