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State Law Enforcement: Agencies, Roles & Models

State Law Enforcement: Agencies, Roles & Models
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  • 0:01 State Law Enforcement
  • 0:45 Functions
  • 2:35 Models
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

State law enforcement agencies work hard to prevent and investigate crimes within each state. But what exactly does that mean? And what types of law enforcement agencies are there? Watch this lesson to find out more.

State Law Enforcement

Jimmy's cousin just told him that she's joining the state police. Jimmy is really excited for her, but he's not sure what exactly that means. What does state law enforcement do, anyway?

Law enforcement is tasked with the detection and prevention of crime. There are three levels of law enforcement: federal, which investigates crimes at the national level; state, which keeps the peace within a specific state; and local, which is in charge of law and order in a specific municipality.

But Jimmy's still a little confused about state police. He understands that they are in charge of the detection and prevention of crime across his state, but he's not sure what that entails or what his cousin will be doing. Let's look closer at the functions and models of state law enforcement.

Functions

Jimmy understands that, as a member of the state police, his cousin will be helping to keep the peace within the state through the detection and prevention of crime. But all that sounds really general. He wonders what his cousin will actually be doing on a day-to-day basis.

There are several specific functions that state police fill within their respective states. They include:

1. Traffic law enforcement - If someone's speeding down the highway in the middle of nowhere, it's the state police that will stop the person and issue a traffic ticket. They are in charge of enforcing traffic laws throughout the state but especially in areas that are not covered by local law enforcement, like out in rural areas or on state highways.

2. Investigate and prevent crime - Let's say a criminal commits a crime in two different counties. There are two different local police squads that could investigate. In that case, and other cases where crimes occur in multiple jurisdictions, the state police get involved and lead the investigation.

3. Support local law enforcement - Some small towns have very limited resources. They might not have people who are used to investigating murders, for example, or they might just need some extra help when there's a big influx of tourists around. When local law enforcement agencies don't have the resources to do their jobs, the state police can offer to help out.

4. Provide other services as needed - There are many supplemental services that police officers can provide to a community, and state police are no different. This could range from responding to an emergency and helping with crowd control to leading training for citizens and local law enforcement officials to helping provide protection for certain people.

Models

Jimmy is starting to get a better picture of what his cousin will be doing when she joins his state's law enforcement, but he's still not sure what group she'll be working with. He lives in Texas, and there are two types of state law enforcement there, the Texas Rangers and the Texas Highway Patrol. Which one is state law enforcement?

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