What are the Different Law Enforcement Agencies?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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Law enforcement agencies work at the local, state, and federal levels to keep order and protect citizens. Police personnel attend at accident scenes and other emergencies, conduct search and rescue operations, and educate the public about safety and other matters. The job of a police officer is one that requires a person to be physically and mentally fit, as well as of good character.

City police forces are just one example of law enforcement agencies. Officers and detectives have jurisdiction within the city limits to enforce the law and investigate local crimes. Law enforcement agencies also include state police forces. This force has jurisdiction over the entire state, and is usually responsible for law enforcement on state highways. State police departments may offer training to recruits for forces that are too small to perform this function themselves, as well as provide protection services to the state governor.

The state police may operate a water unit, known as the Marine Patrol, Harbor Patrol, or Water Police. These police officers are responsible for public safety on lakes and rivers. They provide safety information to boaters as well as investigating crimes that take place on or near the water. Search and rescue or search and recovery operations are part of the Marine Patrol's duties, and some of their officers may have dive training to perform these duties.


Branches of the military have their own law enforcement personnel. Military police are a special police force that investigates crimes involving servicemen and women. In some countries, the local police force is one that has jurisdiction over members of the military, as well as civilians. An example of this type of law enforcement is the French Gendarmerie.

Federal law enforcement agencies are involved in border security and national security functions. Customs officers are responsible for enforcing customs regulations, as well as other federal laws. They have the power to turn away prospective visitors who are attempting to enter the country illegally, seize contraband entering or leaving their country, and ensuring that the correct amount of duties are collected on imports.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an example of a federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for investigating a number of types of criminal offenses, including cybercrime, organized crime, terrorism, and white-collar crime. This agency is also responsible for investigating allegations of public corruption, major thefts, and violent crimes. The FBI also provides laboratory services to other law enforcement agencies nationwide.


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Post 2

I'm glad that cybercrime and what's known as "white collar" crime is getting more attention now, but I wish the penalties for it were harsher, particularly the white collar crime.

Even though the FBI gets involved, and you'd think that would mean serious business, often the people involved get off with only a few years worth of prison. And these are people who might have destroyed thousands of livelihoods from simple greed.

It sucks that a desperate person who holds up a service station with a knife might get 20 years in jail, and a guy who steals money from elderly people and leaves them to die from lack of funds for heating their houses only gets a few measly months.

Which is not a gripe against the law enforcement agencies in the United States, but just a call for more justice after they have done their jobs.

Post 1

It took me a while to realize that a detective is a rank within the police force. I only realized it when I was watching Dexter, a TV show which follows some people in the Miami police force, and one of them was promoted from an officer to a detective.

Up until that point, I always associated the word detective with "private eye" so I thought it was an individual working alone.

I guess that they do have work in common, and often private eyes are shown as lone wolf policemen who were kicked off the force for some reason.

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