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Police are a group of people whose job it is to enforce laws, help with emergencies, solve crimes and protect the public. People who work for the police are called police officers. They work out of a police station. Police are trained in first aid and rescue, because police officers are often one of the first people to get to a place where people are sick or injured, such as a car accident, or a fire.
The police have different powers to help them do their job. These powers are different in different countries. Most police officers have the power to arrest people, search people, and search houses/properties. They sometimes carry equipment such as guns, batons and pepper spray. The area where a police officer can use these powers is called their jurisdiction. If the officer goes outside of his jurisdiction, they are no longer allowed to use his powers. Another police force has to then take over.
The police deal with;
- stopping crime and protecting the public. They do this by patrolling on foot in uniform and in police cars. It is often agreed that seeing police officers makes people feel safer and that it stops some some forms of criminal behavior.
- investigating crime. This means that they find out who did the crime. Some crimes, such as robbery or murder are investigated by detectives.
- To help in emergencies or problems the that are not crimes. They could go to car accidents, fires, or people who are sick or hurt. The police work with firefighters, ambulances, and rescuers. They could direct traffic, help lost children, give traffic tickets, and many other things.
Parts of police departments
Most police departments have most of their officers in two main groups: a "patrol" group that has officers who wear uniforms, and a "detective" group that has officers who wear normal clothing.
- Patrol officers travel through their area to see what is happening. They drive marked cars with warning lights and sirens (makes sound to warn people). Patrol officers also enforce traffic regulations and run the local jail.
- Detectives work on investigations that are more complex. In the United Kingdom, for example, patrol officers form the "uniform branch", while detectives work within the CID ("Criminal Investigation Department"). Police uniforms, equipment and methods can change a lot depending on the country. In some areas, groups of police are train for special jobs such as dealing with riots or when a situation is very bad.
Police in different countries
Different countries have different names for their police. In Ireland, they are called the Garda. In Russia, they were called the Militsiyer until 2012; now, they are called the Politsiyer, closer to the English "police". Other names for police services are sheriff's office, marshal's office or department of public safety. In the same country there can be different types of police officer who have powers in different areas and situations, such as state police, military police and local police.
In most countries, police officers have been trained to carry guns. Even in countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland where most police officers do not carry guns, more are being trained to do so because gun crime is getting worse. Firearms training teaches that the use of a firearm is only when lives are at risk.