The Bereitschaftspolizei (literally "Alert Police" or "Readiness Police", means Riot Police) are the support and rapid reaction units of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's police forces. They are composed of detachments from the Federal Police and the State Police forces of Germany.

Federal Republic

The Federal Ministry of the Interior
Federal Ministry of the Interior (Germany)
The Federal Ministry of the Interior is a ministry of the German federal government. Its main office is in Berlin, with a secondary seat in Bonn. The current minister of the interior is Dr...

 maintains an office of the Bereitschaftspolizei in Berlin which monitors and coordinates the deployment of all Bereitschaftspolizei units in Germany. The ministry also provides standardized weapons, vehicles and other equipment.

Federal Police

The Bundespolizei
German Federal Police
The Bundespolizei is a uniformed federal police force in Germany. It is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior...

maintains 10 rapid reaction battalions (called Bundespolizeiabteilung or BPA) stationed around the country in Ratzeburg, Uelzen, Blumberg, Bad Düben, Duderstadt, Sankt Augustin, Hünfeld, Bayreuth, Bad Bergzabern and Deggendorf. These units can reinforce the federal police in any sphere of its missions and support the police forces of the Länder. They are also trained to assist local authorities in case of disasters and uprisings. Under new interior ministry plans, the number of Bereitschaftspolizei companies will increase from 28 to 29 comprising approx. 25 percent of Germany’s police support units.

Länder/State Police

The state Bereitschaftspolizei units are part of the Landespolizei
thumb|[[Germany|German]] police officer in [[Hamburg]]The Landespolizei are the main police forces of Germany. They are under the sole jurisdiction, funded and operated by the states of Germany.-History:...

and are available for crowd control duties and to assist the Schupos (Schutzpolizei
The Schutzpolizei , or Schupo for short, is a branch of the Landespolizei, the state level police of the German states. Schutzpolizei literally means security or protection police but is best translated as Uniformed Police....

) when needed. Aside from their primary function of crowd control, in some states they also train police recruits who serve about three years in combined training and service in these police support units. The units of one federal state can be deployed to assist the police of another state in case of riots, civil disturbances as well as catastrophes. Their day-to-day duties vary by locality. In Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 they patrol the subway system, assist in raids in the red-light district
Red-light district
A red-light district is a part of an urban area where there is a concentration of prostitution and sex-oriented businesses, such as sex shops, strip clubs, adult theaters, etc...

, are present at large demonstrations and sports events, perform traffic control duty and support local police officers on regular patrols.


The structure, equipment and training of Bepo units is generally standard so that units from different parts of Germany can operate together without any problems.

The Bereitschaftspolizei is assigned to barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 and organized along military lines into sections, platoons and 120 to 150 person training or rapid reaction companies called Hundertschaft
Hundertschaft is a German term to denote a military or police group of around one hundred members. Historically the Germanic tribes created fighting groups of 100 men. This term is not used in the modern German military...

. In most Länder, the Bereitschaftspolizei contingents are formed into 600 - 800 person battalions, but in the six largest Länder they are organized into regiments.
Some police forces like Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 have additional alert platoons manned by regular police officers in case of urgent need of additional personnel when support from the state or the Federal Police is not available quickly enough.

The units are equipped with their own transport, tents, and rations allowing them to be deployed quickly to other Länder without having to rely on outside support. They are equipped with armored cars, buses, water cannons, earth moving equipment and command and control vehicles.

Arrest unit
Arrest unit
Arrest units are special units of the German state police forces Landespolizei and the German Federal Police...

s give the Bepos special capabilities to secure evidence and arrest perpetrators at events where large crowds normally impede police operations.

In the former German Democratic Republic

See article: Kasernierte Volkspolizei
Kasernierte Volkspolizei
Kasernierte Volkspolizei were the military units of the Volkspolizei in the German Democratic Republic...

The East German Ministry of the Interior maintained the independent Department of the Alert Units of the Volkspolizei
The Volkspolizei , or VP, were the national police of the German Democratic Republic . The Volkspolizei were responsible for most law enforcement in East Germany, but its organisation and structure were such that it could be considered a paramilitary force as well...

known as the Volkspolizei-Bereitschaften (VPB). It consisted of between 12,000 and 15,000 men (sources disagree) in 21 Volkspolizei Alert Units of battalion strength. There was usually one unit per district of East Germany but the key districts of Halle
Halle, Saxony-Anhalt
Halle is the largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is also called Halle an der Saale in order to distinguish it from the town of Halle in North Rhine-Westphalia...

, Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

 and Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

, with their large working class populations, and Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 all had two units. The Presidium of the People's Police in East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 had three units located in Basdorf
Basdorf is a small town to the north of Berlin, in the German federal state of Brandenburg....


Each Alert unit was organized as follows:
  • Headquarters section
  • Four alert companies:
    • One mechanized company in wheeled armored personnel carriers
    • Three motorized companies in trucks
  • Support company
    • Anti-tank platoon with 3x45 mm/57 mm(later ATGM's)
    • Artillery platoon with 3x76.2 mm ZiS-3
      The 76-mm divisional gun M1942 was a Soviet 76.2 mm divisional field gun used during World War II. ZiS was a factory designation and stood for Zavod imeni Stalina , the honorific title of Artillery Factory No...

       field/anti-tank guns
    • Mortar platoon with 3x82 mm mortars
  • Headquarters and staff company with:
    • signals platoon
    • engineer platoon
    • chemical platoon
    • reconnaissance platoon
    • transport platoon
    • supply platoon
    • control section
    • medical section

These units were equipped with light and medium infantry weapons, SK-1
Garant 30k SK-1
The Garant 30k SK-1 better known as the SK-1 was an East German armored patrol vehicle was used only by the Alert Police of the East German Police and not used by the East German Army. Though similar in appearance to the Russian BA-64, the SK-1 is an independent development and much bigger than the...

 wheeled armoured personnel carriers, SK-2 water cannon
Water cannon
A water cannon is a device that shoots a high-pressure stream of water. Typically, a water cannon can deliver a large volume of water, often over dozens of metres / hundreds of feet. They are used in firefighting and riot control. Most water cannon fall under the category of a fire...

 (both armoured and unarmoured versions) and bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es. Their uniform was the standard Volkspolizei grey-green. The political reliability of the Alert Units was of particular importance to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 (SED) as they would be used against the population in the event of social disorders such as the popular uprisings of 17 June 1953
Uprising of 1953 in East Germany
The Uprising of 1953 in East Germany started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers on June 16. It turned into a widespread anti-Stalinist uprising against the German Democratic Republic government the next day....

in the industrial areas of East Germany.
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