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:
“We have passed the time of ... the laisser-faire [sic] school which believes that the government ought to do nothing but run a police force.”
—William Howard Taft (18571930)
“Despite your best efforts, you could not invent a better police force for literature than criticism and the authors own conscience.”
—Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (18601904)
“Anarchism is a game at which the police can beat you.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)