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What are the Different Types of Local Law Enforcement?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 23, 2024
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Local law enforcement officers are respected community leaders who help to ensure the safety of citizens and property. Individuals must meet extensive training requirements to prepare themselves for difficult situations, dangerous criminals, and investigative work. There are many different types of local law enforcement, including patrolling officers, emergency responders, parking enforcement officials, event supervisors, security guards, investigators, and detectives.

Many local law enforcement workers are uniformed police officers who patrol the streets, keeping an eye out for citizens in need and criminal activity. An officer may work alone or with a partner to cover a specified area of a city or rural setting. Most professionals conduct patrols in police cars, though some officers ride horses or walk their beats. Individuals are typically equipped with handcuffs for detaining criminals, weapons such as firearms, batons, stun guns, and pepper spray to control dangerous situations, and radios to report activity and call for help if necessary. Police officers write citations, investigate suspicious activity, create reports, and provide assistance to crime victims.

When a patrolling officer or expert emergency responder is called to the scene of a crime, he or she must forgo the usual beat to assist citizens and other officers. Responders receive information about the location and nature of a crime over their radios, and proceed immediately to the scene. An officer may be required to seek and chase down suspects as well as confirm the health and security of witnesses and crime victims. Emergency responders and patrol officers detain criminals, interview bystanders, write detailed police reports, and take offenders to holding cells at local police stations.

Some local law enforcement professionals specialize in providing security and crowd control for large events. Professionals often screen people entering public buildings and stadiums to confirm that they do not possess any weapons or prohibited substances. An officer may also direct traffic outside of a popular event or make sure that parking rules are followed. Some city police officials perform routine checks of parking meters and public parking structures, writing citations when necessary and providing helpful instructions to citizens.

Professional detectives are essential in local law enforcement operations. A detective uses his or her specialized investigative skills to identify suspects, solve difficult cases, and present evidence in court proceedings. He or she might perform undercover surveillance work to catch criminals in the act, or interrogate suspects to uncover more information about a case. Detectives are often called upon in trials and legal hearings to present evidence and provide expert testimony.

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Discussion Comments

By jcraig — On Oct 10, 2011

@stl156 - I am glad that I now know what that blue light was. I always wondered exactly what the flashing blue light in someone's windshield was and I always pulled over just to be safe and avoid a ticket, but now I know what it is.

The EMTs in my town are people that are usually the first to respond to an emergency situation and when they get there first they take control of the situation until the ambulance workers can get there. The EMT's usually have a lot of training and a lot of experience and people are in good hands with them.

By stl156 — On Oct 09, 2011

Where I live, which is in a rural area, we have emergency responders who are volunteers.

The local fire department is entirely made up of volunteers that have been properly trained to deal with fires and the emergency responders are mostly made up of EMT's who have received a bit of training in crisis situations and are legally allowed to have emergency lights in their personal vehicles to respond to various emergencies.

Usually the EMT's have a blue light on their dashboard that allows them to respond to emergencies and let people know that they need to get out of the way. By law cars are required to pull over and give these EMT's the road so they can respond to their emergency just like for an ambulance, police squad car, or fire truck.

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