This industry classification includes government establishments primarily engaged in law enforcement, traffic safety, police, and other activities related to the enforcement of the law and preservation of order. The National Guard and military police are classified in SIC 9711: National Security. Private establishments primarily engaged in law enforcement, traffic safety, police, and other activities related to law enforcement are classified in SIC 7381: Detective, Guard, and Armored Car Services. Government establishments primarily engaged in prosecution are classified in SIC 9222: Legal Counsel and Prosecution. Government establishments primarily engaged in the collection of law enforcement statistics are classified in SIC 9229: Public Order and Safety, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Police protection encompasses a wide range of protective services, involving many different municipal, state, and federal government agencies. These agencies often have overlapping authority, creating a vast network of law enforcement functions. The broadest authority possible is given to certain federal agencies.
Local police officers have many responsibilities and work in major metropolitan areas, small towns, and rural areas. They may investigate crimes, arbitrate domestic disputes, administer first aid, direct traffic, or investigate fires. Some areas use police on foot, bicycle, or motor patrol, whereas many other officers have desk assignments wherein the voluminous paperwork required for law enforcement is completed. Others may be assigned to special units such as mounted police who patrol on horseback, rescue teams, canine corps, helicopter patrol, or youth gang detail. Some officers become experts of another sort, working in a laboratory doing chemical or microscopic analysis, firearms identification, or handwriting or fingerprint identification. Nearly all police officers must write reports and maintain police records.
Most police organizations have a chain of command similar to that commonly utilized by American military organizations. In large cities, sergeants, lieutenants, and captains direct the work of squads or companies of officers. Ranking officers report to a chief of police or a police commissioner. In small towns, however, the chief of police naturally commands a small force; in some instances, he or she may be the only officer in town.
Generally, local police departments are covered by civil service regulations that require applicants to pass a test for the job. Because of the physical and character demands of the job, applicants must pass a rigorous physical and psychological examination, as well as a background investigation. Each promotion to a higher rank may also require passage of an additional civil service examination.
County sheriffs generally cover rural areas or the outskirts of an incorporated city. In many cases, they are the only local police force, and in others they supplement the city police force. They often work as bailiffs, keeping order in courtrooms, and may work as guards in county jails. Many sheriffs' departments have fewer than 10 uniformed officers.
State police officers patrol highways to enforce traffic laws. They also provide aid to stranded motorists, call for emergency roadside services, and provide traffic control when road repairs are being made and during special events. State police have authority to enforce criminal laws and give traffic citations in local communities away from the highways, in most cases. They may also assist local police in crime investigations or provide crowd control during civil disturbances.
Federal law enforcement efforts include a vast network of special agents that work for various federal agencies and investigate particular types of criminal activity. Federal agents wield much authority because of their nationwide jurisdiction—they can cross state lines and negotiate with law representatives of foreign countries. Border patrol agents are a good example of federal law enforcement efforts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employs special agents who investigate serious crimes such as bank robberies, kidnapping, terrorism, organized crime, theft of government property, and espionage, among other transgressions. The FBI is one of the most technologically advanced law enforcement agencies in the country, and it concentrates its efforts on the most serious offenses. It also is called in to investigate crimes committed across state...