Politiets Aktionsstyrke (AKS): Prime special unit of Denmark’s police

Eric Sof

The Politiets Aktionsstyrke or just AKS is the prime unit of Denmark’s police. Regular police duties often face difficulties, and in such a situation, there is a need for cavalry. In Denmark, Politiets Aktionsstyrke (English: The Special Intervention Unit) rolls out.

Introduction

Politiets Aktionsstyrke, or just AKS, is a special purpose unit of the Danish police and has a starring role as a national SWAT team trained in a wide range of anti-terrorist action operations. They are under the Danish Minister of Justice’s direct supervision while their activities are under the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET).

Their duties cover extraordinarily difficult or life-threatening criminal situations, such as terrorism, hostage situations, and kidnapping. The AKS is also tasked with emergency rescue situations that would be too dangerous for other law enforcement units to handle.

Politiets Aktionsstyrke AKS
The AKS during the PET’s joint exercise at an undisclosed location in Denmark (Photo: Pinterest)

That means that the main range of activities is focused on the fight against terrorism, the performance of the release of hostages, and resolving hostage situations. If anything happens in Denmark, the Politiets Aktionsstyrke handles that. They are responsible for all anti-terrorist missions in an area controlled by Denmark’s state.

Today, the AKS is orientated to various training types, which often includes cross-trainings with the Danish Army and Navy elite-units Jægerkorpset and Frømandskorpset.

Mission and duties

The PET Special Intervention Unit (AKS) is a specially trained unit that maintains the operational counter-terrorist response capacity. This unit’s task is to help fight terrorism and serious organized crime and provide sound options for the police to resolve complex intervention assignments.

AKS assignments comprise hostage rescue, counter-terrorism efforts, high-risk arrests, and complex intervention assignments. In certain situations, the tasks are solved in close cooperation with the Danish Armed Forces units, assisting with both personnel and equipment.

Alongside the regular duties in the domestic fight against terrorism, they could be defined and sorted in the other way as

  • Counter sniper operations
  • Forced entry operations
  • The apprehension of armed suspects
  • The apprehension of barricaded suspects
  • Force protection during deployment
  • VIP protection

History

The Politiets Aktionsstyrke‘s operational functions are closely guarded secrets, and so far, there is not so much publicly released information. What has been published is that the AKS was created just after the Munich Summer Olympic incident in 1972.

At the moment of creation, the unit had around 50 to 70 operators. In 1998, the unit was reorganized, and the number of operators was increased to 100.

AKS police SWAT unit
Members of Politiets Aktionsstyrke looking for a suspect in the city’s capital (Photo: Pinterest)

During the time, the unit had dozens of operations. They were responsible for the notorious operation of clearing and evicting the anarchist and leftist groups from Ungdomshuset on March 1, 2007, which triggered mass unrest in Copenhagen.

On January 7, 2013, another significant operation occurred when an operator from AKS was seriously wounded during an arrest operation against three suspected narcotics smugglers. The alleged perpetrator was killed by a headshot while another suspect was wounded in the shootout. A third suspect was arrested. It was the first time that an AKS operator had been wounded during an operation.

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Selection and training

The unit adopted the Western model of organization similar to the German GSG 9. New candidates are chosen from police and army personnel during an intensive volunteer selection course.

Equipment

Politiets Aktionsstyrke operators are armed with the most modern small arms, assault rifles, snipers, shotguns, and other special weapons intended for such a unit. Their arsenal features a wide range of western firearms, including Glock 17, Glock 19, Heckler and Koch MP5, USP Compact, C8 rifle, Heckler and Koch G36c, Sako TRG sniper rifle, and many others.

Quick facts

Politiets Aktionsstyrke
Country: Denmark
Agency: Government of Denmark, Rigspolitiet
Active: 1972 – present
Motto:
Type: Police Tactical Unit
Role: Counter-terrorism, Law enforcement
Headquarters: Copenhagen
Size: approx. 100 operators
Notable operations:
Abbreviation: AKS