Let's say I want to call a policeman, or I am in a n-person conversation involving a policeman and I want a word to refer to the policeman. And let's say I want a respectful word.

I believe おまわりさん could sound a bit insulting (low rank).
Should I say 警察さん?
Is there a more respectful way to call a policeman, who actually might be an officer?

  • 2
    「警察さん」 sounds far more insulting than 「おまわりさん」. Sep 23 '14 at 12:36

I do not think there is anything insulting with お巡りさん: I've definitely heard it said to koban people to their face by people with no ill-intent.

But it's also a term that specifically refers to koban-type cops (literally means "person on the beat"). Perhaps not higher-up officers or detectives.

For something more formal and more respectful, how about: 警察官 (police officer)

There's also 警察の職員 (police personnel), but that's really generic and maybe not what you need in your context.

  • 3
    "刑事さん" is also OK if you know he is a detective (typically wearing a black suit and a tie, rather than the blue uniform). If you want to refer to the police officer in general but don't know the specific title, you can use "警察の方【かた】".
    – naruto
    Sep 24 '14 at 6:38

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