Functions of Police

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Police Functions

Examine the various perspectives of the policing functions from the local, state, and federal organizational levels.

Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) not only operate across the entire nation, but the agency also has agents serving abroad. In addition to this, the FBI is not a police agency, but an agency with jurisdiction to investigate any and all matters in which the United States is, or maybe an interested party (The Scope of Present Federal Activity, 1968). The Federal Bureau of Investigation limits its jurisdiction to laws pertaining to federal statues, including all federal statues not primarily assigned to other agencies. These include statues dealing with espionage, sabotage, treason, civil rights violation, the assault and murder of federal law enforcement officers, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, mail fraud, federally insured banks, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, and property (Hill, 1999).

In addition to these laws, some federal agencies offer helpful services to other local police agencies, including use of its vast fingerprint file, and a sophisticated crime laboratory that aids local police in testing and identifying evidence, such as hair, fiber, drugs, blood, and tire tracks. The FBI’s National Crime Information Center is a computerized network linked to local police departments by terminals. Through it, information vehicles reported stolen, wanted persons, guns reported stolen, and so on are made readily available to local law enforcement agencies (The Scope of Federal Activity,1968). The following agencies are also part of federal law enforcement:

1. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Investigates illegal drug use and carries out independent surveillance and enforcement activities to control the importation of narcotics (Hill, 2009).

2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Has jurisdiction over the sales and distribution of firearm, explosives, alcohol, and tobacco products (Hill, 2009).

3. U.S. Marshalls. Court officers who help implement federal court rulings, transport rulings, transport prisoners, and enforce court orders (Hill, 2009).

4. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Enforces violations of income, exise, stamp, and other tax laws. Its intelligence division actively pursues gamblers, narcotic dealers, and other violators who do not report their illegal financial gains as taxable income (Hill, 2009).

Federal police agencies do not have the order maintenance or peacekeeping duties typical of a local police department, which oftentimes causes controversy and sometimes civil disturbances. Last, the jurisdictions of some federal law enforcement agencies are extremely narrow. The United States Supreme Court Police for example provide protective and investigative services for the Supreme Court only (Framework for Assessing the Acquisition Function at Federal Agencies, 2006).

State police provide traffic and criminal law enforcement, as well as other services that are particular to the needs of that state government. Some of the functions of state police includes controlling traffic on the highway system, tracing stolen automobiles, and aiding in disturbances and crowd control (Pavone,1942). In states with large, powerful county sheriff’s departments, the state police functions are usually restricted to highway patrol. In others, where the county sheriff’s law enforcement role is limited, state police usually maintain a more active investigative and enforcement role and aid city and town police departments in criminal investigations Misner, 1960).

The local police are the workhorses of the law enforcement system in America. They perform many functions and tasks including, but not limited to: (1) Law enforcement-examples include burglary investigations, apprehending criminal perpetrators, serving warrants, or...
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