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Primary state police agencies represent a relatively small slice of U.S. policing. Whereas local law enforcement agencies (municipal and county police departments and sheriff’s offices) employ 72% of the sworn police personnel in the country, and the federal government employs 14%, primary state police agencies employ only 7% (special-purpose jurisdictions like colleges, parks, and transportation systems account for the remaining 7%). In part because they comprise a fairly small share of the overall policing industry, state police are often overlooked in police research and the policing literature.

Primary state law enforcement agencies generally fit into one of two categories: state police or highway patrol. Highway patrol agencies typically focus their efforts primarily on traffic enforcement and traffic safety, whereas state police usually have broader jurisdiction and ...

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