When Your Future is On The Line, You Owe it to
Yourself to Get the Best Defense Possible for
Your Case!

Difference Between Local Police and Highway Patrol

Local police and state highway patrol are both tasked with the same goal: enforcing the law and protecting citizens. Despite this shared purpose, there are notable differences between these two law enforcement agencies. The most notable distinction is the size of their jurisdiction. Local police are responsible for the detection, investigation, and prevention of crime within a specific municipality whereas highway patrolmen or state troopers have the authority to enforce the law across the whole state.

Local Police/Sheriff 

A sheriff is recognizable

A sheriff is elected by the voters in their county and usually must pass a civil service exam. The responsibilities of sheriffs vary considerably from state to state and county to county, some of which may include:

  • operating patrols, enforcing traffic laws or investigating crimes
  • running the county jail/working as jail guard
  • providing security to the courts/working as bailiff
  • serving civil processes/subpoenas on reluctant witnesses

A sheriff may have a number of officers, called deputy sheriffs, to supervise, although sheriff’s departments tend to be relatively small

State Trooper Duties

State troopers wear brown uniforms and a wide-brimmed Smoky the Bear style hat. They also wear star-shaped badges and patches on their sleeves to indicate their ranks. State troopers are employees of a state agency such as the State Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicles, Public Safety or a similar agency, and their salary comes from State funds.

Their duties generally include:

  • patrolling a state’s roads and highways, freeways, and expressways
  • enforcing traffic and criminal laws
  • preventing criminals from skipping over county lines to escape punishment
  • responding to calls for emergency assistance from accident victims
  • assisting small town police and other agencies or investigate crimes occurring on state property
  • have access to specialized criminal forensics labs and major traffic accident reconstruction units, aviation units, drug units, and SWAT teams
  • acting as witnesses at trials and transport prisoners