Magistrates such as procurators fiscal and quaestors investigated crimes.
For officers of such organizations, see Police officer. Many police forces suffer from police corruption to a greater or lesser degree.
Police forces are often defined as being separate from military or other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing.
The vigiles were supported by the Urban Cohorts who acted as a heavy-duty anti-riot force and even the Praetorian Guard if necessary.
In medieval Spain, Santa Hermandades, or "holy brotherhoods", peacekeeping associations of armed individuals, were a characteristic of municipal life, especially in Castile.
Under the reign of Augustus, when the capital had grown to almost one million inhabitants, 14 wards were created; the wards were protected by seven squads of 1,000 men called "vigiles", who acted as firemen and nightwatchmen.
Their duties included apprehending thieves and robbers and capturing runaway slaves.
Among the most powerful was the league of North Castilian and Basque ports, the Hermandad de las marismas: Toledo, Talavera, and Villarreal.
As one of their first acts after end of the War of the Castilian Succession in 1479, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile established the centrally-organized and efficient Holy Brotherhood as a national police force.
First attested in English in the early 15th century, initially in a range of senses encompassing '(public) policy; state; public order', the word police comes from Middle French police ('public order, administration, government'), Law enforcement in ancient China was carried out by "prefects" for thousands of years since it developed in both the Chu and Jin kingdoms of the Spring and Autumn period.
In Jin, dozens of prefects were spread across the state, each having limited authority and employment period.
The term is most commonly associated with police services of a sovereign state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility.