What Is Police Jurisdiction?

According to Lawyers.com, police jurisdiction refers to the legal authority for police to enforce laws and the specific geographical area in which this authority exists. Police officers generally have jurisdiction to enforce the laws of a local geographic area or the entire state in which they serve. By contrast, federal officers, such as FBI agents, carry out the enforcement of federal laws throughout the entire country.

DiscoverPolicing.org explains that in addition to local, state and federal law enforcement professionals, some areas also employ special jurisdiction officers. These officers usually have jurisdiction over a defined area within a larger jurisdiction. For example, colleges, universities, public transit systems, hospitals and housing areas often have a dedicated law enforcement agency that is responsible for enforcing the law in these small jurisdictions. Usually, these agencies offer the full complement of services that most other law enforcement agencies provide.

Local police typically have jurisdiction to enforce all local laws, investigate local crimes and conduct regular patrols through the area that they serve. According to DiscoverPolicing.org, sheriff’s departments usually have the authority to enforce state laws at the local level. Additionally, local sheriff’s deputies often serve arrest warrants and court summons and also operate local jails.