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Law enforcement is a collective term which describes all agencies of the law that are devoted to upholding and enforcing laws and statutes that are in force. Law enforcement agencies are many in number but a game of numbers that have been played has a significant importance to the citizens. The real goal of law enforcement is to uphold and enforce law and order and protecting all citizens against illegitimate acts. Law enforcement officials are divided into sub-divisions for instance; there are those who focus on regional law, and at the same time others focus more on national laws. In additional to enforcing laws, law enforcement also manages punishment course of action for those convicted of crimes.
Law enforcement has two major objectives. First, law enforcement officials seek to prevent occurrence of unlawful acts which in some way are detrimental to the citizens. The second objective is ensuring that people who are suspects of crimes are investigated and tried in a way that falls in line with the predetermined law. Law enforcement officials are also supposed to hand over a retribution which is considered equitable for the crime committed.
Law enforcement force of United States is one amongst the three components of criminal justice system. It lies along with judiciary and correction arms of law. These forces operate independently of the other. In addition, judiciary has more powers over the two because it is vetted with power of making legal determinations in regard to the conducts of the two. In addition to upholding and enforcing law and order, policing has the credibility to conduct an investigation of suspected criminals and referring investigations to the courts.
In addition, law enforcement forces at different levels of governance and unlike agencies are commonly responsible for deterring criminal activities and preventing successful progressing crimes. In addition they are also charged with other responsibilities such as; providing quick responses to emergencies and other incidences that pose a threat to public safety, protecting public facilities, government and senior officials, public infrastructure and maintenance of public order in public ceremonies.
However, police force is the major law enforcement agency in a country. Historically in the United States of America, the force was started in 1626 through foundation of New York Sheriffs Office in New York City. In 1635, another force was founded in Boston town. In Boston, it is said to have started as a night watch security group over criminal activities that were distressing to the public in the town.
In 1835 the security group became a police department and after the success of these security forces a modern police department was founded in New York City in 1845. Earlier to this time police forces were not respected by the public because of corruption. As time went by, police forces increased to all other states in the country. Later on in early 20th century, police forces were provided with important facilities such as police cars, radio calls and other police facilities were introduced into the force to enhance their performance (Neocleous, 2004).
In the same period, centralization of policing law enforcement officers was made. This was made through an idea from August Vollmer who by then was a police chief in Berkeley, California. He was a military officer before joining the force and also an official in criminal justice in Europe. It this earlier experience that is thought to have made him come up with the idea. This improved the policing monitoring and control in the states.
In addition, he spearheaded establishment of centralized police recording system from all over the states that led to efficient organization of criminal investigation activities. Additionally, he is said to have innovated a lie detector in the police force that helped in investigating suspected criminals of law. Later on police commanders felt the need to train their police officers after recruitment so as to improve performance and this led to establishment of police training institutes.
In 1960s, American law enforcement was improved by additional shifts and agencies at a time when government focused more on community issues. This was due to arouse of racial apprehension and urban conflict in the midst of the Americans. The law enforcement was forced to increase its diversity by hiring more officials so as to containment the situation. In 1990s, community policing agency was introduced. This agency was introduced in a belief that community relations would help to recognize suspects and call the attention to problems facing communities.
In the United States of America, policing law enforcement is done by various types of agencies and at various levels. There are mainly three types of law enforcement officers; local, state and federal. They have various jurisdictions, rules and requirements. They function independently of the other but in some cases they are forced to cooperate. Each state of the United States of America has its own constituted rules and nomenclature for agencies. Their powers, responsibilities vary from state to state except for the federal force.
Federal police have been empowered to uphold and enforce law at the federal level it is the most powerful law enforcement agency operating within the country. In one way or the other they also maintain law and public order at state and local level as well. They are charged with the mandate by various parts of United States Code, to only carrying out investigations which are explicitly under the power of federal government.
Passage of USA Patriot act in 2001, broadened the investigative powers of federal police. The act led to the formation of a new permanent police force called United States Secret Service Uniformed Division. The force is subject to supervision of secretary of Homeland Security. It is empowered to make arrests without warrant for offences which are against the law but the said offence must be committed in their presence\ or for felony recognized under the law of the United States of America.
Federal police department have numerous sub-divisions that have different responsibilities. These include the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, U.S Marshals Service, State Department of Diplomatic Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal police force agency which lies under United States Department of Justice. The force was established in 1973 a result of Reorganization Plan which was signed by President Nixon in 1973. The plan proposed formation of a federal agency which would enforce and uphold drug laws and coordinate government's drug containment activities. As a result federal offices which included Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement among others merged and formed the force.
Since its formation, its head offices were located in Washington DC but later it was relocated to Arlington, Virginia and other offices have since been located in various cities within the country. The force is headed by Administrator of Drug Enforcement who is an appointee of the president and has to be vetted by the u. senate. The administrator is required to report to the Attorney General through the office of Deputy Attorney General.
Drug Abuse Law Enforcement recruits competitive personnel who then are taken through a rigorous training for 16 weeks which include firearms proficiency, and deadly force decisions tasks. For a trainee to graduate, a trainee must acquire 80 percent on training examinations. This ensures that only qualified personnel are in the force. The force does not employ candidates with history of drugs use. The force is charged with control of drug use and smuggling within the country but it can pursue drug cases which federal government is involved in outside the country.
In addition, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a law enforcement force which falls under United States Department of Justice. The force was part of United States Department of Treasury which was formed in 1886 which then was a Revenue Laboratory within the treasury. The force is charged with the responsibilities which include carrying out investigations and preventing illegal use, manufacture, possession of illegal fire arms and explosives, arson and bombing acts, and illegal transportation of alcohol and tobacco products. In addition, force carries out regulation through licensing sale, possession, and trafficking of firearms, ammunition among other sensitive commodities.
During the wake of terrorist attack in 2001, President Bush signed Homeland Security Act into law. As a result of creation of Department of Homeland Security, the force was shifted from Department of Treasury to Department of Justice. In addition the force was charged with responsibilities of collecting federal tax revenue from tobacco and alcohol products and regulating functions related to protecting public against production of such goods.
The bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is made up of different forces with each having respective responsibilities and acts under the command of a director. Special agents of the force are empowered to conduct their own criminal investigations, defend American citizens against domestic or international terrorism acts and act together with state and local law enforcement forces to reduce criminal acts at national level. The force has the greatest responsibility among all other federal police forces.
The bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent hiring and training is highly competitive in comparison to other federal police forces. Hired trainees do their training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center which is situated in Glynco, Georgia. The rigorous training is completed after twenty seven weeks. The training program consist of pre-Basic training for one week, criminal investigation program for twelve weeks and Special Agent Basic Training Course for the rest period
In addition, there is United States Secret Service which is a component of federal police that forms a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The force is divided into two groups whereby the sworn in officials are either in the Special Agents or in the Uniformed Division. In addition, the force has two major functions; first, treasury role whereby they cover prevention and investigation missions on cases such as counterfeiting of currency and treasury bonds notes, second, is preventive roles whereby the force is responsible of ensuring safety to former and current national leaders.
Uniformed Division of the United States Secret Service is charged with the responsibility of providing security. This divisional force was established in 1922 as the White House Police Force, it was later integrated into secret service in 1930.the force currently carries out protective responsibilities through a network of security posts, bicycles, vehicles, foot and motorcycle mode of security patrols. The force is also required to offer support to Secret Service's protection mission when need arises.
Another sub-division of federal police is United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The force is under United States Department of Homeland Security. It charged with responsibility of identifying, and investigating cases related to national borders. Force is headed by an officer who is appointed at cabinet level by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The force was founded in 2002 following the 2001 attack.
Headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are located in Washington D.C. the force comprises of four sub-divisions with each having its own director. These sub-divisions serve American citizens by providing investigation, interdiction and security. The main objective of the force is to investigate and interdict cases that threaten security of the United States of America at national and international level.
In addition, another crucial sub-division of the federal police is Department of Homeland Security. The force is under the cabinet of United States. It is primarily charged with the responsibility of offering protection services to the United States and responding to national disasters. It has a sub-division called Department of Defense which is charged with the responsibility of military missions abroad. The force has the largest number of officers compared to all the others.
This force is headed by Secretary of Homeland Security who is assisted by Deputy Secretary. It was founded in 2001 as a response to the terrorist attack in September 2001. Its headquarters are located in Washington D.C. following its establishment many cabinet agencies merged their responsibilities into a single unit. It is also responsible to respond to any security threatening issue within the country regardless of the states boundaries (Brodeur, 1992).
However, another important sub-division of federal police force is the United States Marshals Service. The force is the oldest federal police force. It lies under the Department of Justice at federal level. It is mandated to give protection to the Department of Justice. Their main work is to protect court officials, structures, prisoners and transporting prisoners and equipments of the department. It is also responsible for issuing arrest warrants and pursuing fugitives.
Marshals' service is located in Arlington, Virginia. Force is under the authority of the Attorney General but headed by a Director. Director and State Marshals are appo9inted by the president of United States. In addition, the force is responsible for protecting witnesses and managing assets recovered from criminals. The force officials are allowed to maintain law and order even when they are off duty and wearing civilian clothing.
Furthermore, there is another sub-division of the federal police called the United State Department of Diplomatic Security Agency. It is under the United States Department of State. The force has mandate of carrying out investigations around the globe. Risky threats to the security of United States are handled by this force. The force also offers personal protection to the United States Secretary of States and other dignitaries who visit the country.
Local mandates of the force are carrying out investigations into visa and passport affairs. Internationally, they are responsible for protecting embassies, and carrying out law enforcement missions of the United States. The force has the toughest hiring process to a candidate compared with all other sub-divisions of federal police force. Qualified candidates go through a six months basic training program in Glynco, Georgia, thereafter joining Foreign Service Institute (FSI) which is situated in Arlington, Virginia. After training an agent is assigned to a domestic tasks intended for two years prior to captivating overseas assignments (Goldsmith, 2007).
Another crucial sub-division of federal police is the United States Customs and Border Protection agency. The force lies under the United States Department of Homeland Security. The force is responsible for regulation and facilitation of international trade affairs which United States is involved. They also collect import duties and enforce regulations as stipulated by trade laws of United States. The main duty of the force is to prevent security threatening materials from entering the country through imported goods. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C (Deflem, 2004)
Lastly, another sub-division of federal law enforcement force is the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is in the United States Department of Justice. It is charged with the mandate of caring out investigation both locally and internationally. Headquarters of the agency are located in Washington D.C. The goal of the force is to protect and defend United States against attacks and foreign threats (Nadelmann, 1993).
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was established in 1908 as a Bureau of Investigation but its name later changed in 1935. Officials who carry out investigations are appointed by Attorney General. The force is provided with authority to use communication networks such as internet in carrying out investigations. It also has power to carry out specific investigations. The force is allowed to break into criminals residences when carrying out house search (Walker, 1977).
Apart from federal police there is State Police force divisions in the United States. This is a police body which conducts law enforcement duties at state level. Each state has its own police force unique from the other since laws are different from one sate to the other. Their main duties are to carry out investigations at state level, patrol state highways and interstate highways as well. They offer personal protection to state senior officials such as the governor and visiting dignitaries. Additionally, state forces also have sub-divisions such as State Investigation Bureau, State Department of Investigations among others of forces does not matter what matters is the responsibilities of each agency (Ratcliffe.J, 2007).
Additionally, there is another type of police force called county or local police force. The force exists at county level but they also have countrywide jurisdiction. The force has three sub-divisions: Full service division which enforces traditional law, patrol and carrying out investigations at county level, Limited service force which perform policing duties by contract when their is need, and Restricted service which performs justice related services at county level.
Lastly, there is a law enforcement agency which performs its duties at municipality level. This force is called Municipal police. Municipal police are under the local government and found in large towns and cities all over the country. Their responsibilities vary from one town to the other. Their jurisdiction is to control car parking and collecting parking fees in towns they also monitor public service transport in the cities and ensuring no illegal trade is carried out within the town or city.
In conclusion, there are many law enforcement agencies in the United States of America. The game of numbers has been played but in real sense without these forces the country will be venerable to attacks and threats from other countries around the world. A country needs security against all manners of criminal activities and to combat these threats a country must have effective law enforcement agencies. United States has many forces but each force has an important jurisdiction of ensuring our safety. The number of law enforcement forces does not matter, what matters is where each force is carrying out its jurisdiction as it is required by law.