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Police commissioner (or commissioner of police) is a senior rank in many police forces. The holder is usually an experienced police officer, though some are politically appointed and may or may not actually be a professional officer. In such a case, there is usually a professional chief of police in charge of day-to-day operations. In either event, the commissioner is the designated head of the organization.
In police services of the UK, Commonwealth and USA, the title of commissioner typically designates the head of an entire police force. In some Latin American countries and in France, the title of commissioner may instead denote the head of a single police station (analogous to a chief superintendent in UK and Commonwealth countries).
The Australian Federal Police and the autonomous Australian state and territory police forces are each presided over by a commissioner, who is accountable to constituents through a minister of state. The state of Victoria at one time (during the 19th-century Gold Rush) appointed commissioners for both the metropolitan area and the goldfields. Outranking both was a "chief commissioner"—a title which has survived the disappearance of the earlier junior commissioners. In Victoria, as elsewhere, the second-highest rank is deputy commissioner.
The insignia of rank worn by a commissioner in the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police Force is a crown over a star and crossed and wreathed tipstaves, similar to the insignia of a military full general. In all other civilian forces, the insignia is a crown over crossed and wreathed tipstaves, similar to the insignia of a military lieutenant-general.
In Canada, the highest-ranking officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and of the Ontario Provincial Police holds the rank of commissioner. In the province of Alberta, the Police Act requires the municipality to appoint police commissioners that are required to provide public oversight of the police. In Alberta's capital city, Edmonton, there are nine commissioners, including two city councillors and seven city-appointed members, the object being to "provide civilian oversight for the police service". The commissioners appoint and oversee a chief of police, to whom is delegated the day-to-day management of the force.
In Kenya, the top-ranked police officer is the commissioner of police, who is appointed by the nation's president. The commissioner is charged with the overall administrative management of the police force under the established standing orders. Consequently, the commissioner reports directly to the president and is also a member of the national security council chaired by the president. Under the commissioner are several formation commanders who control the various arms of the Kenya Police Force such as the General Service Unit, the Criminal Investigations Department, and Police Operations.
In the police of France and other French-speaking countries, commissioner (commissaire) is a lower rank equating approximately to the British police rank of superintendent, above which is the rank of divisional commissioner. A former intermediate rank of "principal commissioner" was abolished in 2006.
The second-highest career bracket in German law enforcement leads to the rank of police commissioner or Kommissar. Training encompasses 3 years in a police academy (graduating as Diplom-Verwaltungswirt or Bachelor of Laws). The highest possible rank within this career bracket is that of Erster Hauptkommissar. The work of a Kommissar in general centers on investigation of felonies, depending on the branch of police and department he belongs to. Roughly equivalent to a British commissioner would be (Landes-) Polizeipräsident or Inspekteur der Polizei, titles that differ between police forces in Germany.
In the Indian Police, a commissioner of state police is designated Director General of Police (three-star rank) although a police commissioner of a city may be a "commissioner of police" (three-star rank), Inspector General of Police (two-star rank) or Deputy Inspector General of Police[dead link] (one-star rank).
In the Indonesian National Police, there are four levels of commissioner: police grand commissioner (Komisaris Besar Polisi), police grand commissioner adjutant (Ajun Komisaris Besar Polisi), police commissioner (Komisaris Polisi), and police commissioner adjutant (Ajun Komisaris Polisi). Due to strong military influence in its history, even now police ranks can be compared to the ranks of the Indonesian military. The four commissioner ranks are equivalent to the Indonesian military ranks of colonel, lieutenant colonel, major, and captain, respectively.
In the Italian Police, a commissioner (commissario) is the superintendent of a commissariato, a police station/detachment that can either serve an entire township of small or medium dimensions, or a limited area in a metropolitan city.
In Poland, a commissioner (komisarz) is a relatively low rank, directly above podkomisarz and below nadkomisarz, comparable to a lieutenant of the armed forces.
In the Romanian Police, similarly to the French Police (see commissaire de police), the rank of commissioner (comisar) is equivalent to the British police rank of superintendent (see also Romanian police ranks).
In Spain, a National Police commissioner is the chief of a police station. This rank is called comisario principal. There's a commissioner in the biggest cities and in smaller cities the chief of the police is headed by a superintendent. In the Civil Guard, this rank does not exist because it has a military organization. See National Police ranks and Civil Guard ranks
In England and Wales, outside of Greater London, police and crime commissioners are directly-elected officials charged with securing efficient and effective policing of their police area. They are not warranted police officers, although they appoint and hold to account their chief constable. The first police and crime commissioners were elected in November 2012, with the lowest electorate turnout ever in England and Wales.
Historically the title "commissioner" has denoted the professional chief police officer of certain police forces, and that is still the case within Greater London, with the Commissioner of the City of London Police and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Both these commissioners are appointed, not elected, and since the 1950s have been career police officers (as opposed to the previous practice of appointing former British Army officers). Although they were technically justices of the peace until the 1970s, the commissioners have always worn a similar uniform to police officers, and have been treated similarly in terms of pay and terms of service.
In some U.S. states, the sheriff fills the same function as a police commissioner. For example in Las Vegas, Nevada the elected county sheriff heads a combined county-municipal Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (created via a 1975 merger of the Clark County Sheriff's Department and the former Las Vegas Police Department). At least five other U.S. police agencies use the title "commissioner" for their highest-ranking official, including the Buffalo Police Department, New York City Police Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Baltimore City Police Department, St. Louis Police Department, and the Boston Police Department.