Police Organization and Their Roles as They Apply to the Law

In any society, police organizations play a vital role because they represent the government. Therefore, the police form part of the law enforcement agencies in various communities. They are organized into various departments with various jurisdictions to ensure that the citizens receive better security and protection services regardless of their age, rank, color, status, and/or position in the government (Cornelio & Eisenberg, 2007). This essay discusses the police organization and its roles as they apply to the law.

Roles and Functions of Police Organizations as they Apply to the Law

The police organizations play vital roles and functions in the community. Their major roles and functions law enforcement through maintaining law and order in society. When those two roles are observed from a broader perspective, they encompass a plethora of functions, powers, responsibilities, and duties the police organization must execute to ensure that law and order are observed accordingly (Walker & Katz, 2007). In general, the roles and functions of the police organizations as they relate to the law include the following:

  • Upholding and enforcing the law impartially as well as protecting the life, property, and dignity of every citizen. The visual presence of the local police in the community enhances security and deters criminal actions. They ensure that law and order are upheld by every person regardless of their social status. In performing this function, they work within their assigned jurisdiction.
  • Working and coordinating with other government agencies to prevent and reduce every opportunity for the commission of crimes. The patrol police prevent crime and preserve peace and security by patrolling, performing picket and ambush duties, checking vehicles, and scrutinizing and checking for bad characters in the community. This helps in curbing criminal activities (Walker & Katz, 2007).
  • Other police agencies within the police organization involve in crime detection. They collect intelligence or information on matters related to national security and public peace, and other offenses. They, therefore, act upon the offense as well as disseminate the same information to other concerned agencies for further action (Mastrofski & Willis, 2010).
  • Providing security in the community and enhancing amity through their impartial service to all people. They also labor to promote and preserve public order by supporting the enforcement of social legislation and special laws in the community (Cornelio & Eisenberg, 2007).

Types of police agencies at the local, state, and federal level and the roles and functions of each

In the US, several law enforcement agencies under the police department play various roles and functions in the local, state, and federal levels of governance. Those agencies are accorded powers by the municipal, state, or federal government to execute their duties and responsibilities within their jurisdiction.

Local Police Agencies

The local police agencies include the municipal, county, tribal, and regional police. Those police agencies receive power from the local authorities that create them. Their roles and functions include upholding the law, investigating crimes, and providing patrol services to the community while working within their jurisdiction. Local enforcement agencies also provide community services, alcohol testing, community relations, and emergency services. They are the source of protection for the citizens at the local level (Walker & Katz, 2007).

State Police Agencies

The state police agencies are created by the state and they provide criminal investigations services and highway patrol within the state. In some states, the state police agencies concentrate on highway patrol while the function of investigation is left to a separate agency such as the state bureau of investigations (Walker & Katz, 2007). In addition, the function of the state police is to help local police with investigations and attending to emergencies that go beyond the resources and jurisdictional boundaries of the local authorities. They are responsible for ensuring that the state highway, rural areas, and many other areas within the state are safe for staying in. They also conduct criminal investigations, community initiatives, and maintain security in the state by using powers bestowed upon them by their respective state authorities (Mastrofski & Willis, 2010).

Federal Level Police Agencies

The federal-level police agencies are created by the federal government to uphold and enforce laws that extend beyond the state and affect various regions of the country. The federal police agencies include the FBI, Unites States Marshal Services (USMS), and United States Customs and Border Patrol. The FBI plays the role of carrying out a criminal investigation involving cybercrime, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, civil rights, public corruption, and violent crimes (Walker & Katz, 2007). They collect intelligence on such crimes and disseminate the information to the relevant authorities. Moreover, they apprehend and arraign in court the perpetrators of criminal offenses.

The functions of the United States Marshal Service include protecting the federal judges and courts, apprehending fugitives, transporting prisoners, and protecting witnesses. They are also involved in serving the court documents, managing prisoners, and conducting criminal investigations (Mastrofski & Willis, 2010). Finally, the USBP, which is also called the U.S Customs and Border protection performs the role of preventing the illegal entry of goods into the US borders. They ensure that lawful travel and trade are adhered to, and are followed consistently. Finally, the federal police agencies have jurisdiction over the local and state police agencies (Walker & Katz, 2007).

Sheriff Departments

The Sheriff Department police agency is responsible for developing policies for the county jurisdiction. The sheriff’s department shares the roles with local law enforcement agencies, but they also patrol county jurisdictions, investigations, and coroners. This department of police mainly deals with police administrative issues (Mastrofski & Willis, 2010).

The Role and Function of Patrol Work

Patrol work is the backbone of the entire police organization because the patrol officers carry out a variety of roles and functions within the police department. This makes patrol work so essential for law enforcement because it ensures a free society. The patrol officers provide police services within the community by responding to calls for service regardless of the complexity of the situation. Therefore, the major role of the patrol officers is to take care of the injured victims in cases of attacks or accidents, identify the suspects, and to pursuing and apprehend the suspects for trial before the courts (Walker & Katz, 2007).

Actually, the patrol officers are the most visible within the police organization because they have the most contact with the public. The patrol police patrol on foot, horsebacks, motorcycles, or vehicles across the country to provide security, maintain law and order, as well as protect people’s properties. Furthermore, they get involved in controlling traffic, investigating accidents, and responding to all kinds of crimes. The patrol police are usually the first ones to arrive at the crime scenes to secure evidence and interview the witnesses. As a result, they help detectives to carry out their investigations. The patrol officers also act as counselors whereby they mediate and counsel persons in matters related to domestic chaos. They offer guidance and mediate civil disputes despite lacking professional qualifications for counseling, conflict resolution, and mediation (Mastrofski & Willis, 2010). Moreover, patrol police enforce traffic rules and investigate traffic accidents. The patrol officers are responsible for investigating areas of frequent road accidents and identifying their causes.


Cornelio, L., & Eisenberg, G (2007). Public Safety, Law, and Security. Boston: Ferguson Company.

Mastrofski, D.S, & Willis, J.J (2010). Police organization continuity and change: Into the twenty‐first century. Crime and Justice, 39 (1): 55-144.

Walker, S., & Katz, C.M. (2007). The police in America: An introduction. (6th Ed). Boston: McGraw Hill.

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LawBirdie. "Police Organization and Their Roles as They Apply to the Law." September 20, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/police-organization-and-their-roles-as-they-apply-to-the-law/.