Law enforcement officer

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A law enforcement officer (LEO), [1] or peace officer in North American English, is a public-sector employee whose duties primarily involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, municipal law enforcement officers, special police officers, customs officers, state troopers, special agents, secret agents, special investigators, border patrol officers, immigration officers, court officers, probation officers, parole officers, arson investigators, auxiliary officers, game wardens, sheriffs, constables, corrections, marshals, deputies, detention officers, correction officers, and public safety officers (at public institutions). Security guards are civilians and therefore not law enforcement officers, unless they have been granted powers to enforce particular laws, such as those accredited under a community safety accreditation scheme such as a Security Police Officer.

The public sector is the part of the economy composed of both public services and public enterprises.

Law enforcement Enforcement of the law by some members of society

Law enforcement is any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering, deterring, rehabilitating, or punishing people who violate the rules and norms governing that society. Although the term may encompass entities such as courts and prisons, it is most frequently applied to those who directly engage in patrols or surveillance to dissuade and discover criminal activity, and those who investigate crimes and apprehend offenders, a task typically carried out by the police or another law enforcement organization. Furthermore, although law enforcement may be most concerned with the prevention and punishment of crimes, organizations exist to discourage a wide variety of non-criminal violations of rules and norms, effected through the imposition of less severe consequences.

Police officer warranted employee of a police force

A police officer, also known as an officer, policeman, policewoman, cop/copper, garda, police agent, or a police employee is a warranted law employee of a police force. In most countries, "police officer" is a generic term not specifying a particular rank. In some, the use of the rank "officer" is legally reserved for military personnel.


Modern legal codes use the term peace officer (or in some jurisdictions, law enforcement officer) to include every person vested by the legislating state with law enforcement authority—traditionally, anyone "sworn, badged, and armable" who can arrest, or refer such arrest for a criminal prosecution. Hence, city police officers, county sheriffs' deputies, and state troopers are usually vested with the same authority within a given jurisdiction. Contract security officers may enforce certain laws and administrative regulations, which may include detainment or apprehension authority, including arresting. Peace officers may also be able to perform all duties that a law enforcement officer is tasked with, but may or may not be armed with a weapon.

State police police of subnational territories in various countries

State police or provincial police are a type of sub-national territorial police force found in nations organized as federations, typically in North America, South Asia, and Oceania. These forces typically have jurisdiction over the relevant sub-national jurisdiction, and may cooperate in law enforcement activities with municipal or national police where either exist.


In Canada, the Criminal Code (R.S., c. C-34, s. 2.) defines a peace officer as:

Peace officer includes

A sheriff is a government official, with varying duties, existing in some countries with historical ties to England, where the office originated. There is an analogous although independently developed office in Iceland that is commonly translated to English as sheriff, and this is discussed below.

Justice of the peace Judicial officer elected or appointed to keep the peace and do minor civic jobs

A justice of the peace (JP) is a judicial officer of a lower or puisne court, elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. In past centuries the term commissioner of the peace was often used with the same meaning. Depending on the jurisdiction, such justices dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are usually not required to have any formal legal education in order to qualify for the office. Some jurisdictions have varying forms of training for JPs.

Correctional Service of Canada

The Correctional Service of Canada, also known as Correctional Service Canada or Corrections Canada, is the Canadian federal government agency responsible for the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted criminal offenders sentenced to two years or more. The agency has its headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario.

Section (b) allows for designation as a peace officer for a member of the Correctional Service of Canada under the following via the Corrections and Conditional Release Act: [2]

In addition, provincial legislatures can designate a class of officers (i.e. Conservation Officers, Park Rangers and Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement) to be peace officers.

Sri Lanka

Under the Code Of Criminal Procedure a peace officer includes all police officers, a Divisional Assistant Government Agent and a Grama Niladharis appointed by a Government Agent (GA) in writing to perform police duties or keep the peace. [3] A peace officer has the power to arrest a person without a warrant or an order from a magistrate under certain circumstances such as; [4]

Sri Lanka Police

The Sri Lanka Police is the civilian national police force of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The police force has a manpower of approximately 77,000, and is responsible for enforcing criminal- and traffic law, enhancing public safety, maintaining order and keeping the peace throughout Sri Lanka. The professional head of the police is the Inspector General of Police who reports to the Minister of Law and Order as well as the National Police Commission. The current Inspector General of Police is Pujith Jayasundara.

Divisional Secretariats of Sri Lanka

The districts of Sri Lanka are divided into administrative sub-units known as divisional secretariats. These were originally based on the feudal counties, the korales and ratas. They were formerly known as 'D.R.O. Divisions' after the 'Divisional Revenue Officer'. Later the D.R.O.s became 'Assistant Government Agents' and the Divisions were known as 'A.G.A. Divisions'. Currently, the Divisions are administered by a 'Divisional Secretary', and are known as 'D.S. Divisions'.

A Grama Niladhari is a Sri Lankan public official appointed by the central government to carry out administrative duties in a grama niladhari division, which is a sub-unit of a divisional secretariat. They come under the Grama Niladhari Division under the Home Affairs Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs. There are 14,022 grama niladhari divisions under 331 divisional secretary’s division in the island.

  1. who in his presence commits any breach of the peace,
  2. who has been concerned in any cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been so concerned,
  3. having in his possession without lawful excuse any implement of house-breaking,
  4. who has been proclaimed as an offender,
  5. in whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected to be property stolen or fraudulently obtained and who may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence with reference to such thing
  6. who obstructs a peace officer while in the execution of his duty or who has escaped or attempts to escape from lawful custody,
  7. suspected of being a military deserter,
  8. suspected of conceal his presence under circumstances which afford reason to believe that he is taking such precautions with a view to committing a cognizable offence,
  9. who has been concerned in or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been concerned in any act committed at any place out of Sri Lanka

During the British colonial administration of Ceylon, when uniformed policing by the Ceylon Police Force in rural areas of the island was limited, the local government agent would appoint individuals from wealthy influential families deemed loyal to the crown as a Peace Officers with police powers to keep the peace. This was an influential post, the holder had much control over the people of the area. Commonly a Native Headman (Muladaniya) was appointed as the Peace Officer to maintain law and order in rural villages. [5]

Following the formation of the State Council of Ceylon in 1931, one of its members, H. W. Amarasuriya, called for an inquiry into the headman system. A commission was formed made up of retired civil servants and lawyers headed by H.M. Wedderburn. The commission reported on reforming the headman system or replacing it with transferable District Revenue Officers. The headman system was abolished as an administrative system, with the titles of Mudaliyar (Mudali - මුදලි) and Muhandiram retained by government to be awarded as honors. This practice remained until suspension of Celonese honors in 1956. The minor headman positions where retained, surviving well into the 1970s when the post of Vidane was replaced with the transferable post of Grama Niladhari (Village Officer).

United States


U.S. Law Enforcement Officers include (but may not be limited to) the following: [6] [7]

  1. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) special agents
  2. Bureau of Diplomatic Security special agents
  3. Constables and deputy constables
  4. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers and U.S. Border Patrol Agents
  5. District Attorneys (State Prosecutor) investigators
  6. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agents
  7. Federal air marshals
  8. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents
  9. Federal Flight Deck Officer
  10. Fire Marshals and deputy fire marshals
  11. Fish and game wardens
  12. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents
  13. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers
  14. Natural resources officers (park rangers and forest rangers)
  15. Office of Mental Health safety/security officers
  16. Police officers, detention officers, Inspectors, Investigators, Detectives, Special Police officers, or Railroad Police officers
  17. Probation officers Corrections officer
  18. Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs/Special Deputy Sheriffs
  19. State Detectives, Investigators or Special Investigators
  20. State troopers/highway patrol officers
  21. Town Marshals and deputy town marshals
  22. U.S. Coast Guard Officers, Warrant Officers, and Petty Officers
  23. United States Marshals and deputy marshals
  24. United States Postal Service postal inspectors
  25. United States Secret Service special agents and uniformed officers
  26. Federal Bureau of Prisons
  27. United States Military Police including, but not limited to, Military Police Corps, Air Force Security Forces, Navy Master-at-Arms/ Marine Corps Police and United States Department of Defense police were recognized as Qualified Law Enforcement Officers with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013


Arizona Revised Statutes defines a peace officer in Title 13, Section 105, as "any person vested by law with a duty to maintain public order and make arrests and includes a constable." Title 1, Section 215(27) enumerates those who are peace officers in the State of Arizona. It includes:

  1. sheriffs of counties
  2. constables
  3. marshals
  4. policemen of cities and towns
  5. commissioned personnel of the department of public safety
  6. personnel who are employed by the state department of corrections and the department of juvenile corrections and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board
  7. peace officers who are appointed by a multi-county water conservation district and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board
  8. police officers who are appointed by community college district governing boards and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board
  9. police officers who are appointed by the Arizona board of regents and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board
  10. police officers who are appointed by the governing body of a public airport pursuant to section 28-8426 and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board
  11. peace officers who are appointed by a private post secondary institution pursuant to section 15-1897 and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board
  12. special agents from the office of the attorney general, or of a county attorney, and who have received a certificate from the Arizona peace officer standards and training board

Arizona Revised Statutes 41-1823 states that except for duly elected or appointed sheriffs and constables, and probation officers in the course of their duties, no person may exercise the authority or perform the duties of a peace officer unless he is certified by the Arizona peace officers standards and training board.


Sections 830 through 831.7 of the California Penal Code [8] list persons who are considered peace officers within the State of California. Peace officers include, in addition to many others,

  1. Police; sheriffs, undersheriffs, and their deputies. (§ 830.1[a])
  2. Investigators of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. (§ 830.3[a])
  3. Inspectors or investigators employed in the office of a district attorney. (§ 830.1[a])
  4. The California Attorney General and special agents and investigators of the California Department of Justice. (§ 830.1[b])
  5. Members of the California Highway Patrol. (§ 830.2[a])
  6. Special agents of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (§ 830.2[d])
  7. California State Park Peace Officers (§ 830.2[f])
  8. Investigators of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. (§ 830.2[h])
  9. Cal Expo Police Officers (§ 830.2[i])(§ 830.3[q])
  10. Investigators of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. (§ 830.3[c])
  11. The State Fire Marshal and assistant or deputy state fire marshals. (§ 830.3[e])
  12. Fraud investigators of the California Department of Insurance. (§ 830.3[i])
  13. Investigators of the Employment Development Department. (§ 830.3[q])
  14. A person designated by a local agency as a Park Ranger 830.31[b]) [9]
  15. Members of the University of California Police Department, California State University Police Department or of a California Community College Police Department. (§ 830.2 [b]&[c]/ 830.32 [a])
  16. Members of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Police Department. (§ 830.33 [a])
  17. Any railroad police officer commissioned by the Governor. (§ 830.33 [e] [1])
  18. Welfare fraud Investigators of the California Department of Social Services. (§ 830.35[a])
  19. County coroners and deputy coroners. (§ 830.35[c])
  20. Firefighter/Security Officers of the California Military Department. (§ PC 830.37)
  21. Hospital Police Officers with the California Department of State Hospitals (used to be California Department of Mental Health) and the California Department of Developmental Services 830.38)
  22. County Probation Officers, County Deputy Probation Officers, Parole officers and correctional officers of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (§ 830.5 [a]&[b])
  23. A security officer for a private university or college deputized or appointed as a reserve deputy sheriff or police officer. (§ 830.75) [10]

Most peace officers have jurisdiction throughout the state, but many have limited powers outside their political subdivision. Some peace officers require special permission to carry firearms. Powers are often limited to performance of peace officers' primary duties (usually, enforcement of specific laws within their political subdivision); however, most have power of arrest anywhere in the state for any public offense [11] that poses immediate danger to person or property.

A private person (i.e., ordinary citizen) may arrest another person for an offense committed in the arresting person's presence, or if the other person has committed a felony whether or not in the arresting person's presence (Penal Code § 837), [12] though such an arrest when an offense has not actually occurred leaves a private person open to criminal prosecution and civil liability for false arrest. A peace officer may:

Persons are required to comply with certain instructions given by a peace officer, and certain acts (e.g., battery) committed against a peace officer carry more severe penalties than the same acts against a private person. It is unlawful to resist, delay, or obstruct a peace officer in the course of the officer's duties (Penal Code § 148[a][1]). [14]

New York State

New York State grants peace officers very specific powers under NYS Criminal Procedure Law, that they may make warrantless arrests, use physical and deadly force, and issue summonses under section 2.20 of that law. [15]

There is a full list of peace officers under Section 2.10 of that law. [15] Below are some examples.

  1. That state has law enforcement agencies contained within existing executive branch departments that employ sworn peace officers to investigate and enforce laws specifically related to the department. Most often, these departments employ sworn Investigators (separate from the New York State Police) that have statewide investigative authority pursuant to the departments mission.
  2. The New York State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) is a state investigative agency housed under the State Department of Health. Narcotic Investigators with the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement are sworn peace officers who carry firearms, make arrests, and enforce the New York State Controlled Substances Act, New York State Penal Law, and New York State Public Health Law.
  3. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance employs sworn peace officers as Excise Tax Investigators and Revenue Crimes Investigators. These State Investigators carry firearms, make arrests, and enforce New York State Penal Law related to tax evasion and other crimes. Excise Tax Investigators may execute Search Warrants.
  4. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Division of Field Investigation also employ sworn peace officers as State Investigators. All DMV Investigators carry Glock 23 firearms and enforce New York State Penal Law and New York Vehicle and Traffic Law. The DMV Division of Field Investigation investigates auto theft, odometer tampering, fraudulent documents and identity theft crimes.[ citation needed ]


Texas Statutes, [16] Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 2.12, provides:

Art. 2.12, WHO ARE PEACE OFFICERS. The following are peace officers:

(1) sheriffs, their deputies, and those reserve deputies who hold a permanent peace officer license issued under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code;
(2) constables, deputy constables, and those reserve deputy constables who hold a permanent peace officer license issued under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code;
(3) marshals or police officers of an incorporated city, town, or village, and those reserve municipal police officers who hold a permanent peace officer license issued under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code;
(4) rangers and officers commissioned by the Public Safety Commission and the Director of the Department of Public Safety;
(5) investigators of the district attorneys', criminal district attorneys', and county attorneys' offices;
(6) law enforcement agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission;
(7) each member of an arson investigating unit commissioned by a city, a county, or the state;
(8) officers commissioned under Section 37.081, Education Code, or Subchapter E, Chapter 51, Education Code;
(9) officers commissioned by the General Services Commission;
(10) law enforcement officers commissioned by the Parks and Wildlife Commission;
(11) airport police officers commissioned by a city with a population of more than 1.18 million that operates an airport that serves commercial air carriers;
(12) airport security personnel commissioned as peace officers by the governing body of any political subdivision of this state, other than a city described by Subdivision (11), that operates an airport that serves commercial air carriers;
(13) municipal park and recreational patrolmen and security officers;
(14) security officers and investigators commissioned as peace officers by the comptroller;
(15) officers commissioned by a water control and improvement district under Section 49.216, Water Code;
(16) officers commissioned by a board of trustees under Chapter 54, Transportation Code;
(17) investigators commissioned by the Texas Medical Board;
(18) officers commissioned by the board of managers of the Dallas County Hospital District, the Tarrant County Hospital District, or the Bexar County Hospital District under Section 281.057, Health and Safety Code;
(19) county park rangers commissioned under Subchapter E, Chapter 351, Local Government Code;
(20) investigators employed by the Texas Racing Commission;
(21) officers commissioned under Chapter 554, Occupations Code;
(22) officers commissioned by the governing body of a metropolitan rapid transit authority under Section 451.108, Transportation Code, or by a regional transportation authority under Section 452.110, Transportation Code;
(23) investigators commissioned by the attorney general under Section 402.009, Government Code;
(24) security officers and investigators commissioned as peace officers under Chapter 466, Government Code;
(25) an officer employed by the Department of State Health Services under Section 431.2471, Health and Safety Code;
(26) officers appointed by an appellate court under Subchapter F, Chapter 53, Government Code;
(27) officers commissioned by the state fire marshal under Chapter 417, Government Code;
(28) an investigator commissioned by the commissioner of insurance under Section 701.104, Insurance Code;
(29) apprehension specialists and inspectors general commissioned by the Texas Youth Commission as officers under Sections 61.0451 and 61.0931, Human Resources Code;
(30) officers appointed by the inspector general of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice under Section 493.019, Government Code;
(31) investigators commissioned by the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education under Section 1701.160, Occupations Code;
(32) commission investigators commissioned by the Texas Private Security Board under Section 1702.061(f), Occupations Code;
(33) the fire marshal and any officers, inspectors, or investigators commissioned by an emergency services district under Chapter 775, Health and Safety Code;
(34) officers commissioned by the State Board of Dental Examiners under Section 254.013, Occupations Code, subject to the limitations imposed by that section; and
(35) investigators commissioned by the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission as officers under Section 141.055, Human Resources Code.

See also

Related Research Articles

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  2. "Corrections and Conditional Release Act (S.C. 1992, c. 20)". Department of Justice Canada. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  3. Code Of Criminal Procedure
  5. "Village notables in colonial Ceylon - The Village Headman was the uncrowned king of the village. He was appointed by the Government Agent from a traditional leading family in the area, in order to ensure that he received customary respect from villagers".
  6. "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition". U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. December 17, 2009. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  7. "Survey of Federal Civilian Law Enforcement Functions and Authorities" (pdf). U.S. Government Accountability Office. December 2006. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  8. "California Penal Code, Part 2, Title 3, Section 830-832.18". Official California Legislative Information. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  9. "California Penal Code, Part 2, Title 3, Chapter 4.5, § 830.31(b). Peace Officers: Local Park Ranger".
  10. "California Penal Code, Part 2, Title 3, Chapter 4.5, § 830.75. Peace Officers: independent institutions of higher education".
  11. Public offenses in California include infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
  12. California Penal Code, Part 2, Title 3, Chapter 5, Arrest and by Whom Made, § 837.
  13. California Penal Code, Part 2, Title 3, Chapter 5, Arrest and by Whom Made, § 836.
  14. California Penal Code, Part 1, Title 7, Chapter 7, Other Offenses Against Public Justice, §148.
  15. 1 2 "Section 2.20 Powers of peace officers". New York State Assembly. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  16. "Art. 2.12. Who Are Peace Officers". Texas Constitution and Statutes. Retrieved 2012-02-07.