police fragmentation

Topics: Police, Law enforcement agency, United States Pages: 5 (1356 words) Published: December 8, 2013


Police Fragmentation
The Nature of Policing in the United States will constantly change based on certain events that happen. The government will always look for ways to adjust, trying to make policing more efficient, fair, and effective. Unlike policing in other countries, the structure of policing in the United States is extremely fragmented. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are currently 21,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the United States. In different levels of the government, there are thousands of different agencies that are responsible for specific tasks. Due to a high amount of different law enforcement agencies, it will always raise a concern on “what works” and “what does not work”.             In recent years, the structure of American policing has dramatically changed.  In today’s society crimes such as drugs, murders, rapes and cyber crimes are at an all time high and much care and respect has to be given to the chain of command. From 1980 to now law enforcement agencies have had to reform and reconstruct how day to day business is conducted. There must be clear and concise lines drawn as to who is in the chain of command so that proper actions can be taken when needed. Heightened awareness of new era crimes has drastically evolved in the last thirty years, factors such as gang activity, increased drug use and internet crimes have changed law enforcement as a whole leading to policy and procedure changes.  In the 1980s and the early 1990s gang and drug activity became an epidemic and law enforcement agencies were forced to create special gang and drug task force units to specifically concentrate on these crimes. Although gangs already existed, they seemed to have become more widespread throughout the nation and they were even emerging in small communities. During this era the drug trafficking played a major role in the increased gang activity in already existing larger gangs it also played a role in the creation of many smaller gangs, and no drug has had as much of an impact. Other horrific events have shaped the way law enforcement is now structured, for example, the terrorist attack on 9/11 has had a major impact on policing. Immediately, the department of Homeland Security was created initially to protect American citizens from the possibility of terrorist attacks and ways to counter react to them during the year of 2002.                Law enforcement agencies at different levels of government have different responsibilities and tasks that they must accomplish. The local police are the most visible to the public and they include municipal police departments, county police departments, and county sheriffs. These departments have the broadest functions, enforcing criminal laws, maintaining order, and reducing conflict. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were approximately 14,000 municipal police forces in the United States. Based on the local level, there is also law enforcement at the county level. These agencies are titles “sheriff’s office”, and these departments serve all three branches of law enforcement. They are responsible for providing bail, serving summonses, and other civil law matters. Like the local law enforcement agency, state law enforcement agencies are also divided into two categories. Almost half of the state law enforcement agency is mostly responsible for traffic enforcement on the state highways. The remainder generally has other law enforcement responsibilities. State level police agencies include U.S. attorneys which serve as the nations principal litigators under the direction of the attorney general. Most states also include other law enforcing organizations with limited powers, such as harbor police, airport police, school district police, etc. In general, state agencies are responsible for providing police services in...

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Cordner, Gary. “The Architecture of U.S. Policing: Variations among the 50 States,” Police
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