A certain sprawling empire in a world like ours recently overcame a revolution instigated by the Civilian Government (imagine the UK Parliament overthrowing the Crown). In this revolution, the Municipal Guard participated heavily on the rebelling Parliament's side and was eventually crushed afterward. The Emperor won the war and removed the institution of Parliament, making the Empire essentially absolutist.

In order to replace this police force until the Empire could restore complete order and rebuild the nation, the Emperor's personal bodyguard was expanded to become the interim police force for the whole country.

It was expected to maintain order and immediately arrest anyone on the slightest suspicion of treason. A decade passed and the still-overworked absolutist government had yet to pass and implement a law to create a new police force.

I'd like to know how efficient this would be...

  • $\begingroup$ They would need to hire thousands of people for a starter. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Sep 18, 2017 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ I don't get it. Did the Emperor defeat the Parliament, and in this case who is the Government and why are they able to pass laws? Or did the Parliament defeat the Emperor, and in this case why does the Emperor still have a large Praetorian Guard and why is the Government passing laws instead of the Parliament? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 18, 2017 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ How do you measure efficiency in this scenario? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 18, 2017 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


In the short term, everyone in this police force is going to be new. That's not going to be very efficient at all. Even ten years later, I question if the government would have had a chance to introduce a strong training program.

A bodyguard detail is the wrong training model for a police force. It would tend to be strong on handling immediate threats and weak on handling longer term issues. I.e. if someone is on the street spouting off, that is a visible threat. People plotting mayhem is not and would be harder for the bodyguards to investigate. They would also tend to miss things like organized crime. And they would probably have trouble with detecting lying.

Of course, medieval police forces weren't that great. It's unclear how far along your world is. After all, they have an emperor with a bodyguard and enough military control to put down a rebellion. Most modern monarchies would not be able to do that. I can't see the United Kingdom or Sweden allowing an unpopular monarch to cause problems. That suggests that we're talking about something more like 1917 Russia. So perhaps the decline in police effectiveness would not be that great.

At ten years, some people should be considering the possibility of not creating a new police force. Perhaps it would be better to fix this one with a real training program. Or maybe the new police force organization could start the new training program. People should be considering those options at this point.


What is most likely going to happen is that they'll hire thousands of people "of the right sort" as auxiliaries to maintain order in the short term. These people will be selected based on loyalty to the regime rather than experience, with the idea that the Guard will step in to resolve complaints. Effectively, the country will be under martial law enforced by a militia. We have seen this before, both after the Bolshevik Revolution, which eventually led to the formation of the KGB and in the SS in Nazi Germany.

Soon enough, the militia will figure out if they can prevent the public complaining, they can get away with anything, so a) they'll intimidate people to scare them off complaining, b) pick their targets, so as not to annoy actually influential people and c) collaborate with the Guard to make sure complaints actually made go nowhere.

In 10 years' time, you'll have a police state with 2 layers of police, the public face: utterly incompetent bullies; and the secret police: they'll show up in the middle of the night and you'll simply disappear.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree, that's pretty much how it has played out $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Sep 18, 2017 at 9:43

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