Law Enforcement Agencies and Organizations

Role of Local, State, and Federal Police Agencies 

Law Enforcement agencies are organized into geographic districts, which includes town, city, county, State or Federal agencies. Their duties vary depending on the size and type of the organization. 

Branches of Police Department

Police organizations are agencies that provide law enforcement for towns, cities and state agencies. Each police department comprises of the following:

  • Department head: Police Chief and/or Commissioner
  • Station commanders and Desk Sergeants
  • Police Administrators
  • Evidence unit
  • Special Reaction Team
  • Special Weapons and Tactical Team
  • Detectives and investigators units
  • Uniform police officers and/or patrols

Detectives, who are often called agents or special agents, perform investigative duties such as gathering facts and collecting evidence.

Uniformed police officers have general law enforcement duties, including maintaining regular patrols and responding to calls for service. Much of their time is spent responding to calls and doing paperwork. They may direct traffic at the scene of an accident, investigate a burglary, or give first aid to an accident victim. In large police departments, officers usually are assigned to a specific type of duty. Many urban police agencies are involved in community policing—a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime..

Sheriff and Deputy Sheriffs enforce the law on the county level. Sheriffs are usually elected to their posts and perform duties similar to those of a local or county police chief. Sheriffs’ departments tend to be relatively small, most having fewer than 50 sworn officers. Deputy sheriffs have law enforcement duties similar to those of officers in urban police departments. 

State Police or State Troopers arrest criminals Statewide and patrol highways to enforce motor vehicle laws and regulations. State police officers often issue traffic citations to motorists. At the scene of accidents, they may direct traffic, give first aid, and call for emergency equipment. They also write reports used to determine the cause of the accident. State police officers are frequently called upon to render assistance to other law enforcement agencies, especially those in rural areas or small towns. 

Fish and game wardens enforce fishing, hunting, and boating laws. They patrol hunting and fishing areas, conduct search and rescue operations, investigate complaints and accidents, and aid in prosecuting court cases.

Federal Law Enforcement

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, Drug enforcement Agencies (DEA), Fire Arms and Tobacco Agency (FTA), U.S. Marshals and deputy marshals, Bureau of Diplomatic Security Special Agents are examples of the Federal Government role in many areas of law enforcement.

Government’s principal investigators, responsible for investigating violations of more than 200 categories of Federal law and conducting sensitive national security investigations. Agents may conduct surveillance, monitor court-authorized wiretaps, examine business records, investigate white-collar crime, or participate in sensitive undercover assignments. The FBI investigates a wide range of criminal activity, including organized crime, public corruption, financial crime, bank robbery, kidnapping, terrorism, espionage, drug trafficking, and cyber crime. 

Other Federal agencies employ police and special agents with sworn arrest powers and the authority to carry firearms. These agencies include the Postal Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement, the Forest Service, and the National Park Service.