Law Enforcement and Security Essay

Pages: 15 (5516 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Law Enforcement and Security

In the United States, there are a number of different components, both private and public, which work together to create the system that is referred to, collectively, as the criminal justice system. Two of these components are law enforcement and security. Law enforcement and private security professionals carry out many of the same job tasks, but do so in different capacities, which means that there are a number of similarities and differences in their job descriptions. For the most part, law enforcement and private security work together as part of the criminal justice system, but there are times when they may goals and aims that actually conflict. Understanding how the two systems interact is, therefore, a critical part of understanding the criminal justice system.

Public Sector

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Law enforcement refers to a number of different agencies that act in the public interest to enforce local, state, and federal laws. At the federal level, the two best-known law enforcement agencies are the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), though there are additional agencies, such as Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and the Transportation Safety Agency which have quasi-law enforcement functions and serve the public sector. At the state level, law enforcement agencies vary by state, but most states do have at least one state-level law enforcement agency. These agencies may be something like the Texas Rangers, game wardens, parks and statewide Department of Public Safety Officers. These officers would have jurisdiction over state-level laws and would be able to enforce them throughout an entire state. In addition, in most states, even local-level law enforcement officers would need to be certified at a state level. While they may not have jurisdiction throughout the state, they probably have the ability to enforce laws in certain areas and the duty to enforce certain laws when they see violations. However, these rules and regulations would vary by state rules. At the local level, law enforcement agencies would include municipal police departments, county sheriffs' departments, and constables.

Essay on Law Enforcement and Security In the United Assignment

The most significant difference between law enforcement and private security is that law enforcement works to protect the public interest. This means that law enforcement officers always play a dual role; while responsible for apprehending people who are in the progress of committing crimes, who have committed crimes in the past, or who commit a threat to public safety, they also have a responsibility to protect those people. Law enforcement officers also have a duty to balance interests when considering what actions to take; if an action would increase public danger, even if lawful, then law enforcement has a responsibility to ensure that public safety is protected.

Private Sector

Private sector security enforcement includes any person working security for a private employer, instead of in the public sector. Private sector security has a tremendous range. It can include people who perform security duties in addition to their other job duties and have no specific experience or training in security up to people who are trained security professionals working specifically to protect the interests of an employer. Unlike public sector law enforcement personnel, a private sector employee's first obligation is to his or her employer, as long as the employer does not ask the employee to violate any laws. This means that private sector security officers have no obligation to report criminal violations to any law enforcement agencies as long as their employers do not want the crimes reported. In fact, they may actually have an obligation not to report crimes if their employers have instructed them not to do so. There are a number of reasons that a private sector employer may not want a crime reported, but primarily because when a crime is reported confidence in a business may be reduced. Therefore, the conflict between private employer interests and public interest can be critical when looking at the obligations and duties of those working in criminal justice.

Working Together

While public and private sector criminal justice specialists may have occasional conflicts, the vast majority of the time they are working to reach the same goals. They cannot do this unless they are in communication and working with one another to reach those goals. However, territorial conflicts may prevent this type of communication. Veney identified four things that public law enforcement and private security could do to strengthen their relationship (2004). The first thing they can do is coordinate on special projects, to ensure that special events not only run smoothly for the private sector but also do not interfere too significantly with the public (Veney, 2004). Examples of this would be coordinating traffic after large events, working on crowd control during events that are expected to become raucous or potentially violent, and managing areas experiencing an increase in crime (Veney, 2004). The second thing that they can do is for law enforcement to share local criminal statistical data with private security and for private security, in turn, to ensure reporting of all crimes to local police officers (Veney, 2004). While these two things may seem to be givens, the reality is that both private and public officers may keep information to themselves, rather than share the information. The third thing that they can do is coordinate on major investigations, which means not only contacting the police when a crime has occurred, but also fully cooperating with any criminal investigation (Veney, 2004). Finally, it is important for private firms to share information with police when they foresee a potential increase in criminal activity. "When devastating incidents can be avoided, both police and private security personnel look like heroes" (Veney, 2004).

Hybrid Organizations

Of course, there are some organizations that resist classification as purely private or purely public organizations. For example, security in public schools is often handled by private organizations, but is still done for a public employer and for the public interest. Moreover, school security may not even be handled by security professionals, but by teachers, aides, or other school personnel. However, as violence in schools has increased, so has the need for on-campus security, so that the vast majority of schools, at least in large school districts, use professional dedicated security personnel to provide security services in schools. The various forms of security staffing being used at schools include: school security departments comprised of in-house personnel; school resource officers who are officers employed by local police departments and assigned to the schools; school police departments which are regular police departments run by school districts; and hall monitors who are basically school personnel that perform security functions (National Education Agency, 2002-2015).


The history of police predates the history of the United States, as almost all formal governments have had some people designated to enforce their laws. However, in the United States, the history of policing can be traced directly back to policing in Great Britain, where there were actually multiple forms of law enforcement to help enforce the laws. Initially, law enforcement in the colonies was handled by the colonists, themselves, with a justice of the peace in charge of sentencing people. Punishment was swift and public, with people punished in stocks, but it was also relatively non-isolating; people were punished and then returned to the community. As the colonies grew, the justice of the peace system was no longer capable of handling crime and criminals. "In 1636 the city of Boston established Night Watch, which idea worked reasonably well as long as the area remained a rural and agrarian one. New York City established the Shout and Rattle Watch in 1651, but, by 1705 Philadelphia found it necessary to divide the city into ten patrol areas" (Sabath, 2015). In fact, in 1833, Philadelphia was the first city to establish a modern day police department, which functioned 24 hours a day and operated independently. In 1844, New York followed suit, but actually established two different police departments; a daytime duty and a night watch (Sabath, 2015). The departments were not distinct from the political system and were quickly known for their political corruption.

Municipal police departments were not the only vestige of British criminal justice to come to the American criminal justice system. The United States also adopted the British sheriff system. "As American moved toward the west, in most frontier towns the Sheriff was the chief law enforcement official. He could be recruited from the local community, or more often a Sheriff was selected by his reputation, and not always a savory one" (Sabath, 2015). Many locations continue to have Sheriffs, and, where they continue, they are still selected by the public, though the selection process is generally through elections and would probably disqualify some of the more famous sheriffs from the past.

The history of private security is even longer than the history of governmental police. In fact, private security forces almost certainly predate written history and written laws. "One of the earliest recorded examples of private security forces being utilized dates back to the thirteenth century B.C.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Law Enforcement and Security" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Law Enforcement and Security.  (2015, February 16).  Retrieved November 30, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Law Enforcement and Security."  16 February 2015.  Web.  30 November 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Law Enforcement and Security."  February 16, 2015.  Accessed November 30, 2020.