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Police Captain

Switch Blayde

I know police forces come in different sizes and shapes (usually determined by the size of the city/force) and that reflects responsibilities, but I'm wondering about a police captain in a so-so size town.

I imagined a police captain being in charge of a police station with divisions under him, such as homicide, vice, burglary, etc.

But when I googled it, the LA police site says there's a captain for homicide, another for vice, etc.

If the latter is true, does that mean there are multiple captains in a police station? And is there a situation where homicide and vice both report to a single captain?

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

As you say, it all depends on the department's size

LA isn't a so-so size town. It's one of the largest cities in the country, if not the largest. Correspondingly, it has one of the largest police forces.

Yes, a PD the size of LA's would have multiple captains per precinct, and a higher ranking officer in charge of the overall precinct.

On the other hand, a very small PD could have only one precinct, and a bunch of uniform officers and detectives(if they have any) all reporting directly to the chief of police.

At some point in the middle, you will have one captain per precinct.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

LA isn't a so-so size town.


I only mentioned L.A. because that was the only one I found on Google.

Growing up in NYC (which has the largest police force in the country if not the world), I thought a precinct was run by a captain. Under him was homicide, vice, etc. A lieutenant would be in, say, homicide, another in vice, but they would all report to the precinct captain.

But I read there are captains of divisions, like homicide and vice.

In my story, I want both homicide and vice to report to the same captain. I'm asking if that's doable.

Replies:   docholladay  REP
docholladay
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

It might work if early on you reference the overall size of the force. Size after all will determine how many divisions are merged into one division.

edited to add: give the size in relation to LA or any other major police department.

zebra69347

It is your story, so you can set the rules.

In the United Kingdom there are no police captains. We go from constable, sergeant, inspector to superintendent and beyond.

In Australia there have constable, first class constable and more!

Ernest Bywater

each force has it's own structure. Some have an officer in charge of a precinct, while some have and officer only in charge of certain services in a precinct. I did a lot of research for Odd Man in College and found in some jurisdiction the precinct will have a major in charge with all the division captains reporting to him, and he reports to the chief. While another will have multiple division in the one precinct building and each will have their own captain, and each will report to their own division head at hq; in this situation the uniform officers and detectives don't have any authority over each other at all. And there's ever variation in between in the USA. The other thing I learned was that the county sheriff has authority over the police chief in most states.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

If the latter is true, does that mean there are multiple captains in a police station? And is there a situation where homicide and vice both report to a single captain?

A captain is similar to a sergeant in the army, they're in charge of a small unit within the local police department only.

The person in charge of a city Police Department is the police Chief, although most small towns, without separate departments, are run by single person, though he's usually STILL called the police Chief.

In my story, I want both homicide and vice to report to the same captain. I'm asking if that's doable.

I researched the NYPD rankings for a story never published. You should have the different local divisions report to a central lieutenant, each led by separate chiefs.

REP

@Switch Blayde

In my story, I want both homicide and vice to report to the same captain. I'm asking if that's doable.


Form fits function. The town's/city's needs define the structure of the police department. Thus homicide and vice can be part of the same department. The title/rank assigned to the person managing each level of the structure is determined by the police department. Thus the department containing your Vice and Homicide groups could be managed by a Captain.

Jay Cantrell

Hey, make it work however you want. You can have a commissioner or a chief over 10 captains, with lieutenants overseeing detectives first through third grade and reporting up the chain.

It is your city. You are the mayor and the city council. So long as you're consistent the readers will figure it out.

At least that was my experience when I created a mid-sized tourist city in Death and a Life in Emerald Cove.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

Thanks, everyone.

I basically said the Captain runs the police station and everyone in the station works for him. That includes Homicide, Vice, and everything else.

On a different note, I need to have someone wired to record a conversation of someone wanting to hire him to kill her husband. My guess is the police can have someone wear a wire and record it if they get a warrant to do so.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Jay Cantrell

Hey, make it work however you want. You can have a commissioner or a chief over 10 captains, with lieutenants overseeing detectives first through third grade and reporting up the chain.

As an alternative, you can always have the police chief (chief of police) assign the two agencies to work together for a specific multi-agency project. It requires a little more setup, but should work well, without relying on a make-believe city.

@switch

I need to have someone wired to record a conversation of someone wanting to hire him to kill her husband. My guess is the police can have someone wear a wire and record it if they get a warrant to do so.

Most departments (other than beat cops) can arrange for a wire, though it needs to be approved by a judge, otherwise it'll never hold up in court. The police aren't allowed to spy on private citizens (even though judges are largely rubber stamps in most cases).

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

On a different note, I need to have someone wired to record a conversation of someone wanting to hire him to kill her husband. My guess is the police can have someone wear a wire and record it if they get a warrant to do so.


Depends on the circumstances, the state laws, and if you want it as valid court evidence, as well as when this is. Today the laws on recording things is very different to what they were 30 years ago, and different again to 50 years ago.

In some states anyone can record what anyone is doing in a public place, in some you can't. In some states the owner of a place can record what goes on in it except if it's a private area like a bathroom or bedroom, and it's a legal recording, in others they have to have a notice about recording readily visible. Heck in some states the laws are such a private citizen can record something in a public place and it's legal evidence, while the cops have to first get a warrant to make the same recording in the same place for it to be legal evidence in court. Some places have real weird laws.

To make it harder, in some places it's a crime for anyone to record someone without them knowing it unless you have a court order allowing it.

There's a YouTube channel TVman1981 where they show the clips of an On the Street reporter for KRON 4 News in the San Francisco Area. He's always coming up with people screaming about them not giving him permission to record them while on the public street, but he can because the California laws say it's legal for anyone to record anyone in a public place - this is extra funny when he's riding along with the cops and the cops have to tell the people the guy can record them. Yet, in other states such reporters have to ask permission to before they can record what people are doing in the same situation, and in some they have to get signed approvals before they can air it.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

There's a YouTube channel TVman1981 where they show the clips of an On the Street reporter for KRON 4 News in the San Francisco Area. He's always coming up with people screaming about them not giving him permission to record them while on the public street, but he can because the California laws say it's legal for anyone to record anyone in a public place - this is extra funny when he's riding along with the cops and the cops have to tell the people the guy can record them. Yet, in other states such reporters have to ask permission to before they can record what people are doing in the same situation, and in some they have to get signed approvals before they can air it.

And yet the NSA continues to listen to everyone, with only a marginal presence of 'judicial oversight' to cover any future criticism.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

And yet the NSA continues to listen to everyone, with only a marginal presence of 'judicial oversight' to cover any future criticism.


Contrary to Snowden and the US media who never bother to check facts the NSA doesn't listen to anyone within the USA, that's done by various US law enforcement organisations at the local, state, and federal level (including the DoJ and FBI) who then pipe their collected records over to the NSA who process it through their computers as required by the Patriot Act before seeing if any of it matches up with their data. The data the NSA collects itself is only from sources outside the USA, with some of it being after they cross the border. However, you do need to keep in mind there is not a single communications satellite within the US borders, and the communications companies also routinely route signals outside the USA when their internal circuits are under a heavy strain. Thus signals from Seattle to New York may be routed via Canada, and thus be picked up after they leave the USA, same is true for anything bounced off the satellites, or routed via Mexico etc.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Depends on the circumstances, the state laws, and if you want it as valid court evidence, as well as when this is. Today the laws on recording things is very different to what they were 30 years ago, and different again to 50 years ago.


From what I found, if a judge signs off on it then it's legal to secretly record someone even in private and it's admissible in court. I originally called it a warrant in my story, but I'm not sure if the judge signing off on it is the same as a warrant so I simply said the judge signed off on it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde


From what I found, if a judge signs off on it then it's legal to secretly record someone even in private and it's admissible in court. I originally called it a warrant in my story,


The exact terminology can vary between jurisdictions, but a good general use one is 'Court Order.' The rest, like warrants etc. are just special court orders.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The data the NSA collects itself is only from sources outside the USA

That's clearly not the case. In most instances, the person needs to converse with someone (i.e. anyone) outside the U.S.), but that's a mere technicality. If someone communicates with someone outside of the country, then anything they say to anyone else, and by extension, anything those others then say to others, is legitimate for the NSA to grab (by grabbing it directly from the telcom and phone companies).

It's hardly a reliable safeguard, again serving only as a 'sorry, we never intended to do exactly what we've been doing for the past decade' coverall.

@Ernest

I originally called it a warrant in my story, but I'm not sure if the judge signing off on it is the same as a warrant so I simply said the judge signed off on it.

What the judge signs off is a warrant. It's the legal document allowing interception of private information between individuals (left over from the days when they'd intercept snail-mail exchanges before delivery).

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

The data the NSA collects itself is only from sources outside the USA

That's clearly not the case.


CW,

The systems where the NSA does its own collections of cabled communications are actually constructed outside of the USA, they have a some interesting structures built in Canada to do that for them. Not sure where the system for the collection of the satellite communications are. The great bulk of those communications are with people outside of the USA, however, sometimes the communications companies (especially ISPs) direct a message through circuits that leave the USA and return because of the traffic levels, and such cases also get picked up by the NSA. All that information is sent to the NSA computers for analysis. The NSA also gets a lot of data sent to it that was collected by the associated agencies in other countries like the UK, NZ, Australia, Canada, etc. (do a wikipedia check on ECHELON for more details). Thus NSA is used to incorporating data from other sources in their analysis process. Thus, when they enacted the Patriot Act they told the internal USA agencies collecting data to send it to the NSA for analysis alongside what the NSA already have - and that's where the data management program PRISM comes into the picture.

What people get confused about is the data collected inside the USA isn't collected by NSA or organised for collection by NSA, but is collected by various local, state, and federal organisations and piped over to the NSA for analysis. The process works by FBI etc. establishing a collection point and then installing gear to ship the collected material direct to the NSA - thus the FBI collects and the NSA analyses. It's like where someone owns a few oil wells who pump the oil, then ship it to a refinery owned by someone else, the refinery owners don't drill or control the well, they just process the oil produced by it.

Your comment on safeguards is very true, but there are already many safeguards in place on what NSA does and doesn't collect itself. However, they have no application or control over what the other agencies collect and ship to the NSA for inclusion, and that's where the problems are, and where better safeguards are needed.

Mind you, the NSA computers process so much data that over 99% of it is dumped direct through their filters without any record being kept it exists at all. Before it gets to the real analytical stages it goes through several automated screens, and only if it meets the criteria for deeper checking does it end up being closely looked at. Those early screens look for certain catch words and phrases only, and later ones look for patterns in what has been bumped up the line. The process of winnowing continues until something is passed up to the point it needs to be looked at by a human, and that is something along the lines of 0.0000000001% of the material initially collected.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

What the judge signs off is a warrant. It's the legal document allowing interception of private information between individuals (left over from the days when they'd intercept snail-mail exchanges before delivery).


The exact terminology used varies between jurisdictions, however, any document or order signed and issued by a court of law or a judge is a Court Order and the great majority of them fall into the category know as a Writ within that are other sub-categories of which there are Warrants and they come in many sub-sub-categories like an Arrest Warrant, a Search Warrant, etc. Not all jurisdictions call the Writ issued for recordings a Warrant, while some do. If Switch calls it a Court Order or a Writ he's cover regardless of what the local laws call it; or he can stay with just saying the judge signed off on it.

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