The State Police: Organization and Function

W. Carsten Andresen, Rutgers University

Since their very beginnings, the state police have faced an identity crisis. Indeed, though the police have claimed a variety of organizational missions over the years, at present there is little agreement about what troopers do. In particular, the critical patrol tasks that troopers perform on the job remains a mystery. Exacerbating matters, the state police have eluded the attention of social scientists. Indeed, no systematic empirical studies focus on the state police. Current municipal police literature and initial observation indicate that there are major differences between municipal and state police departments. In addition to these differences, state policing varies by state. To understand the state police in relation to other policing forms, it is important to compare them to (1) municipal departments and (2) other state police departments. To broaden the police research literature and aid in professional innovation, this work focuses on the state police as a specific policing form. First the state police organization is examined, with attention to its bureaucratic features and paramilitary structure. Moving outside the police organization, this paper also focuses on how traffic demand, the rural landscape, and history affect trooper work and the state police identity.

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Updated 05/20/2006