Industry Research – Law Enforcement – A Look at the Structure of a State Police Agency


A Look at the Structure of a State Police Agency  |

By Mike Francomb  |  senior vice president of marketing at RecruitMilitary and a former captain in the United States Army  |

Published in the November/December 2010 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

To help acquaint veteran job seekers with job opportunities in law enforcement, I will describe the organizational structure of a fictional state police agency. I have based this description on the structure of several actual agencies.

In “our state,” the police agency is called the State Police, and it is a part of the Department of Public Safety. In other states, an agency called the State Patrol, State Highway Patrol, or State Troopers has all or most of the components mentioned in this article.

Ranks. Almost all of the ranks of our State Police are the same as military ranks. An individual joins the patrol as a recruit. He or she then attends the State Police Training Academy for 16 weeks, becoming a trooper upon graduation. From the rank of trooper, the upward sequence is sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel.

Leadership. The head of our State Police is the superintendent, who has the rank of colonel. Reporting directly to the superintendent are three assistant superintendents with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Those individuals lead the Investigative Division, the Field Operations Division, and the Administrative Services Division.

In the Investigative Division are two commands, each consisting of several branches. The command leaders are majors, and each branch is led by a captain or a lieutenant. One command includes the    following branches: Alcohol/Tobacco Enforcement, Narcotics Enforcement, Firearms Enforcement, Gaming Enforcement, Auto Theft, Bomb Squad, and Missing Persons.

The other command includes: Crime Lab, Technical Accident Investigation, Criminal Behavior Analysis, Intelligence and Criminal Identification, Sex Offenders Registry, and Internet Crimes.

In the Field Operations Division are two commands, District Post Operations and Special Enforcement Operations, each led by a major.

District Post Operations personnel enforce the law on our state and interstate highways. There are 12 districts in our state, and the posts are the district headquarters. A captain leads each post. Serving under the captain are two lieutenants. One of them is in charge of the personnel who patrol the highways—three shifts of troopers, each led by a sergeant. The other lieutenant’s responsibilities include Safety Education, Driver Training, and Vehicle Operator Licensing.

Special Enforcement Operations, all led by captains, include the Commercial Vehicle Branch, which operates the state’s weigh stations for commercial carriers and inspects commercial vehicles of all types; the Air Wing; Executive Protection, that is, protection of the governor and other state officials; Facilities Security, protection of key state buildings and other major state facilities, especially in the state capital; Criminal Interdiction; and the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.

In the Administrative Services Division are: Professional Standards/Internal Affairs, led by a major; the Training Academy, also under the command of a major; and the following, which are led by captains: Communications, Financial/Accounting, Human Resources, Information Technology, Purchasing, and Supplies.

Thank you for serving in the armed forces of the United States!

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers