The Paris attacks have rekindled discussion about whether police in Iceland need weapons.
Last Thursday, Morgunblaðið quoted Chief Superintendent Jón F. Bjartmarz, at the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, as saying, “We need more people and we need equipment so the police can manage their security job.”
He claims the National Commissioner is still waiting for a response from the Ministry of the Interior to a report it sent in April, in which the need for manpower, weapons and equipment is expressed. The report suggests that the build-up of additional capacity be accelerated and additional funding provided to renew and improve special equipment.
Jón maintains that law enforcement officials find the situation serious. He says the operation training of the police force has been substantially increased in the past two years, but admits the trouble lies in a lack of weapons, equipment and manpower. The report states there is need for 150 machine guns, which does not include the needs of special police forces. It further specifies that various equipment of the special police forces is outdated, even decades old, and needs renewal.
It was reported in October last year that police authorities had imported a large number of guns to Iceland despite no discussion on increasing the police and Coast Guard’s firepower having taken place in parliament.
It later came to light that the Norwegian army expected significant payment for the weapons, while the Icelandic Coast Guard had always maintained the weapons had been a gift. The decision to send the weapons back was made because it was out of the question to use limited funds on buying guns, the Coast Guard said.
Jón notes that the security assessment in Iceland has not changed in the wake of the Paris attacks.