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US Law Enforcement Processes and Contributions Essay

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020


In the US, maintaining the society’s security is the primary duty of law enforcement agencies. The order must be maintained, the crimes must be prevented whenever possible, the public must be served. All this is done for the sake of the public good, with law enforcement taking place at three major cooperating levels. These are the local, the state and the federal levels of law enforcement that have their duties distributed among the corresponding agencies.

Law enforcement agencies that function on the local level are used to serve public in situ. It is worth saying that they are at the coal face of law enforcement. Their duties encompass traffic control, going on patrol, assisting the community generally, and providing prompt response and reaction to telephone calls. As it was mentioned, local police operate within their town, which means their actions are subject to limitations beyond their jurisdiction (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2016).

As to the state agencies, their full powers are applicable to state territories. They should also go on patrol, but, in contrast to the local police, the state ones have highways under their jurisdiction. The latter is their major field of operation: the state police are more engaged into traffic control than the local ones; they react to calls and perform investigatory functions. The federal agencies, of which the USA has 24 units employing about 250 – or more – officers, consist of several departments. These include the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and others.

Most officers are assigned with various duties that are determined by federal statute. They investigate and engage into corrective activities. Basically, their tasks are much the same as that of the local and state agencies; one major difference is that the state jurisdiction is broader than that of the federal agencies since the federal agencies act in case different states are involved, or the federation is under threat, or maritime law is broken, etc. (Cole et al., 2016).

Law Enforcement Processes

The diversity of processes and approaches deployed on different levels can be seen in several areas of law enforcement. For example, the protection of individuals is carried out differently. On the local level, the task of the officers is enforcing law in general, reacting to calls, and protecting individuals if the court fails to do so, within their town. State agencies do not have such power, while federal ones make sure the higher executives are safe.

The traffic control is also tackled differently due to the diversity in jurisdiction. The state and local agencies tackle traffic safety issues by patrolling across the states and within the cities, respectively. On the federal level, there is the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) that is subdivided into several agencies. The duty of these departments is to ensure traffic safety out of the state jurisdiction by land and by sea. Another point of variability is the crime procedure. Locally, the officers sort out paperwork and document the crime scenes using photo- and video-recording.

On the state level, they conduct the search and seizure and make sure all the officers involved do it by the protocol. Federal agencies act when the crime involves more than one state or concerns the security if the US and her borders. The involvement of borders is yet another area where the agencies act diversely. Federal agents are responsible for preventing the state border violations and smuggling, while the state and local ones watch their own jurisdiction boundaries (Cole et al., 2016).

August Vollmer

One of the leading figures of modernization in law enforcement was August Vollmer. This remarkable person started his ascend in the 1900s and belonged to the second generation of innovators who had made attempts at reshaping the stagnated American law enforcement structure. Among other pioneer reformers was Richard Sylvester, a superintendent in Washington D. C. Vollmer, Sylvester and others fought for an increase in the efficiency and standards of policing, as well as non-interference on the part of the politicians and the utilization of enhanced technologies.

In 1936, Vollmer’s work “The Police and Modern Society” was given to the world (Conser, Paynich, & Gingerich, 2011). Subsequent works regarded it as the most authoritative piece of writing in the field. However, the reorganization was commenced earlier, soon after Vollmer became the police chief of Berkeley. Long before writing his fateful book, in the mid-1900s, he has made quite a significant amount of research, reading Austrian and French literature due to the lack of native writing on the subject of law enforcement.

The modernization program was based on his findings, for the best part of it. In 1905, he established bicycle patrol, which was later equipped with motorcycles. Thanks to Vollmer, the police record system has become centrally managed, thus greatly enhancing the investigation order. Also, the call box practice was developed and expanded into a network. In addition, Vollmer was a great believer in education, which is why he planked up the standards of recruitment and made sure all the officers were college graduates (Conser et al., 2011).

These techniques – as well as some others – have developed together with the law enforcement, but the basic ideas are still used. The patrolling has become more efficient with the usage of vehicles such as bikes and cars. The call boxes are used less than they have been, but being placed at intervals in the highways and at every city corner, they have undoubtedly been regarded as lifesavers in case of various accidents and disasters. The criminal records have influenced all three levels of law enforcement by providing adequate criminal history.

As to the education, the officers got the chance to be taught criminal justice and receive essential training in a more organized manner, which has made for higher-qualified human recourses (Conser et al., 2011). Possibly, without Vollmer and other crucial figures, law enforcement would be less organized, and it would also take longer for new technologies to be implemented by police. To me, the education is the most important implication of August Vollmer. The reason is, this remarkable person has managed to organize the whole plethora of existing practices and develop the system which has later become a field of study. Also, the systematization has catalyzed the professionalization of policing and served to diminish corruption.


The latter is an important aspect since it has reduced the distance between the citizens and the police and contributed to the establishment of mutual trust and respect. As a result, today we have an enhanced system of tracking, detecting, and preventing crime, as well as enforcing the law and maintaining order on all levels.


Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2016). The American System of Criminal Justice (15th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Conser, J. A., Paynich, R., & Gingerich, T. E. (2011). Law Enforcement in the United States. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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