In many countries, particularly those with a federal system of government, there may be several police or policelike organizations, each serving different levels of government and enforcing different subsets of the applicable law. The United States has a highly decentralized and fragmented system of law enforcement, with over 17,000 state and local law enforcement agencies.
Some countries, such as Chile, Israel, the Philippines, France, Austria, New Zealand and South Africa, use a centralized system of policing. Other countries have multiple police forces, but for the most part their jurisdictions do not overlap. In the United States however, several different law enforcement agencies may have authority in a particular jurisdiction at the same time, each with their own command.
Other countries where jurisdiction of multiple police agencies overlap, include Guardia Civil and the Policía Nacional in Spain, the Polizia di Stato and Carabinieri in Italy and the Police Nationale and National Gendarmerie in France.
Most countries are members of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), established to detect and fight transnational crime and provide for international co-operation and co-ordination of other police activities, such as notifying relatives of the death of foreign nationals. Interpol does not conduct investigations or arrests by itself, but only serves as a central point for information on crime, suspects and criminals. Political crimes are excluded from its competencies.
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