“It is hard to imagine Cracow today without its municipal guard force and not only when it comes to securing important celebrations or visits, but also mass events. The municipal guard also performs many minor tasks, practically unnoticeable for the city’s residents, but important for their everyday comfort," says the Mayor of Cracow, Mr. Jacek Majchrowski.

The Municipal “chaps," or the respected and esteemed by the city’s residents 

On June 5, 1257, Cracow formally became a city. It was then that Duke Bolesław V the Chaste [Wstydliwy], in Kopernia near Sandomierz, issued the founding document of the already existing settlement, basing it - which is extremely important - on the so-called  Magdeburg law. 

This law expressly obliged the authorities of the newly established town to undertake organized activities to maintain safety and order. Such care for the residents and their property led to the establishment of the first municipal guards, which served the residents of Krak’s stronghold for many centuries. 

From historical times to the present

Centuries passed until we reached the 20th century. In the early 1990s, due to democratic changes in Poland’s political system, self-governments were revived. 

Municipalities [Pol.: gminy] were established as the fundamental and only lynchpin of local self-governments. Municipal councils were elected and assigned numerous public-service tasks, including those related to public order. Mayors and city presidents were given tools that enabled them to perform these tasks. One of them was the ability to set up municipal guards. 

This right was exercised by the authorities of Cracow. On April 2, 1991, under the regulation of the then Mayor Krzysztof Bachmiński, the present Municipal Guard of Cracow was established. 

The basis for its activities were the provisions of the Act of April 6, 1990, on the Police force and the statute agreed with the Minister of Internal Affairs. However, the need for changes was quickly noticed. It is interesting to note that representatives of the Cracow Municipal Police, the scientific community of the Jagiellonian University, and Cracow’s local government officials contributed to the improvement of the municipal guard’s legal status. 

Cracow’s municipal guard recorded its contribution not only towards the creation of the Act on Municipal Guards. Few people know that the uniforms worn by the Polish municipal guards were designed in Cracow.

The first headquarters of the guard became the Cracow magistrate’s office. Six months later, the seat was moved to a building at Rynek Podgórski 2. The unit employed 155 people, 145 of whom wore uniforms. The municipal guards had 13 cars and 38 radio receivers/transmitters at their disposal. 

At the very beginning, the municipal guards dealt almost exclusively with order and cleanliness in public places. Their most important tasks included counteracting the improper parking of cars and illegal street trade. 

However, over the years, the number of interventions reported to the municipal guards grew, and the profile of cases brought to the duty officers changed. It soon turned out that the residents saw the opportunity to solve their most challenging issues with the local authorities and its departments. 

An important day in the history of the municipal force was August 29, 1997. It was then that the Act on Municipal Guards was passed, regulating the tasks and powers of municipal guards. This day is considered to be the official holiday of this uniformed formation. 

“The Municipal Guard is one of many institutions that take care of order and safety. I am referring to the Police, the Fire Brigade, Ambulance Service, and other entities operating in this area. That is why I want to thank you for these 30 years of friendly cooperation and mutual support. I am convinced that without this cooperation and collaboration, the effects of our efforts would be much more modest," said Commander Jerzy Mądrzyk. 

In recent years the range of duties of the municipal guards has been considerably broadened, initially from the protection of public order to a wide range of issues, including traffic, prevention, ecology, control of heating stoves and waste burning, the fight against the public use of vulgar language and pseudo-graffiti, and a number of other matters. 

“It should be emphasized that in the last 30 years, the municipal guards have faced a clear dilemma between the growing expectations of the townspeople and the unchanged and incompatible - with modern times - powers and legal framework of activity. Therefore it is important to fill the existing contradictions and gaps in the law so that it would be possible to respond effectively to real law enforcement issues. This would certainly increase the effectiveness of the municipal guard officers,” stated Commandant Jerzy Mądrzyk