law enforcement


law enforcement
Britain has 52 regional police forces, which are responsible for maintaining law and order in their own area. London has two police forces, the Metropolitan Police, often referred to as the Met, which covers Greater London, and the smaller City of London Police.
  Each regional police force is led by a Chief Constable. Police officers wear dark blue uniforms, and constables wear tall hard helmets. The British police force is relatively small, with one police officer to every 400 people. Some members of the public are trained as special constables and are available to help the police in an emergency.
  The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is based at New Scotland Yard and is sometimes referred to as ‘Scotland Yard’. As well as operating in London, it provides detectives to help the regional forces solve more serious crimes. The CID is divided into several branches, including the Special Branch, the Flying Squad, the Fraud Squad, the Vice Squad, the Criminal Record Office, and Traffic Control. CID officers do not wear uniform.
  Attitudes towards the police have changed in Britain over the years. The traditional image of the friendly bobby on the beat, a policeman going round his local area on foot or on a bicycle armed only with a whistle and a truncheon (= long club), is now out of date. The modern police officer, man or woman, is more likely to be patrolling in a police car and to have less contact with the public. Police officers generally still carry only truncheons as weapons, and though some are trained to use a gun they only carry one in special circumstances. Dishonesty, racial prejudice and excessive use of force by some officers have damaged the public image of the police and in response the police have tried to get rid of dishonest officers and build better relationships with local communities, a practice called community policing. More police now patrol on foot again, instead of in cars.
  In the US, law enforcement is carried out by different organizations at the various levels of government. In all, there are about 17 000 law enforcement agencies and they employ more than 800 000 full-time officers. At national level, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has about 10 000 special agents who investigate crimes across the US. At state level, state police departments are responsible for highway patrols and their officers are called state troopers. Each county within a state has an elected sheriff and the people who work in the sheriff’s office, deputies, are responsible for investigating crimes. Cities have their own police departments. They may be very large in cities like New York, but those in small towns have only a few officers. Most colleges and universities have their own small police forces.
  The members of the US police force who have most contact with the public are uniformed officers, who patrol in cars and are the first to arrive when a crime is reported. More serious crimes are investigated by detectives, who usually wear plain clothes instead of a uniform. In spite of the fact that police officers in the US wear guns, they are seen by many Americans as being honest, helpful people who work hard at a dangerous job. This is the image that has been shown in popular television programmes such as Columbo and Hill Street Blues. But in recent years it has become clear that many police officers are prejudiced against African Americans and Hispanics and that in some police forces, such as that in Los Angeles, prejudice and even violence by the police have been common.

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Universalium. 2010.

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