Definition of police noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//pəˈliːs//
; NAmE NAmE//pəˈliːs//
The police
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 (also the police) [plural] an official organization whose job is to make people obey the law and to prevent and solve crime; the people who work for this organization A man was arrested by the police and held for questioning. Get out of the house or I'll call the police. Police suspect a local gang. a police car Hundreds of police in riot gear struggled to control the violence. see also kitchen police, secret police Wordfinderabide by something, court, crime, justice, law, legal, police, prosecute, punish, trial Wordfinderarrest, charge, cordon, detain, detective, interrogate, plain clothes, police, raid, undercover Culturelaw enforcementBritain has regional police forces, which are responsible for maintaining law and order in their own area. London has two police forces, the Metropolitan Police, often referred to as the Met, which covers Greater London and has its headquarters at New Scotland Yard, and the smaller City of London Police.Each regional police force is led by a Chief Constable. In England and Wales since 2012 there have been directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners who direct the work of the Chief Constable and his or her force. Police officers wear dark blue uniforms, and constables sometimes wear tall hard helmets (= protective hats). The British police force is relatively small, with one police officer to every 400 people. Some members of the public are trained as special constables and are available to help the police in an emergency.Each police force has a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of detectives. CID officers are chosen from the uniformed police. They do not wear uniforms and have the title Detective before their rank, e.g. Detective Inspector Jones. Individual police forces have other special units for areas such as traffic, child protection, etc. and there are also national police organizations such as Special Branch, which works to prevent terrorism. In 2004 the government announced the creation of a new national organization, the Serious Organised Crime Agency to replace the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service.Attitudes towards the police have changed in Britain over the years. The traditional image of the friendly bobby on the beat, a policeman going round his local area on foot or on a bicycle armed only with a whistle and a truncheon (= long club), is now out of date. The modern police officer, man or woman, is more likely to be patrolling in a police car and to have less contact with the public. Police officers generally still carry only truncheons as weapons, and though some are trained to use a gun they only carry one in special circumstances. Dishonesty, racial prejudice and excessive use of force by some officers have damaged the public image of the police and in response the police have tried to get rid of dishonest officers and build better relationships with local communities, a practice called community policing. More police do now patrol on foot again, instead of in cars.In the US, law enforcement is carried out by different organizations at the various levels of government. In all, there are about 17 000 law enforcement agencies and they employ more than 800 000 full-time officers. At national level, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has about 11 000 special agents who investigate crimes across the US. At state level, state police departments are responsible for highway patrols and their officers are called state troopers. Each county within a state has an elected sheriff and the people who work in the sheriff's office, deputies, are responsible for investigating crimes. Cities have their own police departments. They may be very large in cities like New York, but those in small towns have only a few officers. Most colleges and universities have their own small police forces.The members of the US police force who have most contact with the public are uniformed officers, who patrol in cars and are the first to arrive when a crime is reported. More serious crimes are investigated by detectives, who usually wear plain clothes (= normal clothes) instead of a uniform. In spite of the fact that police officers in the US wear guns, they are seen by many Americans as being honest, helpful people who work hard at a dangerous job. This is the image that has been shown in popular television programmes such as Columbo and Hill Street Blues. But in recent years it has become clear that many police officers are prejudiced against African Americans and Hispanics and that in some police forces, such as that in Los Angeles, prejudice and even violence on the part of the police have been common. See related entries: The police Word Originlate 15th cent. (in the sense ‘public order’): from French, from medieval Latin politia ‘citizenship, government’, from Greek politeia ‘citizenship’, from politēs ‘citizen’, from polis ‘city’. Current senses date from the early 19th cent.Extra examples All prosecution witnesses were given police protection. Contact your local police department to file a police report. Following this rule will keep the fashion police off your tail. He spent the night in a police cell after his arrest. He was held in police custody for a month His name has never shown up on the police blotter. I had a police record. I’d really rather not involve the police. Nine arrests were made in a series of police raids across the city. No arrest has been made, but a man is helping the police with their enquiries. Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward. Police reports state that at around 6.30 p.m. Poole and a relative had an argument in his backyard. Some protesters managed to break through the police cordon. The country looks more and more like a police state. The police arrived to break up the battle. The police charged him with impaired driving. The police raided his shop. The visiting fans returned to the railway station under police escort. There was a huge police presence at the demonstration. an unmarked police car
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: police