The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder. Their powers include the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with police services of a state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from military or other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie and military police are military units charged with civil policing.
Law enforcement, however, constitutes only part of policing activity. Policing has included an array of activities in different situations, but the predominant ones are concerned with the preservation of order. In some societies, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, these developed within the context of maintaining the class system and the protection of private property. Some parts of the world may suffer from police corruption.
Alternative names for police force include constabulary, gendarmerie, police department, police service, crime prevention, protective services, law enforcement agency, civil guard or civic guard. Members may be referred to as police officers, troopers, sheriffs, constables, rangers, peace officers or civic/civil guards. Police of the Soviet-era Eastern Europe were (or are, in some cases, as in Belarus) called the militsiya. The Irish police are called the Garda Síochána ("guardians of the peace"); a police officer is called a garda. As police are often in conflict with individuals, slang terms are numerous. Many slang terms for police officers are decades or centuries old with lost etymology.
Famous quotes containing the word police:
“Oh, yes, everythings fine. I always stop by the police station in the middle of the night to pick up my daughter.”
—Theodore Simonson. Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.. Mr. Martin, The Blob, when he comes to pick up Jane (1958)
“The State has but one face for me: that of the police. To my eyes, all of the States ministries have this single face, and I cannot imagine the ministry of culture other than as the police of culture, with its prefect and commissioners.”
—Jean Dubuffet (19011985)
“I guess a career in the police didnt really prepare you for this, did it?”
—Bob Hunt (b. 1951)