Nearly every aspect of your life involves policies, regulations, and laws that help to promote public safety. Think about it. The exterior of your house meets certain codes, or rules, so that it won’t catch on fire easily. Every time you drive a car, you follow a number of rules so that you won’t cause or get in an accident. Even your dog has to obey regulations, like leash laws.
By far, the greatest number of people in public safety—or emergency and protective services—are working at the local level. Almost every com munity has its own police department. In the smallest communities, a police department may have as few as one or two employees. In larger cities, the members of a police department may be divided into many divisions, each with its own area of the city to patrol. A police force may have specialized divisions, such as a narcotics squad to combat illegal drugs; a vice squad to fight rape, prostitution, and related crimes; a SWAT team that can be called upon in emergency situations; a hostage rescue team; and a bomb squad. Most police departments employ a military-style ranking system. Patrol officers may become detectives. Police officers may rise through the ranks to become sergeants, lieutenants, or even the chief of police for a community. Many other people provide support for a police department, from traffic clerks and police clerks to forensic experts and polygraph examiners.
Other important areas of local law enforcement are probation and parole services. Probation officers are generally attached to the court system, while parole officers work with the correctional system. Both work in cooperation with the police department.
Sheriff departments generally operate at the county level, and provide additional law enforcement efforts among the many communities in a single county Almost every state operates its own state police department. They are often called highway patrols because one of their major responsibilities is to ensure the safety of the highways linking communities.
The U.S. Marshals Service, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, is concerned with crimes that cross state lines. Interstate crimes, as they are called, may involve the transport of stolen vehicles and goods from one state to another. U.S. marshals are responsible for tracking down wanted criminals and transporting prisoners. They also operate the Federal Witness Security Program and provide security for federal courts and judges.
Enforcement of federal laws is largely the responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI oversees nearly 300 separate violations, including such federal crimes as kidnapping. A principal duty of the FBI is to investigate people and groups that might pose a threat to the internal security of the country. The Central Intelligence Agency is primarily concerned with matters of International security, monitoring world events as they relate to the safety and Interests of the United States.
There are many other agencies operating at the federal level, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Secret Service, the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. Each agency oversees a particular jurisdiction, or responsibility, of the law. However, every agency provides support and cooperation to the others and often works with state and local law enforcement agencies when investigating crimes and apprehending criminals.
The incarceration and rehabilitation of suspected and convicted criminals also occurs at each of the local, state, and federal levels. Communities usually operate jails, which provide temporary housing for people awaiting trial or for convicted criminals awaiting sentencing to permanent prisons. The prison system operates minimum, medium, and maximum security prisons, depending on the nature of the criminal and the crime. Special prisons house mentally ill prisoners or juvenile offenders. People convicted of federal crimes are generally sent to prisons operated by the federal government.
Security agencies and detective agencies work to ensure the public safety as well. Many provide such services as bodyguards, security systems, armed security guards, and private investigation services in order to prevent crimes against people and property. Many private companies also work with in the correctional system, operating prisons or providing corrections officers or other services. Some private companies also provide police services for universities, airports, communities, and large government facilities and installations.
Careers in emergency and protective services are among the fastest growing in the United States today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Increases in crime rates, and especially increases in public anxiety over crime, have led to demands for heightened law enforcement efforts, tougher sentencing laws, and dramatic increases in the security services industry. Since 1990, several incidents have raised concern over domestic security, particularly the threat of terrorist attacks. The bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 and the bombing at the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 have caused an increase in domestic intelligence and investigative operations. The “war on drugs” begun during the 1980s created a need for larger numbers of law enforcement officials trained and dedicated to reducing levels of drug trafficking. In the mid 1990s, President Clinton passed new tough-on-crime legislation that increased the numbers of police officers employed at the local, state, and federal levels.
The corrections industry has recorded an increase of nearly 80 percent in the number of prisoners in the last decade. The war on drugs has had an especially great impact on the numbers of people being sent to prison. Public outrage at the early release of many violent criminals has led to demands br legislation ensuring these criminals serve the full length of their sentences. More prisons are being built to accommodate them, and more corrections officers are being hired to guard them. At the same time, the overcrowding of many correctional facilities has stimulated pressure for more liberal probation and parole efforts, requiring greater numbers of parole and probation officers.
Immigration and customs officials have seen huge increases in the numbers of people and goods, especially drugs, entering the country illegally Illegal immigration has become an area of national concern as more and more people have entered the country without the required visas and work permits. Crackdowns on illegal immigration have led to increased numbers of border patrol officers and immigration officials to patrol not only the country’s borders, but to seek out illegal immigrants in communities across the United States. Employment of border patrol officers, immigration officials, and customs officials remains largely unaffected by changes in the economy.
Intelligence activities remain an important element of government, despite the ending of the Cold War. The breakup of the Soviet Union has created new political situations and instabilities that must be continually monitored and analyzed for their effect on the interests and security of the United States. Terrorist attacks of U.S. targets overseas continue, and a primary function of the country’s intelligence agencies is to identify, intercept, and pursue terrorists who seek to harm the country, its citizens, and its allies.
Private security activities have been stepped up, especially as many U.S. companies have begun to compete in a global economy. An especially fast- growing area of corporate security is in computer technology, as computers and computer transmissions of information have become more common place across a variety of industries.
Each article in this guide discusses a particular public safety occupation in detail. The information comes from carefully and thoroughly conducted research, drawing heavily on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and State employment statistics. These databases hare heavily mined – i.e., filtered and number-crunched. The History section describes the history of the particular job as it relates to the overall development of its industry or field. The Job describes the primary and secondary duties of the job. Requirements discusses high school and postsecondary education and training requirements, any certification or licensing necessary, and any other personal requirements for success in the job. Exploring offers suggestions on how to gain some experience in or knowledge of the particular job before making a firm educational and financial commitment. The focus is on what can be done while still in high school (or in the early years of college) to gain a better under standing of the job. The Employers section gives an overview of typical places of employment for the job. Starting Out discusses the best ways to land that first job, be it through the college placement office, newspaper ads, or personal contact. The Advancement section describes what kind of career path to expect from the job and how to get there, Earnings lists salary ranges and describes the typical fringe benefits. The Work Environment section describes the typical surroundings and conditions of employment—whether indoors or outdoors, noisy or quiet, social or independent, and soon. Also discussed are t hours worked, any seasonal fluctuations, and the stresses and strains of the job. The Outlook section summarizes the job in terms of the general economy and industry projections. For the most part, Outlook information is obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is supplemented by information taken from professional associations. Job growth terms follow those used in the Occupational Outlook Handbook: Growth described as “much faster than the average” means an increase of 36 percent or more. Growth described as “faster than the average” means an increase of 21 to 35 percent. Growth described as “about as fast as the average” means an increase of 10 to 20 percent. Growth described as “little change or more slowly than the average” means an increase of 0 to 9 percent. “Decline” means a decrease of 1 percent or more.
Each article ends with For More Information, which lists organizations that can provide career information on training, education, internships, scholarships, and job placement.