County police

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County police are police forces existing primarily in the United States that possess primary jurisdiction over an entire county. England and Wales, two constituent countries of the United Kingdom (UK), are policed by territorial police forces which are largely formed on a county basis. Historically, Sweden and Scotland, another constituent country of the UK, have had county police, although both countries now have unified national police services.


Until the end of 2014, all of the 21 counties of Sweden had its own County Police Department. In 2015, Sweden merged all local police departments into a single police agency, dividing the country into seven police regions instead.[1]

United Kingdom[edit]

In England, the police are divided into regional forces based on counties (sometimes amalgamations of two or three counties), which all provide full services throughout their districts.

Police forces in Scotland and Wales also used to be organised on a county basis, but then were amalgamated into a number of larger regional forces: eight in Scotland and four in Wales. In 2013, Scotland ditched its eight regional forces and created one national police force known as Police Scotland.

Northern Ireland is historically policed on a national basis, first by the Royal Irish Constabulary, then the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which was reformed in 2001 as the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has never been policed on a county basis.

Other Special Police Services that have a presence at a country level are in operation throughout the UK, such as the British Transport Police who mainly police the transport services such as public trains, train stations, buses, bus stations & trams in the UK. The Nuclear Constabulary which is responsible for providing law enforcement and security at or within 5 km of any relevant nuclear site and for nuclear materials in transit within the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Defence Police of which their primary responsibilities are to provide armed security and to counter terrorism, as well as uniformed policing and investigative services to Ministry of Defence property, personnel, and installations throughout the United Kingdom. Others also include the Royal Military Police, Royal Navy Police, Royal Air Force Police and more.

United States[edit]

In the United States, the powers, duties, and even existence of county police forces vary widely depending on the state, and even on the particular county within a state. County police forces as autonomous entities are relatively rare and tend to exist only in metropolitan counties. Many states also have a sheriff's office which are always formed on a county basis and traditionally carry out duties related to the functioning of the courts and legal system, such as service of process, executing legal writs, and protection for the local courthouse and its judges. Many state constitutions mandate that the position of sheriff be created, which leads many states to also give sheriffs the duties of a county police to avoid having overlapping departments with similar duties, leaving the sheriff as the exclusive law enforcement agency for a county. Some counties that previously had both a county police force and a sheriff's office have merged the two, leaving the sheriff in command of the unified force, as the sheriff derives his power directly from the constitution; the most prominent example of such a merger is the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department which is actually led by the county sheriff despite its name.

County police tend to fall into three broad categories:

  • Full-service police departments, which provide the full spectrum of police services to the entire county, irrespective of local communities, and may provide contractual security police services to special districts within the county.[2][3][4]
    • Hawaii has only county police; there are no local police.
  • Limited service police departments, which provide services to unincorporated areas of the county (and may provide services to some incorporated areas by contract), and usually provide contractual security police services to special districts within the county.
  • Restricted service police departments, which provide security police duties to county owned and operated facilities and parks. Some may also perform some road patrol duties on county built and maintained roads, and provide support to municipal police departments in the county.

Note: County detectives, who are maintained in the northeastern states by county attorneys' offices, fall within this category. In the state of Louisiana, a county is known as a parish. In the state of Alaska, a county is known as a borough. The only of which to have their own police department is North Slope Borough.

U.S. departments[edit]

There are 3,141 counties in the United States and some county police departments are:

A to M[edit]

N to Z[edit]


  1. ^ "The Swedish judicial system" (PDF). Ministry of Justice. June 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Virginia County vs. Town vs. City". Virginia Places.Org. Retrieved October 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ "County Police Departments". Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Auxiliary Police and Part Time Law Enforcement Officer Training Standards" (PDF). Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. DCJS VA. Retrieved October 29, 2016. 
  5. ^ Howard County, Maryland Sheriff's Office
  6. ^ Howard County Sheriff's Office Patrol Operations