Bern debates new plan to allow non-Swiss residents to become police officers
The Green Liberal Party (GLP) in the Swiss city of Bern has announced a plan to allow expats with C-residence permits to join the police. In all but one canton, only Swiss citizens are allowed to work in the emergency services, something the party in Bern hopes to change.
GLP: Employing only Swiss people in the police is out of date
Speaking to 20 minuten, GLP councillor Thomas Brönnimann said the policy of only employing Swiss people in the police force was "no longer up to date." In the same way as "we have no problem with being treated by non-Swiss doctors," he argued that expat and international police officers would also be accepted by the wider population.
The proposal calls for applicants with C-permits - long-term residence permits typically given to those with jobs who have remained in the country for more than five years - to be allowed to join the police force in the de-facto capital of Switzerland.
Only Basel already employs expats in the police force
If passed, Bern would join Basel, which allowed residence permit holders to join the police in 1997. In a statement given to the Berner Zeitung, Basel police said that the scheme produced positive results, as "in certain situations, it is quite useful if the police officers are familiar with the cultural background of the clientele." Better language skills have also had a positive effect, authorities noted.
However, there may be some resistance, with Bern’s Government Council telling 20 minuten, "Naturalisation is the last and highest stage of successful integration of the foreign resident population. If you are interested in the police profession, naturalisation should also be reasonable for you.” The GLP's proposal will be discussed and voted on in the council’s autumn session.