The generic word for police in Vietnam is cảnh sát, but not all types of police can be described using this term.
Those police officers wearing green uniforms are the Công An – their name translates to “keepers of the public peace”. As an ex-pat, you can seek the Cong An’s help for issues like theft, noise pollution, getting a criminal record check etc.
Vietnam’s equivalent of SWAT are the CSCD (Cảnh Sát Cơ Động). These police officers respond to terrorism threats and riots, as as both of these are very rare in Vietnam, you don’t often see the CSCD on the streets.
The traffic police (Cảnh Sát Giao Thông) are the police we see on our way to work. Their uniforms are a creamy camel colour. They’re the most visible of the police forces and their job is to ensure drivers comply with road safety rules such as wearing helmets and stopping at red lights. They also help out when there’s a traffic flow problem. If you’re involved in a traffic accident, the CSGT can help you.
Photo sources: Getty images; Bao Thua Thien Hue; Thanh Nien News