California Police Departments There are over 280 municipal police departments in the state of California. In addition, there are 42 departments serving colleges and universities, 22 school district police departments, and 28 other police agencies. These other agencies serve a variety of transit systems, ports, parks, airports, and communities which have partnered to create shared police departments. Not every city has a police department; some contract with their county sheriff’s department to provide law enforcement services within the incorporated area. The largest university police force in the state is at the University of California-Berkeley, which employs 73 full-time sworn personnel. The Los Angeles Unified School District has the second-largest public school police force in the nation, with 340 full-time sworn officers. The third-largest transportation-related police department in the United States serves Los Angeles World Airports with 577 full-time sworn personnel.
In all, the police departments in the state employ 55,900 total personnel, 39,692 of which are sworn officers. This amounts to 153 personnel per 100,000 residents, well below the national average of 195 personnel per 100,000 residents. The third-largest law enforcement agency in the nation is the Los Angeles Police Department, which employs 9,727 full-time sworn officers, providing 256 officers per 100,000 residents.
The Oakland Police Department has been under federal scrutiny since 2003, when a federal civil rights case alleging false arrests, planted evidence, excessive use of force, and falsified reports was settled for nearly $11 million. The Negotiated Settlement Agreement required the police department to make major reforms, with an independent monitor appointed to oversee implementation. In 2013, after evidence that the reforms had not been fully implemented, the U.S. District Judge appointed a Compliance Director who has unprecedented powers to force corrective action, even for conduct not specified in the original settlement.
Many police departments do not operate their own jail. Instead, they take persons who have been arrested to the county facility run by the sheriff’s department. A police department may have a few temporary holding cells in which suspects are kept while they are being processed and questioned; then they are moved to the county jail. Some larger departments do operate a jail facility. These are generally used to hold suspects for up to a week who are awaiting trial or arraignment. An offender sentenced to serve up to a year of jail time would be transferred to a county facility after trial; anyone sentenced to more than a year in jail would be transferred to a state facility.
Typically, the booking process for a city jail includes the following steps:
- Recording the suspect’s personal information and description
- Photographing the arrestee (mug shot)
- Collection and recording of personal property
- Collection of DNA, if required
Not surprisingly, the largest jail system run by a police department is located in Los Angeles. The LAPD operates three large detention centers and seven smaller facilities located in various parts of the city.