In the law enforcement protocol, state troopers occupy a middle ground between the omnipresent local police and the high profile federal agents. Whenever the word state trooper is mentioned, many people immediately associate it with highway patrol. While this is true, the duties of state troopers go beyond the asphalt. Their roles create an important bridge between what the police do in your neighborhood and the nationwide law enforcement strategies.
A Brief Overview of State Troopers History
At the turn of the 20th century, state police departments were formed and this exercise lasted for about 50 years. The population growth and booming industries during the time brought issues that required statewide and coordinated law enforcement efforts.
In 1905, the Pennsylvania State Police Force was established thanks to the Great Anthracite Strike of 1902 that was characterized by the instability in the coal and steel industries. The rise of automobile also created a new crop of criminals who could easily escape the police dragnet and cross county and state lines without the local police noticing. As a result of this, every state in the United States apart from Hawaii has its own state police department legally enacted through their respective legislative bodies.
The Responsibilities of State Troopers
Just as their name suggests, state troopers are organized at the state level and amongst their chief responsibilities is to protect high ranking officials, maintain order in rural areas where there are no local police departments, as well as protecting state property.
They also act as the binding force that holds together networks of local departments spread all over the state by assisting whenever necessary in situations like disaster relief, criminal investigations and search and rescue missions. Their primary assignment on state highways and roads is critical in apprehending crooks on the run.
In addition to the above responsibilities, state troopers conduct their own independent investigations in a bid to tackle important criminal issues. Among the cases they handle include organized crimes, gun trafficking and illegal drugs rings.
So as to prepare state troopers for these enormous tasks and making them resourceful for local departments, they are equipped with technically advanced machineries and receive special training.
The Difference between Troopers and Police
In the eyes of many people, local police officers and state troopers seem to be birds of the same feather. Both of them protect citizens with the same procedures and equipment and enforce the law. Even when it comes to hiring and training, the procedures they follow are essentially the same which culminate in them attending police academies before being deployed.
While the roles may look similar, state troopers tend to have more horsepower compared to the average police.
In terms of jurisdiction, the local police are confined to the cities they operate in while state troopers have authority that spreads across the entire state. However, depending on where they are located, state law enforcement officers can be referred to as the state police, highway patrol or state patrol. While highway patrol agencies have specific authority confined to certain areas of the state, state patrol and state police are given general authority all over the state.