A law enforcement officer (LEO),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 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.
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 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) a mayor, warden, reeve, sheriff, deputy sheriff, sheriff's officer, and justice of the peace,
- (b) a member of the Correctional Service of Canada who is designated as a peace officer pursuant to Part I of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and a warden, deputy warden, instructor, keeper, jailer, guard and any other officer or permanent employee of a prison other than a penitentiary as defined in Part I of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act,
- (c) a police officer, police constable, bailiff, constable, or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace or for the service or execution of civil process,
- (d) an officer within the meaning of the Customs Act, the Excise Act or the Excise Act, 2001, or a person having the powers of such an officer, when performing any duty in the administration of any of those Acts,
- (d.1) an officer authorized under subsection 138(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act ,
- (e) a person designated as a fishery guardian under the Fisheries Act when performing any duties or functions under that Act and a person designated as a fishery officer under the Fisheries Act when performing any duties or functions under that Act or the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act,
- (f) the pilot in command of an aircraft
- (i) registered in Canada under regulations made under the Aeronautics Act, or
- (ii) leased without crew and operated by a person who is qualified under regulations made under the Aeronautics Act to be registered as owner of an aircraft registered in Canada under those regulations, while the aircraft is in flight, and
- (g) officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces who are
- (i) appointed for the purposes of section 156 of the National Defence Act , (Military Police) or
- (ii) employed on duties that the Governor in Council, in regulations made under the National Defence Act for the purposes of this paragraph, has prescribed to be of such a kind as to necessitate that the officers and non-commissioned members performing them have the powers of peace officers;
The National Defence Act is the primary enabling legislation for organizing and funding Canada's military.
The Canadian Forces Military Police (CFMP) contribute to the effectiveness and readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces (CF) and the Department of National Defence (DND) through the provision of professional police, security and operational support services worldwide.
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.
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.
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:
- 10. The Commissioner may in writing designate any staff member, either by name or by class, to be a peace officer, and a staff member so designated has all the powers, authority, protection and privileges that a peace officer has by law in respect of
- (a) an offender subject to a warrant or to an order for long-term supervision; and
- (b) any person, while the person is in a penitentiary.
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.
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.A peace officer has the power to arrest a person without a warrant or an order from a magistrate under certain circumstances such as;
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.
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.
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.
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).
U.S. Law Enforcement Officers include (but may not be limited to) the following:
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:
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 Codelist persons who are considered peace officers within the State of California. Peace officers include, in addition to many others,
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 offensethat 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), 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]).
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.
There is a full list of peace officers under Section 2.10 of that law.Below are some examples.
Texas Statutes,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.
Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.
A Fire Marshal or fire commissioner, in the United States and Canada, is often a member of a state, provincial or territorial government, but may be part of a building department or a separate department altogether. Fire marshals' duties vary but usually include fire code enforcement or investigating fires for origin and cause. Fire marshals may be sworn law-enforcement officers and are often experienced firefighters. In larger cities with substantially developed fire departments the local fire departments are sometimes delegated some of the duties of the fire marshal.
In some countries, security police are those persons employed by or for a governmental agency or corporations with large campuses who provide police and security services to those agencies' properties.
Campus police or university police in the United States, Canada are often sworn police officers employed by a college or university to protect that private property of the campus and surrounding areas and the people who live, work, and visit it.
In some countries, resisting arrest is a criminal charge against an individual who has committed, depending on the jurisdiction, at least one of the following acts:
"Stop and identify" statutes are statutory laws in the United States that authorize police to legally demand the identity of someone whom they reasonably suspect of having committed a crime. If there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed, an individual is not required to provide identification, even in "Stop and ID" states.
The power of arrest is a mandate given by a central authority that allows an individual to remove a criminal's liberty. The power of arrest can also be used to protect a person, or persons from harm or to protect damage to property.
The Hawaii Department of Public Safety is a department within the executive branch of the government of the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is headquartered in Room 400 in the 919 Ala Moana Boulevard building in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Department of Public Safety is made up of three divisions.
A person is guilty of obstructing government administration if the person intentionally interferes by force, violence or intimidation or by any physical act with a public servant performing or purporting to perform an official function. This goes for the obstruction of any police officer, constable, sheriff’s deputy, conservation ranger, state trooper, detective, or any EMT or other authorized medical technician or firefighter with violence or force during the performance of their duties. Also it is a felony for any person to interfere with any government official such as any duly sworn law enforcement official such as any police officer, prison guard, corrections officer, conservation ranger, marshal, sheriff’s deputy, jailer, or probation officer by the expelling or throwing of human or animal urine, feces, blood, vomitus, or seminal fluid on him or her while engaging in the performance of his or her official duties.
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) is a United States federal law, enacted in 2004, that allows two classes of persons—the "qualified law enforcement officer" and the "qualified retired or separated law enforcement officer"—to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with certain exceptions.
The Texas constable is provided for in the Texas Constitution of 1876, which calls for the election of a constable in each Texas precinct of a county, and counties may have between one and eight precincts each depending on their population. The term of office for Texas constables is four years. However, when vacancies arise, the commissioner's court of the respective county has the authority to appoint a replacement to serve out the remaining term. If no person is elected and qualified under law to fill an office of constable for seven consecutive years, the respective commissioner's court may declare the office dormant and it may not be filled by election or appointment. However, the commissioner's court may reinstate the office by a majority vote or by calling an election where a majority of precinct voters approve it.
Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983), is a United States Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of vague laws that allow police to demand that "loiterers" and "wanderers" provide identification.
In the United States, a sheriff is an official in a county or independent city responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing the law. Unlike most officials in law enforcement in the United States, sheriffs are usually elected, although many states have state laws requiring that a person possess certain law enforcement qualifications before being able to run for the office. Elected sheriffs are accountable directly to the constitution of their state, the United States Constitution, statutes, and the citizens of their county.
Law enforcement in New York City is carried out by numerous law enforcement agencies. New York City has the highest concentration of law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Refusing to assist a police officer, peace officer or other law enforcement officer is an offence in various jurisdictions around the world. Some jurisdictions use the terminology 'refusing to aid a police officer' or 'failure to aid a police officer'.
The Hartford County Sheriff's Department was a 300-person law enforcement agency that served the twenty-nine towns of Hartford County, Connecticut in North Central Connecticut. Hartford County was constituted in 1666. The Code of 1650 of the General Court of Connecticut allowed "the marshall" to collect fees for the service of executions and attachments and fines for breaches of law. In 1698, marshals became "sheriffs." In 1722, sheriffs were given the duty of conserving the peace and could command people to help them. Two years later, each sheriff became responsible for the jail in his county, with the right to appoint people as "keepers." In 1766, limits were placed on the number of deputies a high sheriff could appoint, although on special occasions other people could be used as well.
In the United States, there is no consistent use of the office of constable throughout the states, and use may even vary within a state. A constable may be an official responsible for service of process: such as summonses and subpoenas for people to appear in court in criminal and/or civil matters. On the other hand, they can be fully empowered law enforcement officers. Constables may also have additional specialized duties unique to the office. In some states, a constable may be appointed by the governor or a judge or magistrate of the court which he or she serves; in others the constable is an elected or appointed position at the state or local level of local government. Their jurisdiction can vary from statewide to county/parish and local township boundaries based on the state's laws.