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:
“There was never a man born so wise or good, but one or more companions came into the world with him, who delight in his faculty, and report it. I cannot see without awe, that no man thinks alone and no man acts alone, but the divine assessors who came up with him into life,now under one disguise, now under another,like a police in citizens clothes, walk with him, step for step, through all kingdoms of time.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“Now, honestly: if a large group of ... demonstrators blocked the entrances to St. Patricks Cathedral every Sunday for years, making it impossible for worshipers to get inside the church without someone escorting them through screaming crowds, wouldnt some judge rule that those protesters could keep protesting, but behind police lines and out of the doorways?”
—Anna Quindlen (b. 1953)
“Anarchism is a game at which the police can beat you.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)