Law enforcement describes the agencies and employees responsible for enforcing laws, maintaining public order, and managing public safety. The primary duties of law enforcement include the investigation, apprehension, and detention of individuals suspected of criminal offenses. Some law enforcement agencies, particularly sheriff’s offices, also have a significant role in the detention of individuals convicted of criminal offenses.
BJS maintains several national data collections, covering federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and special topics in law enforcement. Data are typically collected directly from law enforcement and related agencies, including crime laboratories, police departments, sheriff’s offices, and training academies.
Most data collections are conducted every 2 to 4 years and report aggregate findings. From these collections, BJS publishes national estimates for personnel, equipment, operations, policies, budgets, and job functions across agencies.
About three-quarters (75%) of training academies had a minimum law enforcement experience requirement for full-time instructors. Among academies with a minimum experience requirement, the average was about 4 years. Overall, 34% of the academies required their full-time instructors to have an academic degree. Nearly all (98%) academies required their full-time instructors to be certified. Eighty percent of academies required full-time trainers to have a state-level certification, and 59% required certification as a subject-matter expert. A less common requirement was certification by the academy (32%).
About 6 in 7 recruits completed their basic training program and graduated from the academy.
The 2006 BJS Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies found that training programs for basic recruits lasted an average of 19 weeks, excluding field training. Topics with the most instruction time included firearms (a median of 60 hours), self-defense (51 hours), health and fitness (46 hours), patrol procedures (40 hours), investigations (40 hours), emergency vehicle operations (40 hours), criminal law (36 hours), and basic first aid (24 hours).