Law enforcement on the local level is divided into two different agencies, and each has different responsibilities.
The agency that nominally works for the county commissioners, and which has primary responsibility for law enforcement within the county, is the sheriff's office. The agency that works nominally for the mayor, and which has primary responsibility for law enforcement within city limits, is the police department. In cases when jurisdiction is unclear or in dispute, the state law enforcement agency, which is the OSBI in Oklahoma, steps in and takes over the case.
Theoretically, a sheriff's department, local police departments and the state law enforcement agency work together seamlessly, but in reality, that is often not the case. In far too many cases, the various agencies are in dispute as to who controls each case in which they become involved, which seriously interferes with solving that case.
In terms of structure, police departments and sheriff's departments are much the same, with a sheriff or police chief, who has overall responsibility and control over their agencies. There are lieutenants to run different areas within the agencies, and sergeants, who are in control of the day-to-day duties, activities and responsibilities of sheriff's deputies and police officers. There is also a detective division, with officers who are in charge on the ground of crime cases and who investigate crimes.
The other thing all of these agencies have in common is that they are supported by taxes and are under no specific obligation to do or produce anything for their wages and funds. They can spend years on a case and make no headway, but collect their checks, anyway. In addition, these are the law enforcement agencies civilians have the most contact with, and therein lies the problem.
A majority of law enforcement personnel with which I have had the pleasure to have contact are the very people I would not trust with a gun, given the choice. Just as it takes a big ego to be a politician, many law enforcement personnel became officers because they can carry a gun and order people around, and not because they care about the law or those they are hired to serve. And, as you might expect, many of them are bullies and cowards, and being an officer allows them to hide behind their badges while being asses.
I actually had an officer threaten to arrest me on my own land when I demanded that he remove people who were there without my permission, and whom I had ordered to leave. I was also severely harassed by a sheriff's department in another state simply because they didn't like me and my family. Can you guess that may have soured me on such people?
Dr. Jonathan C. Jobe, of Crescent Valley, is a retired educator and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.