Volunteer Public Order Squads

Volunteer Public Order Squads


(narodnaia druzhina), in the USSR, a public nonprofessional organization that was established to fight crime, violations of public order, and infractions of the code of socialist communal living by anticipating and preventing violations, by doing educational work with unstable individuals, and by cooperating with state agencies in the preservation of public order, detecting crime, and tracking down criminals.

The volunteer public order squads were initiated in 1959 by Leningrad workers. On Mar. 2, 1959, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR passed a decree on the participation of the working people in the maintenance of public order, authorizing the establishment of squad units in factories and offices, on sovkhozes and kolkhozes, and in educational institutions and housing administrations. In 1959 and 1960, statutes on the squads were adopted in the union republics (for example, in the RSFSR on Mar. 30, 1960). In 1970 there were more than 100,000 members of the volunteer public order squads in the USSR.

The squads work under the leadership and control of party bodies in collaboration with militia bodies and are organized on a voluntary basis among advanced toiling people. Each unit is headed by a commander and a deputy commander, who are elected at a general assembly of the unit’s members. Organizations that have more than 100 members establish general staffs of their squad’s units. Cities and raions have city-wide or raion-wide general staffs to direct all the members of the squads. Each unit is responsible for cooperating with the militia in preserving public order in part of a city or in a subdivision of a raion. The main types of work done by the squads are patrolling (including joint patrols with the militia), guard and watch duty, and making raids. Squad members participate in campaigns to educate the public on the law. In rural localities they conduct nighttime checks of places where valuable materials are stored. Squads help the State Automobile Inspection to check motor vehicles for safety, direct traffic, and participate in campaigns to instruct the public on traffic laws.

A decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR of July 23, 1969, On Measures for Strengthening the Fight Against Crime established measures to encourage participation in the volunteer public order squads, particularly additional paid vacation and certificates of honor, monetary gifts, and valuable gifts for the best squads. The union republics distribute the lapel button “Outstanding Member of the Voluntary Public Order Squad.” The life, health, honor, and public esteem of the members of the squads are protected by law. The criminal codes of the RSFSR and the other union republics provide legal penalties for malicious refusal to obey a legal order or request by a member of the squads who is performing his official duties to maintain public order, as well as for resisting or insulting, showing disrespect for, or murdering or attempting to murder a squad member (Criminal Code of the RSFSR, art. 191. para. 1 and 2; art. 192, para. 1).


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