Police Department Roles and Functions
University of Phoenix
CJA/214 - Introduction to Police Theory and Practices
January 21, 2013
Police Department Roles and Functions
Every policing department or agency has a set of organizational goals and values that provide officers with a sense of direction and purpose. Even though these various departments may have different functions, policing agencies have similar roles. The roles of police include:
The prevention of crime and protection of life
To uphold and enforce the law
To combat public fear of crime
To promote community safety
To control traffic
To encourage respect for the law
To protect the civil rights and liberties of individuals
The law determines what functions and roles police will have and dictates how they are to go about fulfilling these roles. The police have restrictions and guidelines to abide by.
Levels of Law Enforcement
“Police services are provided by four different levels of government: city, county, state, and federal(Walker & Katz, 2011, Chapter 3.” The local level consists of municipal police, county police, and county sheriffs. The departments within the local level have jurisdiction over their respective counties or cities with limited jurisdiction outside those areas. At the state level there are state police such as the highway patrol. State level departments have jurisdiction within their state only. The highway patrol only has jurisdiction over the highways and interstates within their state. Federal level agencies have jurisdiction across the entire country. At the federal level there are 17 federal law enforcement agencies which include but are not limited to the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Security Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Secret Service. Also at the federal level is Military law enforcement (Walker & Katz, Chapter 3, 2011). Military law enforcement only has jurisdiction on the base to which they are assigned to.
The primary difference between Federal and state law enforcement agencies jurisdiction. Federal law enforcement enforces Federal law. State and local Police enforce state and local laws. Federal agents cannot enforce state laws and state policing agencies have authority in their state only.
A patrol is a group of personnel, such as police officers who are assigned to monitor a specific geographic area. Patrol is often referred to as the “backbone of policing.” The patrol officer serves many functions, which include crime fighter, mediator, social worker, and service provider (Grant & Terry, Chapter 6, 2012). The objectives of patrol include:
Protection and defense of lives and property
Repression of criminal and delinquent behavior
Identification, apprehension, and conviction of offenders
Traffic flow and collision reduction
Maintenance of order and public safety
These objectives are broken down into three types of interactions: Information gathering, conflict resolution, and maintenance or restoration of control.
Types of Patrol
There are four different types of patrol. These types are random or routine, directed, aggressive, and saturation. Each type of control has a different degree of effectiveness.
Random, or Routine patrol occurs when officers assigned to an area move about in an unsystematic way. The goals of random patrol are to detect and deter crime through police presence. This type of patrol is also called preventative patrol. Officers engaged in random patrol are relied upon to respond to 911 calls to lessen response time.
“Directed patrol focuses on targeted hot spots, crime problems, and or offenders” (Grant &...
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