Law enforcement
'' is the activity of some members of government who act in an organized manner to enforce the
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
by discovering, deterring, rehabilitating, or
people who violate the rules and
norm Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy) Norms are concepts ( sentences) of practical import, oriented to effecting an action, rat ...
s governing that society. The term encompasses
police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...

courts A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, govern ...

, and
corrections In criminal justice 350px, United States criminal justice system flowchart. Criminal justice is the delivery of justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo o ...
. Modern state legal codes use the term peace officer, or law enforcement officer, to include every person vested by the legislating state with police power or authority, traditionally, anyone "sworn or badged, who can arrest any person for a violation of criminal law, is included under the umbrella term of law enforcement. Although law enforcement may be most concerned with the prevention and punishment of
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a State (polity), state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, defi ...

s, organizations exist to discourage a wide variety of non-criminal violations of rules and norms, effected through the imposition of less severe consequences such as probation.


Most law enforcement is conducted by some type of
law enforcement agency A law enforcement agency (LEA), in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Curren ...
, with the most typical agency fulfilling this role being the police. Social investment in enforcement through such organizations can be massive, both in terms of the resources invested in the activity, and in the number of people professionally engaged to perform those functions.Kären M. Hess, Christine Hess Orthmann, ''Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice'' (2008), p. 1. Law enforcement agencies tend to be limited to operating within a specified
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
. In some cases, jurisdiction may overlap in between organizations; for example, in the United States, each state has its own statewide law enforcement arms, but the
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Conce ...

Federal Bureau of Investigation
is able to act against certain types of crimes occurring in any state. Various specialized segments of society may have their own internal law enforcement arrangements. For example,
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

organizations may have military police. Until today, law enforcement department professions are dominantly served by Caucasian males in America, even with a growing number of organizations emphasizing on recruitment of females and minorities.

See also

Outline of law enforcement The following Outline (list), outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to law enforcement: Law enforcement – subsystem of society that promotes adherence to the law by discovering and punishing persons who violate rules and nor ...
– structured list of topics related to law enforcement, organized by subject area * Law enforcement by country *
Vigilantism Vigilantism is the act of enforcement, investigation or punishment of perceived offenses without legal authority. A vigilante (from Spanish and Italian ''vigilante'') is practitioner of vigilantism. History Vigilantism and the vigilante ethos ...
Criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
Police abolition movement The police abolition movement is a political movement, largely in the United States, that advocates replacing policing The police are a constituted body of persons A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacitie ...


External links

plate carrier for law enforcement
{{Authority control