Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Law, Crime, Criminal Justice, Police, Enforcement, Law Enforcement, Social Issues, United States

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/09


Law enforcement in the United States is one of the three aspects of the justice department. It operates to investigate potential crimes, preventing criminal activity, apprehend criminals, maintain order, protect the innocent and uphold the law. The law enforcement fraternity is divided into three specific streams. They are federal, state and local law enforcement. The laws in the United States differ based on the state. However there are laws that govern national policy; these laws are known as federal laws.

Federal Law Enforcement

Federal law enforcement agencies operate to uphold the tenets of federal law. The crimes that federal agencies investigate are gun running, bank robbery, wire fraud, mail fraud, interstate crimes, white collar crimes, serial killings, hate crimes, environmental crimes, civil rights violations and any crime that threatens to undermine the commercial interests of the United States of America.
Federal law enforcement agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), United States Customs and Border Protection, Federal Air Marshall (FAMS), United States Marshalls Service, United States Secret Service, United States Coast Guard and Homeland Security investigations are some of the well known federal law enforcement agencies.
Federal law enforcement agencies are the top level of the law enforcement fraternity. They handle cases that are beyond state and even national boundaries. They are at times invited by state controlled law enforcement for their assistance.
(U.S. Department of Justice, 2015)

Local Law Enforcement

Local law enforcement agencies maintain regular law enforcement tasks and provide auxiliary support to State law enforcement divisions. Local law enforcement includes County Police and Sheriff Departments. Although many of these agencies have jurisdiction throughout the county or even the state, they seldom get involved in regular criminal investigations. They provide security services, maintaining county jails, transporting prisoners, issuing summons on behalf of courts, conducting foreclosure auctions, patrolling subway systems, airports and parks.
They form the auxiliary support that the State law enforcement requires in form of logistics, background verifications, law and order support for small towns that do not have a regular police department and courthouse duties.
(Langeluttig, 1927)

August Vollmer and other criminal investigation pioneers

August Vollmer was a legendary law enforcement personality who motorized the police force. He introduced the use of scientific techniques such as soil, blood and fibers. He also introduced the use of several innovative practices that formed the basis for the resources used by law enforcement agencies today (E. and Carte, 1975).
There are four key investigative techniques that this section that has given criminal investigators the edge. They are fingerprints, ballistics fingerprinting, blood spatter patterns and DNA analysis.


Dr. Henry P. DeForrest was the first to introduce fingerprint evidence in the United States in 1902. The first criminal case that was solved by using fingerprint analysis was the 1902 murder of a dentist in New York. The fingerprint was retrieved and analyzed by Alphonse Bertillon. He eventually formulated a way to lift prints off smooth surfaces.

Impact on police operations

Fingerprinting is not just used to identify criminals in a certain state nowadays; it is the main identifier in several cases and the national database provides law enforcement with vital breakthroughs. Nowadays, fingerprinting helps identified otherwise unidentifiable corpses. Forensic fingerprinting has been used to solve several criminal cases. Although today, that alone might not be enough.

Impact on society – In technique absence

The absence of fingerprinting would have allowed mob bosses and their hit men to freely kill and get away with crimes. Organized crimes was one of the most hit criminal enterprise by this investigative technique.

Ballistics fingerprinting

Ballistics fingerprinting was pioneered by Colonel Calvin Hooker Goddard and his partner Charles Waite. Every bullet leaves a unique pattern during its travel through the barrel on impact of the hammer. It was similar to fingerprinting with no possibility of duplicates.

Impact on police operations

Ballistic fingerprinting enables law enforcement to identify the murder weapon. This further strengthens the case against the perpetrator or exonerates the innocent.

Impact on society – In technique absence

Without ballistic fingerprinting, some high profile killers like the Son of Sam might not have been apprehended.
Blood Spatter Analysis
Blood spatter analysis determines how an act of violence evolved. It tells the story of what happened during the act of a violent crime. The blood drops on walls will tell investigators whether the witness’ at the crime scene are being truthful. For example, there might be a spray of blood near the bedpost wall (assuming the victim’s body is on the bed; placed in the center with a gun in the hand). If the witness at the crime scene says the victim committed suicide, investigators will know immediately that the witness is lying. A close rang shot that is usually the case in a suicide does not bring about such spraying. Eduard Piotrowski pioneered this form of forensic evidence.

Impact on police operations

Blood spatter analysis provides the story as it happened and rules out misleading routes in a criminal investigation.
Impact on society – In technique absence
The absence of this technique would have allowed wild goose chases instead of pursuing the actual criminals.
DNA Analysis
One in five convicts for sexual assault in the United States is innocent. The technology that enables them to exonerate themselves is DNA analysis. The product of DNA analysis is a unique pattern that allows investigators to identify the perpetrator conclusively. It was first used in a criminal trial by the UK.

Nowadays, DNA can be extracted and compared from plants, tooth pulp, hair and even transference cells.

Impact on police operations
DNA Analysis has enabled criminal investigators apprehend and incarcerate most of the serial killers post 2004. It has also been used to release several innocent civilians who were wrongfully convicted.

Impact on society – In technique absence

Prior to DNA analysis, blood type was the only criteria in a sexual assault case. If DNA analysis had not appeared on the scene, we would have incarcerated several innocent people and allowed the actual perpetrator loose in the society; free to kill again.
(Conklin et. al, 2002)


E., Gene and Carte, Elaine H. (1975). Police Reform in the United States: The Era of August Vollmer. University of California Press, 1975.
U.S. Department of Justice Staff (2015). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from: http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice-101/faq
Langeluttig, Albert (1927). The Department of Justice of the United States. Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 9–14.
Conklin, Barbara Gardner, Gardner , Robert and Shortelle, Dennis (2002). Encyclopedia of Forensic Science: a Compendium of Detective Fact and Fiction. Westport, Conn.: Oryx. Print.
Wambaugh, Joseph (1989). The Blooding. Perigord Press Book New York: New York, pp.369.

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Free Essay About Law Enforcement. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-essay-about-law-enforcement/. Published Dec 09, 2020. Accessed February 24, 2024.

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