• A Sprinter, driving through the rocky countryside of the Faroes

    Odin riding a Sprinter: Police operation on the Faroe Islands.

    It’s quite something to be a policeman on the Faroe Islands. Why? Spend a day with us in the Sprinter 316 CDI and out in Police Inspector Heri Andreassen’s speedboat.

    Photos: Ralf Kreuels

An island of seasick Vikings.

According to legend, a fleet of Viking ships set sail around 800 A.D. from Norway, heading towards the islands. They let the seasick among them get out at the islands. You could say that this represents the actual settlement of the Faroe Islands. Heri Andreassen didn’t inherit much here – or at least, he thankfully doesn’t suffer from seasickness.

The Faroe Police Inspector is a professional diver and responsible for operations involving the seaworthy police speedboat around these rocky islands. And he needs to have a strong stomach as the sea can be pretty rough in this part of the world which is home to only 48,000 people.

The police out and about in their speedboat

Keeping watch on high seas.

The speedboat, a Polarcirkel 760 christened “Odin”, can accelerate extremely quickly up to almost 80 km/h thanks to its two powerful outboard engines. The boat is used to carry out alcohol and passport checks on sailing boats and motorboats that enter these waters. And also if political activists are out protesting without authorisation, against the traditional pilot whale killings in the Faroe fjords, for example, then Heri Andreassen and his team will be there.

International soccer match is major operation.

The 52-year old, with a mischievous grin, mostly works on land as one of the heads of the control centres in the capital town of Thorshavn. If a larger operation is on the cards, for example an international soccer match or in the event of a major road accident, then the officers jump into their two Sprinter and drive off to where they’re needed. While one Sprinter is primarily used to transport special forces, the other is used by the police officers as a mobile command centre. It also transports the speedboat crew and, whenever necessary, takes the boat itself by trailer safely to the water.

Sprinter brings speedboat to the water on a trailer

Everyone knows everyone on the islands.

It all sounds like an exciting job. But usually things are quiet and one of Andreassen’s most important management responsibilities is ensuring that his team is operatively prepared in case anything should happen – despite quiet times. The father of four children has continued to further qualify himself in training courses in Copenhagen.

And yet there is still a big difference between working as a policeman in Denmark in comparison to the Faroe Islands, says Andreassen, who has tried out both. “When I drive to a fatal road accident in Denmark, I won’t know the person. But here everyone knows everyone. That’s different and that weighs you down. You mourn together with the family.”

A Sprinter drives through a traditional village

Tradition and solidarity.

It’s not just police work but also many other areas of life that are different on the Faroes in comparison with Denmark, says Andreassen. “Just like the Danes, we are part of a modern society with all the amenities and securities, but our people have been living on the Islands for over 1,000 years. We have our own language, our own mentality and the way we live is closely connected with nature.” Another big difference is the sense of solidarity here. If you want to survive the harsh climate of the North Atlantic, you have to rely on each other.

A law-abiding pirate.

Only eight of the islands are connected by bridge or tunnel; the rest rely on regular ferry or helicopter services. The police get to their destination quickest by boat. And then the services of “Odin” and the Sprinter are called for. Not to forget the services of Heri Andreassen, who keeps a cool head and a strong stomach even in the face of a rough sea. Some of his colleagues tease him about his dark hair pointing to his ancestors going back to North African pirates, who were on the Faroes around the 1600s. “Maybe that’s why I don’t get seasick,” says Andreassen with a grin. “Pirates are never seasick.”

A Sprinter with fjord and mountains in the background