A law enforcement agency is a governmental organization whose main role is to make sure that laws are not broken. They are of different types inclusive of the lowest one, which is a local law enforcement agency like the sheriff or a multinational law enforcement agency. All of them operate within a certain given jurisdiction, have different powers to persecute and in some instances, the laws differ. Having several law enforcement agencies within the same country is as old as 1837 introduced by a Spanish Governor Francisco Javier De Moreda (Tim 2009).
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In as much as there are different sectors of law enforcement agencies, the main aims shared by all departments include;
- Law maintenance including keeping peace and preventing behaviors, which would otherwise cause disturbance like theft and burglary.
- Enforcement of law by ensuring that every citizen, local or international is following the rules and if not, taking them to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for punishment. Usually, international offenders may be deported in severe cases.
- Rendering services like first aid, finding lost pets and sometimes auto assistance along the roadside. This however is only present in the developed countries and not everywhere.
The main aims of a federal law enforcement agency include; investigating currency (Tim 2009) counterfeiting, policing of airports, countering fraud against the federation, national security and protection of country’s head of state. State police operate statewide, they function to provide technological and scientific support for investigations, training of new police officers, jurisdictional task support, and state patrols for example traffic patrols. In some cases, they also serve under state departments like transportation for example Indiana State Police. Local police only function in their local areas like towns to ensure law enforcement, safety of the neighborhood, investigation of less petty crimes, assisting residents in case of a calamity and giving security to the local courts.
The main aim of subdividing the law enforcement agencies is for easy planning when it comes to financing and budgeting. Since communities keep growing, there could be merging between some local police agencies and sheriff’s office in order to be more efficient and to resolve jurisdictional problems. Efficiency in this case refers to more staff, more technology and thus faster service due to division of labor. This also eases provision of services by centralizing command making the process of decision making quicker and easier not to mention helping poor towns, which cannot afford having an independent law enforcement agency (Joel 2009). A good example of this is the Los Angeles County Police Department that services local cities falling under its county. Another advantage of this division is offering the ability of training police in cases where the agency is too small to offer training.
A problem occurs when a crime is committed along two lines of jurisdiction; in this case, there is the involvement of Federal Bureau of Investigation and the department of justice (Karen and Christine 2008). A concurrent jurisdiction is done and the crime is determined whether it is against either state or federal laws, and judgment is done on these grounds. For example, a resident of Florida who wants to defraud a Virginia resident will be tried in Florida. However, there is conflict in some cases, since what may be unlawful in one state may be lawful in another. Sometimes, the law of extradition is applied in cases where an individual commits a crime in one state and moves to another (Tim 2009). One state may request another to deport the criminal, but this may only be applicable in cases where both states view the crime as punishable under the state law.
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