Roles and Functions of Law Enforcement


The law enforcement component of the U.S. criminal justice system includes more than just policing. Here, you will explore the varied roles, functions, and communications of law enforcement.

All resources that can be found in your textbook, Introduction to Criminal Justice Interactive eBook, will be preceded by the word Textbook (e.g., Textbook Journal or Textbook Video). These resources can be easily located in the Media Library at the beginning of each chapter in the textbook. You will also find them embedded in the text as you complete your reading assignments.

TextbookIntroduction to Criminal Justice Interactive eBook, Chapter 5 (pp. 117–121, History of policing and different eras and styles; pp. 123–134, Federal, state, and local agencies and structure)

This chapter focuses on the organization and operation of specific federal law enforcement agencies, and the roles and functions of state and local agencies such as municipal police and county sheriffs. It includes a brief examination of Interpol. The chapter begins with a history of the English and colonial roots of policing, and a review of the three eras of policing after its arrival in the United States. After you review this resource, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How did the policing that began in England evolve into the four major police-related offices that make up our law enforcement system?
  • What are the duties and functions of selected federal law enforcement agencies, and the departments into which they are organized?

Make sure you watch this video contained within your textbook resource:

Textbook Video: Author Video 5.1: National Police Force (1:35)
This video introduces the idea of a national police force and discusses several arguments for and against it.

ArticleSpecial Jurisdiction Law Enforcement Agencies

This article will expand your knowledge. It defines Special Jurisdiction Law Enforcement Agencies, identifies the different types, and breaks down various roles within those agencies. After you review this resource, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are SJLEAs, and who administers them?
  • How many different types of SJLEAs have been identified, and what are they?
  • What types of organizations/entities are SJLEAs charged with serving?

Reading21st Century Criminology: A Reference HandbookChapter 94: Police–Community Relations
This reading will expand your knowledge. It discusses the importance of police-community relations by providing a historical perspective and examining how the relationship has changed over time. It also explores some successful approaches police departments have taken to improve community relations. After you review this resource, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are the three historical periods of modern American policing, and what characterized each period?
  • What are the significant policing changes since the 1980s?
  • Why is it important for law enforcement agencies to have good community relations?



CJ-112-J7904 Intro to Criminal Justice 23EW3-Module 2

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