Police Departments

Find police departments, precincts, and stations. Police departments provide information on public safety, police reports, dispatch, impounds, and policing.

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About Police Departments

What is a Police Department?

A Police Department is a law enforcement agency that has been granted specific police powers. The primary functions of a Police Department are deterring crime, stopping crimes in progress, investigating crimes, and serving as first responders for emergencies and situations that threaten public safety.

Police Departments at the state, county, and local levels, and Police that serve special purpose districts, derive their authority from their respective states. Each of the states defines the powers granted to Police Departments, but they generally have the authority, under varying circumstances, to stop and search individuals, arrest and detain individuals, issue penalties and fines, and conduct investigations.

Police Departments are often configured into several interconnected divisions, including Patrol, Investigations, and Traffic Control. The Patrol Division typically provides for a baseline Police presence throughout the jurisdiction in Police vehicles, on foot, and on bicycles, in order to prevent crime as well as to provide rapid responses to calls for service. Patrol Officers are expected to respond to virtually any emergency situation and to work closely with other public safety agencies including Fire Departments and Emergency Medical units. Investigations divisions are responsible for investigating and solving crimes and gathering sufficient evidence to allow crimes to be prosecuted. Traffic Control divisions enforce traffic safety laws.

Police Departments often create specialized units organized around particular crimes or public safety issues, including domestic violence, gang activity, or narcotics trafficking. Many Police Departments also establish ties throughout the community with businesses, schools, neighborhood organizations, and religious institutions. Police Departments may offer youth programming or sponsor events to strengthen these relationships. Some Police Departments are responsible for their own dispatch activity, while others rely on 911 public safety answering points for dispatch services.

Police Departments at the federal level are generally associated with specific federal agencies. These Police Departments derive their authority from federal law and have more narrowly defined missions than state, county, or local Police Departments. Police Departments at federal agencies are essentially tasked with protecting the people, facilities, and assets of their agency.