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  1. #1
    Hawk1's Avatar
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    Todays stupid question

    Sitting at work last night, the guys and I started talking about US law enforcement and nobody new how many services you have. In Australia, we have one police force for the entire state and that's it. We are not recognised as indiviual police services..its just 'Victoria police'.

    So the question is this, what is the difference between a police dept and sheriffs office? I assume you all do the same job but under different names? Also, it seems that each major town or city has its own police service? True or false?
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  2. #2
    BabyGirl is offline Rookie
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    I'm not an officer but I think the difference is that the police dept. patrols their city, and the sheriff dept. patrols the county that encompasses many cities. There are also state police. Not totally sure about this.

  3. #3
    hybrid's Avatar
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    That is correct. we have state police, which work the roadways, working traffic. writing citations, working wrecks. then in each state, we have parishes/counties, which is for the sheriff's office. the sheriff's office works that whole parish. inside each parish is several cities. the cities that are big enough, have their own police department, they work strictly that city, anything else outside the cities belong to the sheriff's office. for instance a smaller town that has a small population or the country side and all that good stuff is all for the sheriff's office. sheriff's office still has powers in the city even if there's a police dept. there, but the sheriff's office won't usually handle complaints there, but can enforce the law there. then we have several government agencies. we also have city marshalls and constables.....not too sure of their duties though. i am speaking of Louisiana only, I know all 50 states are similar to this, but may do things a little differently, but it's right for the most part. hope this helped ya out.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hybrid View Post
    That is correct. we have state police, which work the roadways, working traffic. writing citations, working wrecks. then in each state, we have parishes/counties, which is for the sheriff's office. the sheriff's office works that whole parish. inside each parish is several cities. the cities that are big enough, have their own police department, they work strictly that city, anything else outside the cities belong to the sheriff's office. for instance a smaller town that has a small population or the country side and all that good stuff is all for the sheriff's office. sheriff's office still has powers in the city even if there's a police dept. there, but the sheriff's office won't usually handle complaints there, but can enforce the law there. then we have several government agencies. we also have city marshalls and constables.....not too sure of their duties though. i am speaking of Louisiana only, I know all 50 states are similar to this, but may do things a little differently, but it's right for the most part. hope this helped ya out.
    +1, only there ARE slight differences in the duties/responsibilities of municiple vs county officers, such as the county deputies handle more civil papers, etc than municiple officers do.
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  5. #5
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    slick628 is offline Rollin' Deep
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    In Colorado it works a little different. For the most part, police handle the cities, and sheriffs handle the county/rural areas. In addition, the sheriff offices handle the jails, and the city depts use the county jails. Denver is even more different. The police handle both the city and county of Denver. Yet, all Denver Sheriff's do is handle the jails and courts. Then there is state patrol. They handle rural areas, but 98% of the time, they act as a highway patrol. Due to agreements, State can't touch Denver. Denver is considered a "home rule" city, so any incident that happens, even on the highway is handled by Denver.

  6. #6
    hybrid's Avatar
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    perfect example of how things are different. that is strange. our sheriff's dept. do handle courts and papers and all. we have parish jails, but some cities also have city jails. our state police is our highway patrol.......guess us coonasses do it different........crazy ass cajuns.....j/k

  7. #7
    J-WS6 is offline What Willis was talking about
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    In Florida;

    Florida Dept of Law Enforcement (FDLE);

    FDLE is the "state police" of Florida. They are purely investigative and do not have a regular uniform division. They run the state crime lab, and investigate officer-involved shootings. They also lend resorces to smaller agencies that do not have, for instance, a CSI unit for processing a large scene. They are the Florida Equivelent to the FBI. FDLE has statewide juristiction.

    Florida Highway patrol (FHP);

    FHP has statewide juristiction for all criminal and motor vehicle statutes, although they do not have a regular investigative wing. Even though they have full Law Enforcement powers, they are mostly limited to highway traffic enforcement and working crashes outside of cities, and on the Florida Turnpike. FHP does not respond to calls-for-service, exept crashes. FHP does occasionally partake in joint operations with FDLE/Sheriff's Offices/City Police/other state agencies. FHP lends manpower to other juristictions when needed (Such as after hurricanes).

    County Sheriff's Offices;

    All Florida's counties, exept Miami-Dade county, have a Sheriff's office. The Sheriff is a constitutional officer, and is elected by the residents of the county - and is not bound by the county governement - although the budget comes from County government. Sheriff's are the only constitutionally recognised Law Enforcement (Other than FHP). The Sheriff is concidered the "Top" law Enforcement officer within a county, and the Sheriff & his deputies have ultimate juristiction anywhere within the county (Including in cities). Sheriff's are authorized to serve civil papers, whereas City Police are not. Sheriff's typically run a jail (Several counties do not). The Sheriff is responsible for court security in his county. The Sheriff's Office responds to calls to service in un-incoperated areas of the county, and inside cities when requested. Typically does not work crashes.

    City Police;

    An incooperated City may form its own Police Department. That Police Dept has only juristiction within its own city, and none outside (A City of Miami Police officer can not stop somebody in unincoperated Miami-Dade county, unless Mutual Aid has been requested). City Police respond to calls for service within the city limits and typically do not have a jail. Cities typically work their own crashes.

    There are several other state law enforcement agencies, but I wont go into that.

  8. #8
    CountyFourteen's Avatar
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    here county runs the jail, serves the civil papers, yes catches the calls in the county...but as in another post we also enforce the laws in the city as well...if we see it, to help out etc...the cities also help out in the county as well. The county also runs the "dog teams", we have the department of transportation, state troopers, department of natural resources, animal control, litter control, SLED (state law enforcement division) and probably a few others I didn't mention, lol

    The funny thing is our office is in the city.......so if something happens at our office....it is city that responds, lol
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  9. #9
    Ducky's Avatar
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    Highway Patrol here also covers not just traffic (statewide) but there's a couple of strange ass divisions like Bureau of Protective Services that cover security for politicians as well as the Academy and the tax revenue offices, just to name a few.
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  10. #10
    conalabu is offline Grasshopper
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    And then there are the Federal divisions. Which, I believe, there is at least one Law Enofrcement arm for every Department of the government. Basically, there are four levels of LE. The cities/towns (municipalities), then the county, then state, then federal. Each level has different divisions in it with very specific jurisdictions. In the end, an extremely complicated system.
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  11. #11
    Jackalope's Avatar
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    One big difference between a Sheriff's Office and a Police Department is that the Sheriff is an elected position. Police Chiefs are not normally elected, but appointed by the mayor and/or city council.

    Some places have gone to having County Police instead of a Sheriff's Office, and still other places have both County Police and a Sheriff's Office within the same county.

    Don't forget the states that have Township Police, too. Or city Marshalls.

    Confused yet?
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    I would pass"
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  12. #12
    TXPO710's Avatar
    TXPO710 is offline Dumb ole' Cowboy
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    Try this out for Texas:
    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 State Board of
    Medical Examiners;
    (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 Texas Department of Health
    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 Article 1.10D, Insurance Code;
    (29) apprehension specialists commissioned by the Texas
    Youth Commission as officers under Section 61.0931, Human Resources
    Code;
    (30) officers appointed by the executive director 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
    Commission on Private Security 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; and
    (34) officers commissioned by the State Board of Dental
    Examiners under Section 254.013, Occupations Code, subject to the
    limitations imposed by that section.

  13. #13
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    Willowdared is offline Bendy not Breaky
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    In California....

    We have California Highway Patrol. They are traffic enforcement for the states highway/freeway system and all unincorporated areas. They absorbed the State Police, so they provide security for the Governor and visiting dignitaries, as well as investigating crimes on State property.

    The Sheriff is an elected office on the County level. Usually in charge of the jails, courts, and considered the "supreme" law enforcement officer of the county. So if there was a problem with any local police department, the Sheriff would investigate.

    In San Diego County, the Sheriff runs the jails, provides court security and absorbed the Marshall's, so we serve civil papers. We also have 9 cities that have chosen to contract with us for their law enforcement needs. One of those cities was actually by default - they went bankrupt, and as mandated by oath of office, the Sheriff stepped in and absorbed the department.
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  14. #14
    bird1's Avatar
    bird1 is offline Corporal
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    Here in Illinois like every other state its seperated into counties. the local sherrifs dept runs the county and has juristiction in every city within the county whereas the city police dept only has juristiction in their own city. for example i live in Cook County(AKA Crook County) the Cook County Sheriffs dept runs all courts, county buildings, jails, etc. to avoid any confusion with the public the sheriffs that patrol and enforce the laws are called the Cook County Sherriffs Police.
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  15. #15
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    As I'm sure you've gathered -- each state here in the USA is different.

    Here in VA, it's even different in different counties!

    In many counties, especially in the more rural area, the Sheriff & his/her deputies ARE the law in the county. They handle all the "police" calls, they handle the courts and their paper, and typically (though not always) run the jails. Cities, towns, and a very few private communities or similar entities may have their own police departments to handle criminal and traffic issues within their boundaries. (A few cities even have their own sheriff!)

    In more suburban/urban counties, the law enforcement/police function has typically been split off into a separate police department. The sheriff and his deputies in these cases remain full law enforcement officers with full authority -- but they generally only handle the courts, civil process, and the jails (unless a separate corrections department exists). Cities and towns still have the ability to have their own police departments; some do, some don't.

    At the state level, the Department of State Police handles law enforcement state wide. Troopers in areas with large police departments or sheriff's offices often focus primarily on the interstate highways -- but in many places (again, mostly the more rural areas), the troopers handle all the "normal" cop calls as well, or at least are backup to the locals. In VA -- troopers are police, they're not solely highway patrol.

    Generally, a county or municipal police officer's authority is limited to their jurisdiction (plus a statutorily defined border area), on or off duty. Sheriff's deputies, who derive their authority from the Virginia Constitution, actually have full authority anywhere in the Commonwealth. And, of course, State Police Troopers have full authority anywhere in the Commonwealth.

  16. #16
    Pedro56's Avatar
    Pedro56 is offline Englewood Ranger/Infidel Extraordinaire
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    Quote Originally Posted by bird1 View Post
    Here in Illinois like every other state its seperated into counties. the local sherrifs dept runs the county and has juristiction in every city within the county whereas the city police dept only has juristiction in their own city. for example i live in Cook County(AKA Crook County) the Cook County Sheriffs dept runs all courts, county buildings, jails, etc. to avoid any confusion with the public the sheriffs that patrol and enforce the laws are called the Cook County Sherriffs Police.
    Don't forget they handle all the Unicorperated areas in the county. The only sheriffs with powers to arrest are the Sheriffs police. They really don't come into the city and play to much they hit the burbs up a lot.
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  17. #17
    Jackalope's Avatar
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    I also forgot to mention, Port Police (seaports and/or airports), Transit Police, University Police, and School Police.
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
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  18. #18
    Hawk1's Avatar
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    Well, that's as clear as mud! Seriously, thanks everyone for your input. Its very interesting to see just how different things can be.

    Cheers
    Dave
    "Contrary to popular belief, you will not rise to the occasion, but will fall to the level of your training"

  19. #19
    Coloradocop's Avatar
    Coloradocop is offline It's the PoPo
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    Quote Originally Posted by slick628 View Post
    In Colorado it works a little different. For the most part, police handle the cities, and sheriffs handle the county/rural areas. In addition, the sheriff offices handle the jails, and the city depts use the county jails. Denver is even more different. The police handle both the city and county of Denver. Yet, all Denver Sheriff's do is handle the jails and courts. Then there is state patrol. They handle rural areas, but 98% of the time, they act as a highway patrol. Due to agreements, State can't touch Denver. Denver is considered a "home rule" city, so any incident that happens, even on the highway is handled by Denver.
    You beat me to it.... Welcome to LEF. Who do you work for? Are you also Denver?

 

 

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