Law enforcement agency
Outside North America, such organizations are usually called
|Other terms defined in this article|
|international law enforcement agency|
|multinational law enforcement agency|
|federal law enforcement agency|
|national law enforcement agency|
LEAs which have their ability to apply their powers restricted in some way are said to operate within a
LEAs will have some form of geographic restriction on their ability to apply their powers. The LEA might be able to apply its powers within a country, for example the
LEAs which operate across a collection of countries tend to assist in law enforcement activities, rather than directly enforcing laws, by facilitating the sharing of information necessary for law enforcement between LEAs within those countries, for example
Sometimes a LEA's jurisdiction is determined by the complexity or seriousness of the non compliance with a law. Some countries determine the jurisdiction in these circumstances by means of policy and resource allocation between agencies, for example in
A LEA which has a wide range of powers but whose ability is restricted geographically, typically to an area which is only part of a country, is typically referred to as local police or
A LEA's jurisdiction usually also includes the governing bodies they support, and the LEA itself.
Jurisdictionally, there can be an important difference between international LEAs and multinational LEAs, even though both are often referred to as "international", even in official documents. An international law enforcement agency has jurisdiction and or operates in multiple countries and across
A multinational law enforcement agency will typically operate in only one country, or one division of a country, but is made up of personnel from several countries, for example the
Within a country, the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies can be organized and structured in a number of ways to provide law enforcement throughout the country. A law enforcement agency's jurisdiction can be for the whole country or for a division or sub-division within the country.
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LEA jurisdiction for a division within a country can typically be at more than one level, for example at the division level, that is state, province, or territory level, and for example at the sub division level, that is county, shire, or municipality or metropolitan area level. In Australia for example, each state has its own LEAs. In the United States for example, typically each state and county or city has its own LEAs.
As a result, because both Australia and the United States are federations and have federal LEAs, Australia has two levels of law enforcement and the United States has multiple levels of law enforcement, Federal, Tribal, State, County, City, Town, Village, special Jurisdiction and others.
Often a LEA's jurisdiction will be geographically divided into operations areas for administrative and logistical efficiency reasons. An operations area is often called a command or an office.
While the operations area of a LEA is sometimes referred to as a jurisdiction, any LEA operations area usually still has legal jurisdiction in all geographic areas the LEA operates, but by policy and consensus the operations area does not normally operate in other geographical operations areas of the LEA. For example, the
Sometimes the one legal jurisdiction is covered by more than one LEA, again for administrative and logistical efficiency reasons, or arising from policy, or historical reasons. For example, the area of jurisdiction of English and Welsh law is covered by a number of LEAs called constabularies, each of which has legal jurisdiction over the whole area covered by English and Welsh law, but they do not normally operate out of their areas without formal liaison between them.
The primary difference between separate agencies and operational areas within the one legal jurisdiction is the degree of flexibility to move resources between versus within agencies. When multiple LEAs cover the one legal jurisdiction, each agency still typically organizes itself into operations areas.
When a LEA's jurisdiction is for the whole country, it is usually one of two broad types, either federal or national.
The responsibilities of a federal LEA vary from country to country. Federal LEA responsibilities are typically countering fraud against the federation, immigration and border control regarding people and goods, investigating currency counterfeiting, policing of airports and protection of designated national infrastructure, national security, and the protection of the country's
A federal police agency is a federal LEA which also has the typical police responsibilities of social order and
Examples of federal law enforcement agencies are the
A federated approach to the organisation of a country does not necessarily indicate the nature of the organisation of law enforcement agencies within the country. Some countries, for example
In a federation, there will typically be separate LEAs with jurisdictions for each division within the federation. A federal LEA will have primary responsibility for laws which affect the federation as whole, and which have been enacted by the governing body of the federation.
Members of a federal LEA may be given jurisdiction within a division of a federation for laws enacted by the governing bodies of the divisions either by the relevant division within the federation, or by the
Typically federal LEAs have relatively narrow police responsibilities, the individual divisions within the federation usually establish their own police agencies to enforce laws within the division. However, in some countries federal agencies have jurisdiction in divisions of the federation.
This typically happens when the division does not have its own independent status and is dependent on the federation. For example, the
Note that this is a direct jurisdictional responsibility and is different from the situation when a governing body makes arrangements with another governing body's LEA to provide law enforcement for its subjects. This latter type of arrangement is described under Establishment and constitution of law enforcement agencies.
In federal polities, actions that violate laws in multiple geographical divisions within the federation are escalated to a federal LEA. In other cases, specific crimes deemed to be serious are escalated. For example, in the United States, the FBI has responsibility for the investigation of all
Typically LEAs working in different jurisdictions which overlap in the type of law non compliance actively establish mechanisms for cooperation and even establish joint operations and joints task forces. Often, members of a LEA working outside of their normal jurisdiction on joint operations or task force are sworn in as special members of the host jurisdiction.
A national law enforcement agency is a LEA in a country which does not have divisions capable of making their own laws. A national LEA will have the combined responsibilities that federal LEAs and divisional LEAs would have in a
National LEAs are usually divided into operations areas.
A national police agency is a national LEA which also has the typical police responsibilities of social order and public safety as well as national law enforcement responsibilities. Examples of countries with national police agencies are
To help avoid confusion over jurisdictional responsibility, some federal LEAs explicitly advise that they are not a national law enforcement agency, for example the