"Police" forces are government organizations charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order ("law enforcement"), and protecting the general public from harm. The word comes from French ''police'', itself from Latin ''politia'' ("civil administration"), itself from Ancient Greek πολιτεια, referring to government or administration, from Greek πολις (polis) = "city". The word ''police'' was first recorded in the French language in 1250 (in the sense of "administration, political organisation"), but it acquired its modern sense of preservation of law and order only in the 17th century. The police may also be known as a constabulary, after constables, who were an early manifestation of police officers, although the term constable is still in use in some jurisdictions. In North America, typically the legal term for "police officer" is peace officer, although the public typically refers to them as police. Other names include sheriff, marshal and ranger.
In ancient times, the military was mostly responsible for maintaining law and order in cities. The Roman Empire had a reasonably effective law enforcement system until the decline of the empire, though t...