Law enforcement forms part the criminal justice system with the other major parts of this system being the corrections and courts. Since establishment of the law enforcement system, there have been improvements and adjustments which have finally resulted in the current system which has three levels of law enforcement namely the federal level, the state level and the local level. All these levels of law enforcement have quite a number of differences and similarities, essentially based on their various roles and functions in the course of executing their mandate. Of the three different levels, the federal level is the highest which means therefore that it is charged with more functions and responsibilities which can span across all the other levels depending on different circumstances at different stages of the law enforcement system. The overall unifying goal of all these three levels is the performance of their functions to the full satisfaction and needs of the public and yet in ultimate conformity to the tenets of the constitution. The local level is the lowest in rank and some of its functions include provision of security in the courtroom, transportation of prisoners, operations of a court jail, arresting beakers of law, conducting regular patrol, enforcement of traffic regulations, provision of various official permits and licenses to the public. The state level is the next and is charged with investigations of state crime plus the protection of the governors, among other duties. The highest level (federal) is charged with more responsibilities compared to the other levels. It is made up of various agencies which include the secret service, drug enforcement agency, bureau of alcohol, tobacco & firearms, and also the FBI (Homeland Security, 2010).
When it comes to differences, there are three fundamental distinct differences that come out clearly among the federal, state and local law enforcement levels. The federal level conducts its responsibilities across the nation, implying that its functions are more comprehensive, touching on almost every aspect of the nation's law enforcement system. It has a wide range of branches in terms of agencies with some of the most common ones being the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations), USBP (United States Border Patrol) and the USMS (United States Marshal Service). The state level is concerned with the daily law enforcement of that particular state, meaning every state has its own law enforcement section responsible with the daily running of activities related to law enforcement.
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For example a state law enforcement agency in a particular state will be responsible for the states' highway conditions, inspection of motor vehicles as per the national regulations and conduction of investigations related to crime. The local level is equally responsible for the execution of law and order at the country level by taking into consideration the provisions of the local levels as outlined in the constitution. For instance, they offer forensic and laboratory related services. Another fundamental difference between the three of levels of law enforcement lies in the resources and staff allocated to the specific levels and units. Te resources and staff are normally allocate on the basis of the size and annual budget requirements depending on what a particular level would be planning to carry out in a particular year. Therefore, the budgets can vary from time to time depending on the needs which vary. However, generally the federal level will have the biggest proportion of the staff and resources simply due to the fact that it is charged with more responsibilities as compared to the other two levels. It is worth noting that this does not imply that the federal level must always get the bigger part of the resources, since the other levels will get enough resources which can increase whenever it becomes necessary in case of special projects to be carried out.
The other difference lies in support and operations. Every level has a different format of support to address the specific areas. The way they operate is equally different and they all have certain distinct mechanisms of operation which is embodied by the staff of the various units making up a specific level. Jurisdiction is also another important factor that differentiates these three levels. One level cannot engage in a jurisdiction that does not fall under its range of functions. For instance, the local level cannot get too much involved in a case dealing with matters of immigration laws which are constitutionally dealt with the federal law enforcement level. Perhaps what the state law level can partake in such a case it to forward it to the federal level on the understanding that that particular case or violation for that matter has been performed in that particular state, thereby interfering or breaking the state laws in as far as immigration policies are concerned for the affected state.
In such a scenario, the state law authorities will refer to the constitution to specifically identify the particular act that has been conducted in violation to the currently existing laws of the state. Upon reference to the federal level, the case is dealt under the National Immigration Policy which stipulates clearly how such circumstances should be handled. This way, the two levels will have performed their functions effectively under their jurisdiction. In other words, the federal level in essence has jurisdiction across the whole nation whereas a local or state level has jurisdiction within the specific state or locality. In other words, they bear the responsibilities of seeing to it that anyone that violates the laws, either from within or outside the country shall be dealt with according to the laws of the land.
The similarities between all these three levels is based on the understanding that all of them are mainly concerned with execution of the laws of the land and ensuring that they are followed by all citizens to the latter. They are all charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the laws of the land are adhered to and that anyone implicated in violation of any of the laws is brought to book under the dictates of the national law. Communication in these levels is another similarity that comes out to a large extent. In particular is the issue of interoperability. This is the ability of the systems of communication for all the law enforcement levels to operate in such a way that they can get information from one another that is crucial and necessary regardless of the jurisdiction. For this to happen, it means that the communication networks must have some levels of similarities especially in the way the signals are sent and received by the federal, state and local levels. The similarities will then allow certain information to be sharable by personnel from the different levels in the system. This similarity comes out mainly as a result of the many incidents that have been viewed as having happened due to lack of interoperability between the enforcement levels, thus creating a dangerous communication gap. This contributed to sad occurrences like the bombing of the world trade centre. In order to avoid such acts from future recurrence, massive efforts are being made in terms of changing the whole infrastructure so as to achieve interlinked and a technically similar communication networks (National Institute of Justice, 1998).
August Vollmer is one of the most famous pioneers in the area of criminal justice among other important figures that contributed to the development of criminal investigation technology that we continue to witness today. Born in March 7, 1876 and also known as Gus Vollmer, he was a leading figure in these developments in addition to being the first chief of police in Berkeley. Vollmer put in place a bicycle based patrol in addition to creating a records system for the police that was centralized, the very first one of its kind in the country and perhaps in the world. This system was designed in such a way that it could achieve high level organization of all sorts of criminal investigations thus making them more harmonious, efficient and with as few errors as possible. This system also aimed at streamlining the investigations such that in the end they would deliver outcomes that would be helpful and with the ability to be relied upon. Another contribution he made is that of establishment of a network of call box which would then ensure that all calls are processed in a networked sequence of operations in order to ensure consistency and thus become easier to decipher all information coming in as well as getting out. Having recognized the usefulness of analytical investigations, Vollmer created the first forensic laboratory in Los Angeles which become very useful indeed for detailed and analytical investigations especially those that contained material that needed experimental analysis from the lab(Bennet $ Hess, 2006).Vollmer also took it upon himself to offer highly detailed training on marksmanship to all his deputies so that they could become familiar with what it really entails and the best ways to have it carried out while in the field and on general duties. By definition, a markman is one with trained knowledge and skills for using projectile weapons and shooting by using the various machines and equipment that are designed for this purpose. Marksmanship therefore is the process by which these skills are acquired by training.
These three levels of the law enforcement system of the nation are so crucial in the administration of law and monitoring the general justice system.
Their responsibilities and mandate are so important to the country. They have their main differences due to their principle functions depending on where they are based. The similarities are also many since they are equally interconnected since most of the functions they perform are of a close nature but then performed at different levels of the law administration. Regardless of the differences and the similarities in distinction for all these levels, the most important underlying fact is that they form a major part of the nations criminal justice system which bears the much demanding responsibility of taking care of the security of the nation and the crucial task of law and order right from the local level, proceeding to the state level right up to the federal level. The federal level assumes the position of overall execution where it performs most of the functions through a coordination that should be as effective and efficient as possible.
In conclusion, these levels must cooperate fully in order to ensure that they deliver to expectations and requirements by the constitution. It is proper harmonization and enhanced enforcement that eventually brings in the highest quality of law enforcement. The best way to achieve this is by maintaining the standards set by the pioneers like August Vollmer, and constantly improving where necessary in order to remain on focus and useful. The pioneers had a vision to hold onto the principles of performance of the law enforcement. The history brings out the development and progress of these key features of law enforcement that were set by great people who had the common interest of the nation at hand. All the levels are unique and special but in a highly interconnected structure.