The first titled chief of police was hired in Trondheim in 1686, thus creating the first police district, although his jurisdiction only covered the city proper.
Chiefs of police were hired in Bergen in 1692, Christiania (Oslo) in 1744 and Christianssand in 1776.
The police force in Norway was established during the 13th century.
Originally the 60 to 80 sheriffs (lensmann) were predominantly used for writ of execution and to a less degree police power.
Some received jurisdiction over both cities and rural areas, other just rural areas.
At the same time the existing police districts were expanded to include the surrounding rural areas.
The Governor of Svalbard acts as chief of police for Svalbard.
Norwegian police officers do not carry firearms, but keep their Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns and Heckler & Koch P30 pistols locked down in the patrol cars.
The reform eliminated the difference between the rural and city police forces; yet the sheriffs were only subordinate to the chief of police in police matters—in civil matters and administration they remained under the county governors.
It consists of a central National Police Directorate, seven specialty agencies and twelve police districts.
The government agency is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and has 16,000 employees, of which 8,000 are police officers.
This was confusing for the public, resulting in the police services reorganizing to a homogenous organization during the 1980s, whereby the civil tasks being organized as part of the police stations.
The National Police Directorate, located in Downtown Oslo, is the central administration for the Norwegian Police Service.