10 Law Enforcement Terms Explained

General |November 23rd, 2018


CODIS is an acronym for Combined DNA Index System, which is a computer software program that operates local, State, and national databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence, and missing persons.

Community policing

A philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques between the police and the community. These policies proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of the offence. For more information about community policing, please visit the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) website.

Cross deputization agreements

Allow law enforcement personnel from state and tribal entities to cross jurisdictions in criminal cases. Cross deputization agreements have been used to enhance law enforcement capabilities in areas where state and tribal lands were contiguous and intermingled. Under some agreements, federal, state, county/local, and tribal law enforcement officers have the power to arrest Indian and non-Indian wrongdoers wherever the violation of law occurs.

Law enforcement

The generic name for the activities of the agencies responsible for maintaining public order and enforcing the law, particularly the activities of prevention, detection, and investigation of crime and the apprehension of criminals.

Local law enforcement officer

An employee of a local law enforcement agency who is an officer sworn to carry out law enforcement duties. Examples of this class are sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, chiefs of police, city police officers, and sworn personnel of law enforcement subunits of port and transit authorities. For national level comprehensive data, this class includes campus police officers employed by of local city and community college districts. Private campus police are excluded.

Manner of death

An explanation of how a person died, typically illustrated by a one-word description of the intentions and circumstances that led to the stated medical cause of mortality. Essentially, the manner of death is the way in which death was caused and is typically listed as natural, accident, homicide, suicide, or undetermined.


Of, relating to, or concerned with medicine and law; about legal aspects of the practice of medicine.

Public Law 83-280 (commonly referred to as Public Law 280 or P.L. 280)

Establishes criminal justice responsibilities among American Indian tribes with the tribal land, the states in which tribes are located, and the federal government. Public Law 280 is mandatory or optional for 204 tribes, about two-thirds of the total in the lower 48 states. In states where P.L. 280 does not apply, the federal government retains criminal jurisdiction for major crimes committed under the Indian Country Crimes Act (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1152), the Indian Country Major Crimes Act (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1153), and the Assimilative Crimes Act (Title 18, United States Code, Section 13).

Sworn officers

Persons formally authorized to make arrests while acting within the scope of explicit legal authority.

The Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act was signed into law in 1990. It requires institutions of higher education that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near campus. Clery Act statistics are available on the Campus Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool site.

(*Bureau of Justice Statistics)