The Armenian Police was created in 1918, with the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia . Its history can therefore be roughly divided into the periods of the First Republic (1918-1920), the Soviet Armenia (1920-1991), and the Third Republic (1991 to present).
The First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920)
One of the order of business for the government of newly independent Armenia was establishment of the Ministry of Interior, of which the Police was an integral part. In addition to enforcing law and order, the Interior Ministry was initially also responsible for communications and telegraph, railroad, and the public school system. The Armenian parliament passed a law on the police on April 21, 1920, specifying its structure, jurisdiction, and responsibilities. The first Republic of Armenia ceased to exist on November 29, 1920.
The following individuals served as Ministers of Interior in this period:
Aram Manukian (July 1918 – January 1919), Alexander Khatisian (February 1919 – August 1919), Abraham Gulkhandanian (August 1919 – May 1920), Ruben Ter-Minasian (May 1920 – September 1920), Sargis Araratian (September 1920 – November 1920), and Simon Vratsian (November 1920).
The Soviet Armenia (1920-1991)
Upon establishment of the Soviet regime in Armenia , the Ministry of Interior was replaced by the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, which included the so-called “Special Commission” (better known by its Russian abbreviation “Cheka”) that was charged with rooting out “the class enemies” of the Socialist revolution. It was subordinated to the central Soviet police authorities. Between 1920 and 1940, the police agency was reorganized and renamed several time, serving as the tool of the Stalinist policy of oppression and mass executions. Ten out of thirteen heads of the Armenian police who served between 1920 and 1940 were executed by the same agency.
By 1950′s, the police and special services were finally separated into two agencies: the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Committee on State Security (KGB). The police was an integral part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The current Ministry headquarters building was built in Yerevan in 1960. In 1960′s and 1970′s, Interior Troops were added to the Ministry structure, Road Traffic Directorate and School of Police were created.
The following individuals served as Ministers of Internal Affairs in this period: Isahak Dovlatian (1920-1921), Poghos Makintsian (1921), Avis Nurijanian (1921), Shavarsh Amirkhanian (1921-1924), Hovhanes Durgarian (1924-1927), Sergei Melik-Hovsepian (1927-1928), Sedrak Margarian (1929), Haik Petrosian (1929-1930), Sedrak Otian (1930), Armenak Abulian (1930-1934), Khachik Mughdusi (1934-1937), Viktor Khvorostov (1937-1939), Alexei Korotkov (1939-1941), Georgi Martirosov (1941-1943, 1953-1954), Ivan Matevosov (1943-1947), Khoren Grigorian (1947-1953), Pyotr Piskunov (1954-1957), Haik Melkonian (1957-1961), Sergei Arzumanian (1961-1968), Vladimir Darbinian (1968-1974), Yevgeni Patalov (1974-1983), Haikaz Shahinian (1983-1988), Husik Harutyunian (1988-1990), Levon Galstian (1990), and Karlos Ghazarian (1990-1991).
The current period: 1991 to present
As the Soviet Union began to disintegrate in late 1980′s, the Internal Affairs Ministry became more of a national structure, and in fact, the police units were called upon to protect the Armenians living in border regions from the attacks by the Azeri forces and the Soviet Army in 1990 and 1991. Hundreds of police officers joined volunteer self-defense units and were killed in action while their colleagues had to tackle the rising organized crime at home front.
On June 21, 1992, the Interior Troops were established by the decree of the President of Armenia as an auxiliary unit of the Ministry of Interior. New units, including Organized Crime Enforcement, Drug Enforcement, and Economic Crime departments were established within the police. The School of Police was reorganized into the Police Academy . Armenia joined the Interpol in 1992, and began to cooperate closely with its counterparts in foreign countries.
In 1996, the Ministry of Interior was merged with the Ministry of National Security, but these two agencies were separated in 1999.
The Law on the Police was passed by the Armenian National Assembly on April 16, 2001, and April 16 is now celebrated as the Police Day. In accordance with Armenia ‘s obligations under its accession to the Council of Europe, the Law on Police Service was passed on June 30, 2002, providing for the Ministry of Interior to be reorganized into the fully professional Police of the Republic of Armenia on January 1, 2003. The Penitentiary Division of the police was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry. The Fire Department was incorporated into the Emergency Management Department.
The following individuals served as Ministers of Interior in this period: Ashot Manucharian (March 1991 – December 1991), Valeri Poghosian (December 1991 – February 1992), Vanik Siradeghian (February 1992 – November 1996), Serge Sargsian (November 1996 – June 1999), Suren Abrahamian (June – November 1999), Haik Harutyunian (November 1999 – January 2003, reappointed Chief of the Armenian Police on January 1, 2003).
The Structure of the Police of the Republic of Armenia
The Police of the Republic of Armenia (hereinafter the PRA) is territorially divided into Central Headquarters, 11 Police Departments (one each for the City of Yerevan and 10 Provinces) that are further subdivided into 52 police precincts.
The PRA also includes the Interior Troops, Training and Education centers, as well as other auxiliary organizations.
The PRA Central Headquarters is at the top of the Police command structure, and is comprised of the Offices of the Chief, Deputy Chiefs, and specialized branches (Directorates and Divisions).
Among the operations branches are the Organized Crime Enforcement Directorate, Criminal Investigations Directorate, and Drug Enforcement Directorate. Other important branches are the Operations Staff, Investigations Directorate, Public Safety Directorate, Personnel (Human Resources) Directorate, Information Department, Public Relations and Press Directorate, Financial-Economic Directorate, Administrative Directorate, Road Inspection Directorate, Transportation Directorate, Passports and Visa Directorate, State Protection Directorate, National Central Bureau of Interpol, Criminal Forensics Directorate, Legal Directorate, Health Directorate, and others.
The activities of the Police are directed by the Chief of the Police, who is appointed by the President at the nomination of the Prime Minister. The Chief has one First Deputy and several Deputies, who are appointed by the President at the nomination of the Chief. The Commander of the Interior Troops is appointed by the President, and serves as ex officio Deputy Chief of the Police. Each of Deputy Chiefs is assigned a sphere of responsibility by the Chief of Police. The Chief is assisted by a group of Advisers to the Chief.
The uniforms of the police officers and the rules for wearing uniforms are set in the decree of the Cabinet dated 31.10.2002 and by the decree of the Chief of Police dated 15.04.2003.
The police personnel are armed primarily with Soviet-made firearms and ammunition, including Makarov and TT handguns, and AKS, AKM, and AK-74 automatic rifles.
Hierarchy of Titles (in descending order):
Chief of Police, Commander of Interior Troops, Deputy Chief of Police, Chief of Directorate and Chief of Provincial (City of Yerevan) Police Department, Deputy Chief of Directorate, Chief of Police Precinct, Deputy Chief of Precinct, Chief of Division, Deputy Chief of Division, Senior Investigator on Special Cases, Senior Operations Agent on Special Cases, Senior Inspector at large, Senior Inspector, Senior Investigator, Senior Operations Agent, Inspector, Investigator, Operations Agent, Junior Inspector, Senior Policeman, Junior Policeman.
Hierarchy of Ranks (in descending order):
Police Colonel General, Lieutenant General, Major General, Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Captain, Senior Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Junior Lieutenant, Senior Corporal, Corporal, Senior Sergeant, Sergeant, Junior Sergeant.
Police Awards and Medals
Police personnel can be awarded the following professional decorations: Medals “For Heroism,” “For Strengthening Law and Order,” “Continuous Police Service” of 1 st , 2 nd , and 3 rd rank, and “For Strengthening Cooperation;” honorary title “Dedicated Police Service;” badges “Dedicated Police Service,” “Excellent Police Service,” “Excellent Interior Troops Service” of 1 st and 2 nd rank; Certificate of Achievement by the Chief of Police.
At the recommendation of the Chief of Police, the President of the Republic can award the following national orders to the individual police officers: “Order of Homeland,” “Order of Valor,” and “Medal of Military Service.”