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Functions of Police Essay

Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) not only operate across the entire nation, but the agency also has agents serving abroad. In addition to this, the FBI is not a police agency, but an agency with jurisdiction to investigate any and all matters in which the United States is, or maybe an interested party (The Scope of Present Federal Activity, 1968). The Federal Bureau of Investigation limits its jurisdiction to laws pertaining to federal statues, including all federal statues not primarily assigned to other agencies. These include statues dealing with espionage, sabotage, treason, civil rights violation, the assault and murder of federal law enforcement officers, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, mail fraud, federally insured banks, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, and property (Hill, 1999).

In addition to these laws, some federal agencies offer helpful services to other local police agencies, including use of its vast fingerprint file, and a sophisticated crime laboratory that aids local police in testing and identifying evidence, such as hair, fiber, drugs, blood, and tire tracks. The FBI’s National Crime Information Center is a computerized network linked to local police departments by terminals. Through it, information vehicles reported stolen, wanted persons, guns reported stolen, and so on are made readily available to local law enforcement agencies (The Scope of Federal Activity,1968). The following agencies are also part of federal law enforcement:

1. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Investigates illegal drug use and carries out independent surveillance and enforcement activities to control the importation of narcotics (Hill, 2009).

2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Has jurisdiction over the sales and distribution of firearm, explosives, alcohol, and tobacco products (Hill, 2009).

3. U.S. Marshalls. Court officers who help implement federal court rulings, transport rulings, transport prisoners, and enforce court orders (Hill, 2009).

4. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Enforces violations of income, exise, stamp, and other tax laws. Its intelligence division actively pursues gamblers, narcotic dealers, and other violators who do not report their illegal financial gains as taxable income (Hill, 2009).

Federal police agencies do not have the order maintenance or peacekeeping duties typical of a local police department, which oftentimes causes controversy and sometimes civil disturbances. Last, the jurisdictions of some federal law enforcement agencies are extremely narrow. The United States Supreme Court Police for example provide protective and investigative services for the Supreme Court only (Framework for Assessing the Acquisition Function at Federal Agencies, 2006).

State police provide traffic and criminal law enforcement, as well as other services that are particular to the needs of that state government. Some of the functions of state police includes controlling traffic on the highway system, tracing stolen automobiles, and aiding in disturbances and crowd control (Pavone,1942). In states with large, powerful county sheriff’s departments, the state police functions are usually restricted to highway patrol. In others, where the county sheriff’s law enforcement role is limited, state police usually maintain a more active investigative and enforcement role and aid city and town police departments in criminal investigations Misner, 1960).

The local police are the workhorses of the law enforcement system in America. They perform many functions and tasks including, but not limited to: (1) Law enforcement-examples include burglary investigations, apprehending criminal perpetrators, serving warrants, or giving court testimonies, (2) Peacekeeping and order maintenance-examples include preventing fights or disturbances between individuals, or peacefully resolving domestic disputes before they spiral out of control, (3) Service- examples include hospital and funeral processions escorts, or delivering mail for city officials (4) Information gathering-examples include determining neighborhood reactions to a proposed liquor license in the community, investigating cases of missing children, or investigating and reporting dangerous road conditions (Mathis & Zech, 1985).

Other duties and responsibilities of the local police include protecting life and property- patrolling a particular jurisdiction at night, keeping citizens from a fire scene, or recovering and returning stolen items or lost property. Enforcing the law-ensuring traffic laws are adhered to, filing police reports and complaints, or seizing illegal weapons. Preventing criminal activity-patrolling high crime areas. Maintaining the peace- showing high police visibility and presence, or intervening in neighbor disturbances. Arresting violators-apprehending fleeing suspects, or giving citations to alcohol permit holders who sell to minors. Serve the public trust- giving directions to travelers, delivering emergency messages, administering first aid ((Mathis & Zech, 1985).

County law enforcement as it relates to police functions involves the sheriff’s department. These individuals perform various functions ranging from investigations to supervision of sentenced offenders. Furthermore, they provide courtroom security as well as confining and transporting prisoners, serve summons, and warrants, enforce traffic, and criminal laws. Sheriff’s departments frequently operate the county jail, which houses hundreds and even thousands of prisoners, depending on the particular county. In certain counties, the sheriff’s department shares law enforcement duties with a separate police department.

Furthermore, the sheriff’s law enforcement functions today are carried out only in unincorporated areas within a county or in response to city departments’ request for aid in such matters as patrol or investigations (Misner, 1960). Sheriffs generally have more leniency over police chiefs when it comes to running their own agencies. The local police, in many counties, operate the sheriffs department. In many counties, local police governs the operations of the sheriff’s department, and the sheriff must operate as a partisan politician to remain in office. The authority to appoint special duties and to award patronage jobs contributes to the sheriff’s power and influence in a county (Misner, 1960).

Identify and address possible future changes in laws and the overall impact these changes will have on the field of policing. The Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal signed the new Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 into law May 13. Legal challenges facing the Atlanta Police Department are expected and might delay implementation, but it is scheduled otherwise to take effect July 1st. Possible changes to the new law, the Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, will have a significant and chilling effect on the Atlanta Police Department. One of the challenges presented is that crime reporting will go unnoticed and unreported in communities and jurisdictions where immigrants are predominant (Moya & Shedlin, 2008).

Fear of deportation and arrest would give illegal immigrants an even greater incentive to stay “under the radar” and avoid drawing attention to themselves. Doing this would undercut and undermine the Atlanta police department’s overall crime-fighting efforts which will ultimately impact unreported crime for their police officers. The greatest impact these new changes in the Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act will have on the Atlanta police department is that in the absence of federal policy, the Atlanta police department will be forced to take a very active role in dealing with issues pertaining to immigration, although they don’t have the authority and resources to tackle immigration issues. Furthermore, their authority still hasn’t been made clear as of yet and federal resources are not sufficient to support them (Moya & Shedlin, 2008).

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