The word "police" has roots in the Ancient Greek word "polis" which means "city." Citizens have been chosen to police their neighbors for centuries; Ancient China relied on prefects to keep the peace whilst Ancient Greece utilized slaves for various duties associated with modern police forces. The Romans had a corps of Vigiles Urbani, or city watchmen, who would carry out both policing and fire-fighting duties due to the size of the sprawling ancient city. Britain's Metropolitan Police Service (London) often claims to be the oldest modern police force still in operation, dating back to 1829 although there are older departments, such as the Saint Petersburg Police (Russia) which was formed in 1718.
The list that follows has been collated purely by the total size of the police force in each country (which makes the No. 1 and No. 2 spots pretty unsurprising). However, when the police force is calculated as the amount of police per 100,000 people, it's actually the tiny state of the Vatican City that comes out on top, with an incredible ratio of 15,625 police per 100,000 people - although the actual force numbers just 130 officers, which is the same size as the New York City Department of Sanitation Police! The NYPD as a whole employs 34,500 uniformed officers.
The top two spots on this list have police forces that number over 1.5 million, but per 100,000 people neither of them has a ratio greater than 130 officers. Other occupants of this top 10 list offer their citizens more security with over 500 officers per 100,000 people. But is it really greater security - or simply a step closer to being a police state? The UN suggests a minimum police officer ratio of at least 222 per 100,000 people, so it's perhaps best to avoid countries like Mali (48 per 100,000) or Niger (58 per 100,000) if you find the presence of a police uniform comforting.
10 Pakistan: 354,221 police officers
9 Nigeria: 371,800 police officers
8 Turkey: 412,624 police officers
7 Brazil: 478,001 police officers
6 Mexico: 544,000 police officers
5 Indonesia: 579,000 police officers
4 Russia: 782,001 police officers
3 USA: 794,300 police officers
2 India: 1,585,353 police officers
1 China: 1,600,000 police officers
China has an estimated police population of 1.6 million, with the People's Armed Police (PAP) numbering between 1.1 and 1.5 million alone (not including the Judicial Police or State Security Police). Chinese police officers have to deal with 1.3 billion people, so there is a low ratio of just 120 law enforcement personnel per 100,000 Chinese citizens. Corruption is an endemic problem; it has been documented that police stations have even been used as gambling houses with officers augmenting their salaries through bribes and protection services. Even a former head of the police services, Zhou Yongkang, has recently been arrested and faces charges of corruption.
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