The police director warns against Americanizing the police debate

Police Director, Benedicte BjørnlandPolice Director, Benedicte Bjørnland.Photo: Geir Olsen / NTB scanpix

Police Director Benedicte Bjørnland says that young people must not draw parallels between Norwegian and American police.

“They are completely different countries with different cultures and different practices with regards to the role of the police”, says the police director to NRK.

Several police officers believe they have lost trust and authority among young people in the last six months, especially after the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the USA. The police director believes this is a disturbing development.

“We are portrayed as a very violent agency that is not on par with the inhabitants, and which discriminates against certain ethnic groups and age groups”, says operations unit manager Morten Ørn in the West police district.

The backdrop is this weekend’s SIAN celebration in Bergen, where the police used tear gas against counter-protesters, something they have been criticized for in retrospect.

US expert Hilmar Mjelde also draws lines between Americanisation of the public debate in Norway and loss of confidence in the police.

“There is a war-like debate on every side. A simplified black-and-white understanding of the world has become more common”, says the Norce researcher.

He says he has seen American-inspired terms such as “fake news” and “fuck the police” from the radical right and the radical left in Norway for several years. Both sides draw expressions and rhetoric from the United States without taking into account how it fits into Norwegian society.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


1 Comment on "The police director warns against Americanizing the police debate"

  1. Police Director Bjørnland is absolutely right. On Washington Post I’ve been describing why Norwegian police are police done right, in complete contrast to American police.

    In America there are innumerable independent police departments at all levels – city, county/sheriff, and state – which are vulnerable to incompetence and to Mafia and political corruption – indeed, in some cases Mafia-controlled political machine corruption, and now America has the Albanian Mafiya as well as the Mexican MS-13, the Somalis in Minnesota, the black mafia, and of course the Italian- and Cuban-American Mafia almost everywhere. Then there are high-end operators like Epstein.

    Too many American kids are ending up drug addicts and prostitutes – often to be exported overseas to international “marketss” by international crime. (This may now be happening to some Norwegian kids too, as outnumbered by dangerous gang types as Norwegian police have become. Mafias and gangs rule by terror and should be subject to terror laws.)

    By contrast, in my Washington Post comments I hold up Norwegian police as an example of police as they should be. Norwegian police are not just trained but are educated, and candidates are psychologically screened – and I assume that monitoring of that kind continues into service, as shocking and dispiriting as some policepersons’ experiences can be.

    Unjustified criticism of Norwegian police by groups wanting to get ethno-political wars started like in Sweden or by organized and/or ethnic criminals wanting to get the police to back off farther so they can do more evil is to be expected.

    But Norwegians and especially Norwegian media should stand by their/our police, because as far as I can tell they are among the very best in the world.

    That said, the police inspector general and police ombudsman must continue to vigorously help to see the high standards are maintained.

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