- Policeman: Fräulein, you can't swim in this lake. It's illegal.Woman: Couldn't have told me that before I stripped naked?!
It is, similarly to US law enforcement, not a single entity, but a multitude of police forces operating both on regional (well, state) and national level. It used to be different, both under Those Wacky Nazis and East Germany, who once opted for highly centralized, paramilitary police forces (being ideal for autocratic states) rather than the quirky and freedom-loving lawmen they are nowadays.
Every German Land has its own police force, and then there are federal entities like the Bundespolizei,note the Bundeszollverwaltungnote and the Bundeskriminalamt.note
The Polizei doesn't necessarily share (or no longer shares) certain other countries' stereotypes of being overly violent, corrupt or even lazy (remember, they're German), but they are still gladly depicted as stuffy, pompous, ignorant, dictatorially bureaucratic and racist, in combination with not being terribly smart.
As for the "Thin Green Line"... While several German states historically had their policemen, gendarmes and soldiers wear green uniforms (Bavaria in particular), green became Germany's standardised police colour from 1936 to 1945, and again from the 1970s to the early 2000snote and consisted of hilarious bright green blazers, mustard-yellow shirts (earning them the unfortunate nickname Senfmännchen - Mustard Men), brown trousers and black ties.
After a uniform reform in 2004, each state got to choose their own uniforms; most opted for boring blue (including the Bundespolizei), and some for black (like Hamburg), but Bavaria and Saarland decided to stay green (though they did get rid of the ridiculous green blazers in favour of snazzy black leather jackets). As for many police vehicles - many still retained their greens and whites since repaint ing efforts lagged behind. As of 2017, Bavaria decided to go Austrian (of all things), adapting white caps, dark blue overalls with yellow lettering and pale blue lampasses.
It should be noted that the Verfassungsschutznote doesn't count, since it's already supposed to be Germany's domestic intelligence service. Neither do the Feldjäger, which are proper Military Police and hence Not The Wehrmacht.
Portrayals in popular media:
- Tatort is, naturally, all about the Polizei, and features investigative teams from State Polices all over Germany. Police are usually portrayed sympathetically, if "human" (i.e. almost none of them live Happily Married in domestic bliss)
- Alarm für Cobra 11: A show about the exciting and dramatic adventures of The Scrappy of Northrhine-Westphalia's police - the Autobahnpolizei.
- Then there also is Fringe, which features the "Wissenschaft Prison" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean) just outside of Frankfurt, a ridiculously high security prison (especially for German standards), which should technically be run by the Ministry of Justice, but instead comes off rather... uncomfortably militaristic. In any case, the guards there still wear green.
- The Avengers features Loki blowing up a Stuttgart (Württembergian) police car (oddly enough one with orange light signals, which are reserved for infrastructural and load-bearing vehicles) as it rushes towards his position.
- In Octopussy, James Bond gets in trouble with a slew of Bavarian cops when he steals a woman's car to break into a US base. Because GTA is Serious Business in Germany.
- There still is that old National Stereotypes joke that still gives the German police (an not entirely undeserved) reputation for dracony:
In heaven, all the policemen are British, all of the lovers are French, all of the chefs are Italian, all of the cars are German, and the whole thing is run by the Swiss.
- Babylon Berlin offers the late 1920s flavor of the City of Berlin police, focusing on the Sittendezernat (vice squad), Morddezernat (homicide squad) and the Politische Polizei (the Gestapo's and Verfassungsschutz' predecessor organisation).