University of Phoenix
April 10, 2013
Law Enforcement Organization
There are close to 18,000 different police agencies operating in the United States today. These different police agencies all fulfill a role in the criminal justice system. To manage the sheer scale of operating these agencies they are broken down into different levels, branches of government, and jurisdiction. The scale of these agencies can be seen as a progressive stair case starting with the lowest level, the local agencies, and working its way up to the federal agencies. Their collective primary goal is enforce the law, maintain order, and ensure public safety. They do not determine guilt in long trials, nor do they create law. Instead these collective agencies are more focused on working within the general population instead of working on behalf of the general population.
The first level of a police agencies are those that are at the local level. Even the local level can be broken down further to agencies operating at the municipal level, county level, and tribal agencies. Municipal police or city police are those agencies responsible for law enforcement with in their city boundary. These agencies car vary in size from 1 officer to 30,000 officers. Municipal police are generally tasked with traffic enforcement, patrol, and depending on the resources available they are also tasked with criminal investigations. Next is the county sheriff and deputy sheriffs. Most of the sheriff positions are elected officials serving 2 to 4 year terms. The county agencies are responsible for law enforcement within the boundaries of their respective counties. They are tasked with similar duties as those of municipal police, and can also provide help to smaller municipal agencies. The Next level up from local agencies are the state agencies. Some states use a state police agency, like Texas or Massachusetts, these agencies are responsible for law enforcement at the state level. Most are tasked with highway patrol and statewide investigations. The state police execute search warrants in some states and help responded to situations where the local police do not have the resources available. Some states only have a highway patrol like here in Colorado. The highway patrol is responsible for enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstates. The investigative side of law enforcement is normally handled by a state bureau of investigations. 23 states employ a state police force, while the rest employ a highway patrol with the exception of Hawaii which has no state agency. The final level of police agencies In America are those that operate at the federal level. There are currently 65 federal agencies operating today in the country. These different agencies have various responsibilities ranging from law enforcement, border patrol, customs, taxes, and corrections. The most commonly known agencies are the FBI, ICE, Boarder Patrol, ATF, and the Marshals. Agencies like the FBI are tasked with investigating crimes at the federal level these can include crimes that violate federal law, interstate crime rings, and terrorism. Each agency has a specific role to play in investigations. The ATF for example investigate crimes related to illegal use or manufacturing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and arson. While agencies like the DEA are tasked with drug trafficking prevention and investigation. Different agencies fall under different departments of government, for example the FBI and DEA fall under the Department of Justice under the executive branch of government. While agencies like the IRS fall under the Department of the Treasury. Each of the agencies has a role to fill and their domain to maintain, but they must also work in conjunction with the different components of the criminal justice system. The police agencies are not the only source working and governing in the criminal