Law enforcement is a broad term which encompasses any setup that is put in place to promote adherence to law – in an organized manner, by identifying and punishing people who violate the rules and norms of the society. Simply put, a law enforcement officer is a person who enforces the law of the land. Even though the term also entails the court system and correctional facilities for the role they play in the criminal justice system, it is more often used to refer to those government agencies which directly engage in patrolling and/or surveillance to detect and dissuade various criminal acts or investigate criminal cases and apprehend those who violate the law.
Each nation has its own law enforcement agencies, and every state or province of that nation may have a law enforcement agency of its own. Similarly, there can be more than one law enforcement agency within the nation or state which may be dealing with a specific type of crime such as economic offenses, drug related crimes, etc. The term ‘police’ refers to those individuals who work to enforce the law, protect life and property of the people and reduce civil disorder in the society. It is important to note that law enforcement is just a part of the broad concept of policing, and not the concept as a whole.
Law Enforcement in the United States of America
As in most nations of the world, even in the United States the term ‘law enforcement’ specifically refers to those agencies which detect, dissuade and investigate criminal acts, and apprehend the offenders. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principal government investigation agency in the United States of America. It looks into matters concerning violation of Federal Law within the national territory. At the same time, it is also entitled the task of conducting national security investigations.
Other Federal agencies which can be included in the category of law enforcement agencies in the United States of America include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – which looks into the matters involving illegal drugs, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – which investigates the violations of Federal firearms and explosives laws as well as alcohol and tobacco tax regulations. Other law enforcement agencies which come under the purview of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, etc. These agencies along with courts and prisons form the criminal justice system of the United States.<-align: justify;">Interesting Law Enforcement Facts
Law enforcement in the United States is carried out by different agencies at many different levels. While the Federal law enforcement agencies look into the matters which affect the nation as a whole, the authority of the state police and county police is mostly restricted to their jurisdiction. As of today, the number of sworn-in law enforcement officers serving in various agencies in the United States of America stands at 900,000. Given below are more of such interesting facts about law enforcement with reference to the United States.
* The history of law enforcement in the United States can be traced back to the establishment of New York City Sheriff’s Office in 1626.
* While the law enforcement officers worked without a salary on a part-time basis initially, the first full-time, paid law enforcement officers were hired by the City of Boston in 1712.
* On 24th September, 1789, the first post of Federal law enforcement officer – the Marshal, was created by the U.S. Congress. A total of 13 U.S. Marshals were appointed by President George Washington himself.
* In 1835, the first proper law enforcement agency – i.e. a full-fledged unit, was established in the state of Texas. The oldest law enforcement agency of the United States, it was eventually named the Texas Rangers.
* The first recorded death of an officer in the line of duty came in 1791, and since then as many as 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
* The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) in Washington, D.C., is a memorial which honors the U.S. law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
* According to the preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), 162 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2010.
* Statistical data suggests that somewhere around 56,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted in the United States every single year; wherein somewhere around 16,000 are left seriously injured.
* On 9/11 – which was the deadliest day for the entire world, and not just the United States, 72 law enforcement officers died responding to the terrorist attacks.
* The Supreme Court of the United States Police is perhaps the smallest U.S. federal law enforcement agency with a total strength of 145 sworn-in officers.
Being a law enforcement officer is not at all an easy task, and that’s what all the aforementioned law enforcement facts hint at. If it is safe for us to move around freely in society today, it is only because these uniformed officers stand between us and the bad elements in society, and that in itself highlights the importance of law enforcement very well. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that these officers deserve a lot more respect that what they get.