University of Phoenix
CJ/394 – Criminal Organizations
February 13th, 2013
Law enforcement in the United States is a very unique component of the criminal justice system. Police Officers are thought to be the guardians of the gate; however, there are different levels of law enforcement that police cities, counties, and states. Law enforcement is broken down into different agencies. According to Grant and Terry (2008, p.13-15) four levels of law enforcement exist in the United States; Most cities and counties have their own municipal and county law enforcement agencies which include city police and sheriff departments such as the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Each state has its level of law enforcement as well; example of state law enforcement agencies include the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Warden. On the federal level agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are accountable for all federal jurisdiction. Briefly, this report will outline the various perspectives of policing as they apply to the various agencies of law enforcement in the United States. Since the inception of the United States common laws, rules, and regulations have been enacted to preserve society; this report will identify and outline possible changes in current laws. In addition, the impact of possible changes as they apply to policing will be underlined.
Levels of Policing
Municipal and County
As mentioned earlier, law enforcement in the United States is broken up to different levels and categories. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2013), United States local law enforcement makes up two-thirds of 18,000 law enforcement agencies. The first level of policing consist of the municipal and county law enforcement agencies. The aforementioned level of law enforcement is the majority of policing in the United States. Local and county law enforcement officials are by far the most depended on agency in society throughout the United States.
Municipal law enforcement agencies are often seen patrolling neighborhoods, responding to calls for service or enforcing traffic laws. According to Grant and Terry (2008, p.13), “Large local law enforcement agencies often are responsible for investigating serious violent and property crimes in their jurisdictions, compared to half of state agencies (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2000).” In addition to the many duties that are bestowed on to the police, local law enforcement is called upon for non-emergency and non-essential law enforcement needs. An example of the aforementioned is a call for service because a cat is stuck in a tree; again the call is non-emergency, however it is a call for service that officers respond to daily.
County level policing usually consists of the Sheriff’s Department; however, Grant and Terry (2008, p.13) suggest some counties do have a larger police force that would account for the jurisdiction of a county. Grant and Terry (2008, p.13) state, “in some jurisdictions this office is dissolved into a county police force that functions much the same as municipal police.” Typically the Sheriff’s Office assumes jurisdiction in larger unincorporated areas; the scope of their duties revolve around enforcing court orders, court summons, or working the county jails. In some counties, the Sheriff’s Department’s functioning purpose is to provide police services much like a regular police agency, Grant and Terry (2008, p.13-14). Grant and Terry (2008, p.14) states, “In some jurisdictions, the sheriff’s office is entirely law enforcement focused, with no other responsibilities.” State
In addition to the local and county police, each state has its own category of law enforcement. In the state of California the...