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Old 10-30-2011, 10:22 PM
 
Location: Australia
13 posts, read 22,982 times
Reputation: 44

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In Australia, we have the State police, which police each state, paid for by relevant state,and within that you have the specialist units (rescue, highway patrol, etc). The we have Federal police, based mainly in the ACT and the state capitals, who investigate Federal crimes, who I guess is equivalent to your FBI. Then we have A.S.I.O, which is I guess our C.I.A.

But my mind boggles at US policing. You have:
- local or municipal police
- sherrifs department
- state troopers
- city police
- state police; and
- federal police?? Am I right?

What is the difference between a regular US cop and a sheriff? In Australia, mostly the Sheriff is an officer of the courts, issues, summons, etc. In the US, they seem to do cops work?

Could someone please explain what all the above does and why so many levels of policing?
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Duluth, MN
521 posts, read 967,272 times
Reputation: 847
There really aren't that many levels. For example, "local," "municipal," and "city" police are essentially the same thing.

A Sheriff is the chief law enforcement official in a county, and his deputies enforce laws within the county. Some of the cities in the county have their own local police, but some do not, hence the need for the Sheriff's office. But if they do, the Sheriff's office usually covers the areas in between municipalities and rural areas.

State police is just that - enforcing state law, state-wide. I.e. when a potential crime may involve more than one county/jurisdiction. That's why a lot of state police work is traffic enforcement on state highways, which span multiple jurisdictions.

Federal law enforcement exists for a similar reason as state law enforcement, albeit on a larger scale - enforcing federal law over large multi-state areas and/or of international scope. It's also generally broken down into different agencies which enforce different federal laws or have specific missions.
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Old 10-31-2011, 05:27 PM
 
Location: West Tennessee
2,083 posts, read 2,908,058 times
Reputation: 1337
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misanthrope71 View Post
In Australia, we have the State police, which police each state, paid for by relevant state,and within that you have the specialist units (rescue, highway patrol, etc). The we have Federal police, based mainly in the ACT and the state capitals, who investigate Federal crimes, who I guess is equivalent to your FBI. Then we have A.S.I.O, which is I guess our C.I.A.

But my mind boggles at US policing. You have:
- local or municipal police
- sherrifs department
- state troopers
- city police
- state police; and
- federal police?? Am I right?

What is the difference between a regular US cop and a sheriff? In Australia, mostly the Sheriff is an officer of the courts, issues, summons, etc. In the US, they seem to do cops work?

Could someone please explain what all the above does and why so many levels of policing?
Highway Patrol is usually the same thing as State Police. Municipal and City are the same as well. Sheriff's Departments have different roles depending on the county they're assigned to (Sheriff = County Police). In rural counties, they are the primary law enforcement. In more urban counties they're usually more directed towards serving papers and running jails. The state police/highway patrol are statewide law enforcement that is paid for by the states themselves. There are federal police but they don't (typically) do any traffic enforcement or anything similar to that nature. It's pretty rare to see a federal cop anywhere around my neck of the woods.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:24 PM
 
1,806 posts, read 3,386,085 times
Reputation: 876
Municipal and city police are responsible for policing their own municipalities (cities). County Sheriffs patrol unincorporated areas (areas that are not cities i.e. rural), serve papers, man courthouses, and often guard the county jail (local jails). State police are responsible for patrolling highways, vehicle crimes, and statewide issues. There are also specialized agencies such as state Alcoholic Beverage Control, transit police, university police, etc. These all enforce state law.

Federal law enforcement enforces federal crimes (not state crimes), crimes that involve interstate commerce, or multiple states. There are many different federal law enforcement agencies from the U.S. Capitol Police to the Park Police to the FBI, each with a different mission.
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