State Police Agencies
Forty-nine states have some type of state police agency; only Hawaii does not. It is ironic that one of the longest running police series on television was also one of the least accurate. From 1968 to 1980, viewers of Hawaii Five-0 followed the exploits of an elite state police unit that targeted organized crime. Although the show was filmed entirely in Hawaii, the state police unit was fictional.
The other 49 states all have a state police agency, but not all such agencies are the same. There are two basic types of state police agencies—fullservice and highway patrol agencies. In these agencies, most officers (generally called troopers in state policing) work primarily in uniform, although both types of agencies have some plainclothes assignments. The third type of state police agency is a state investigative agency in which all officers are assigned to work out of uniform. While the name of the agency often makes plain the jurisdiction of its officers, the name alone may not signify the types of job opportunities that exist.
As of 2004, state police agencies employed about 58,000 full-time sworn personnel, almost 70% of whom were troopers (the entry-level rank). Slightly over 10% were investigators and the remaining almost 20% were supervisory officers. These figures do not include state investigative agencies, but are based solely on either full-service or highway patrol agencies.
Generally, state police agencies have lower percentages of minority men and all women than local police departments and sheriffs' offices. The reasons are complex; some have to do with these groups, particularly women, having a shorter history in this area of law enforcement. Some women are also discouraged by the emphasis on physical skills and fitness. Another reason seems to be the residential training that is conducted primarily in rural portions of the state.
In recent years, state police agencies have made considerable efforts to increase their numbers of women and minority candidates. They are recruiting actively on college campuses, featuring women and minority males on their recruitment teams and on their websites, and generally trying to create a more inviting culture at their academies without diluting their training routines.
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