A law enforcement officer
) or peace officer
, in North American English, is a public-sector employee whose duties primarily involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, municipal law
enforcement officers, special police officers, customs officers, state troopers, special agents, special investigators, border patrol
officers, immigration officers, court officers, probation officers, parole
officers, arson investigators, auxiliary officers, game wardens, sheriffs, corrections, marshals, and deputies. Security guards are civilians and therefore not law enforcement officers, unless they have been granted powers to enforce particular laws, such as those accredited under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme. Although typically the term "law enforcement officer" refers to those government agents with police powers, prosecutors are also law enforcement officers.
Modern legal codes use the term peace officer
(or in some jurisdictions, law enforcement officer
) to include every person vested by the legislating state with law enforcement authority—traditionally, anyone "sworn, badged, and armable" who can arrest, or refer such arrest for a criminal prosecution
. Hence, city police officers, county sheriffs' deputies, and state troopers are usually vested with the same authority within a given jurisdiction. Contract security officers may enforce certain laws and administrative regulations, which may include detainment or apprehension authority, but not arresting. Peace officers
may also be able to perform all duties that a law enforcement officer is tasked with, but may or may not be armed with a weapon.