- "There's law, and there's justice, and sometimes they're not the same thing."
- ―Captain Lon Shevu
A law enforcement agency was an organization that enforced the law under the authority of some government. Most were referred to as a police force or security force.
Law enforecement agencies throughout galactic history took on different names and functions. Some organizations such as the Jedi Order took on other duties as soldiers and diplomats while others such as the Imperial Security Bureau enforced the will of the state through deception and intimidation.
Law enforcement organizations were generally divided into three jurisdictional divisions although sometimes an agency could perform functions that were a part of all three. There were agencies with galactic wide duties, agencies with planetary and local duties, and then there were agencies that served various other functions including counter-terrorism and political enforcement.
- "We are keepers of the peace, not soldiers."
- ―Jedi Master Mace Windu
The Jedi Order was founded on Tython around 25,783 BBY and it would become one of the oldest organizations in the galaxy who served as law enforcers and keepers of the peace. Though the Jedi would serve the Galactic Republic in many ways, they would continually maintain their presence in galactic peacekeeping in the forms of the Jedi Peacekeeper and the Jedi investigator. Throughout the early history of the Republic, most law enforcement was conducted primarily by local militias in conjunction with the Judicial Department and the Jedi Order. Depending upon the population, various planetary militias transformed to focus more on providing police services than military defense except in a time of war. One of the oldest known planetary police was the Coruscant Security Force Other older police included the Telos Security Force, and the Taris Civil Authority.
The Ruusan Reformation made dramatic changes to how the Republic policed its space with a greater emphasis on peacekeeping and law enforcement than military action. The remaining elements of the Republic Military were converted into the Judicial Forces. They, and the Jedi Order, were placed under the control of the Judicial Department whose role in law enforcement and legal matters was consequently expanded. The Republic Security Force was formed as the lead, civilian patrol force for the Judicial Department. The Republic Office of Criminal Investigations was established as the lead investigative service for the Republic though other elements of the Judicial Department conducted investigations as well.
The role of the Senate Guard was also expanded from simple diplomatic security duties to serving as Coruscant's secondary police force. By the end of the Republic's rule other agencies were established with specific duties including the Sector Rangers, who served as sector and system level police to assist local and planetary agencies with cases that crossed different jurisdictions; and Republic Domestic Security which was set up in the later stages of the Clone Wars to protect government secrets including financial ones.
- "Fear will keep the local systems in line."
- ―Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
The reorganization of galactic law enforcement from the Old Republic into the Galactic Empire had mixed results of efficiency and tyranny. Most of the Republic law enforcement agencies were brought in under the umbrella of the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order. The Sector Rangers were rechristened as the Imperial Sector Rangers and reported to the Imperial Office of Criminal Investigations. However, the Rangers remained out of the political agenda of the New Order.
Though these organizations occupied themselves with everyday crime, the real authority in enforcing Imperial law lay with the Stormtrooper Corps and the Imperial Security Bureau. Operating as a secret police, the ISB constructed a vast network of spies, agents, and officers that would ensure loyalty to the Empire and ultimately Emperor Palpatine. The Imperial Stormtrooper provided the most obvious reminder of Imperial might. Stormtroopers were used to put down rebellions, ensure the loyalty of local governments, and in some cases, act as or supplement local police an example being the Coruscant Guard.
- "Welcome to the next chapter in the history of the galaxy."
- ―General Tyr Taskeen
In contrast to the Empire, the New Republic dismantled or decentralized its role in galactic law enforcement. The Imperial Sector Rangers were dissolved, ending one of the last remnants of the Old Republic's peacekeeping efforts. The New Republic Security Force was established in its place. The NRSF continued some of the law enforcement functions of the Sector Rangers, however, one of their central goals was fighting the Palpatine Counter-Insurgency Front.
Because of the decentralized stance on galactic law enforcement, patrolling New Republic space against smugglers, pirates, and other criminal activities largely became the responsibility of the New Republic Defense Fleet. They were assisted in part by the New Jedi Order some of whose members took advantage of the decentralized structure in the Order and its mandate as a peacekeeping force to take a heavy hand in galactic law enforcement.
- "You have to keep the secret police separate from the nice, polite officers who police the street. Sends a message that ordinary law-abiding Coruscanti have nothing to fear, while demonstrating maximum force to the enemy."
- ―Senator G'vli G'Sil
The Yuuzhan Vong War that lasted from 25 ABY till 29 ABY had left planets ravaged by war and Vongforming. The newly formed Galactic Federation of Free Alliances had to not only rebuild the galaxy but protect it as well. During the reconstruction period as the Galactic Alliance government was established on Denon and later Coruscant, the government operated the Reconstruction Authority Space Patrol which was set up under the Reconstruction Authority. Its responsibilities included the supervision of funds that were meant for reconstruction efforts and the general enforcement of law and order such as patrolling Alliance space for smugglers and pirates.
When tension began to rise in 40 ABY between Corellia and the Galactic Alliance over government control issues, terrorism by Corellians became an increasing threat on Coruscant. To counter this issue, the Galactic Alliance established the Galactic Alliance Guard under the leadership of then Jedi Knight Jacen Solo. Although the GAG was established as a counter-terrorism force staffed by cops and intelligence officers, it quickly became a ruthless military force whose ranks where filled with some of the least desired soldiers. The end of the Second Galactic Civil War and the death of Chief of State Darth Caedus, formerly called Jacen Solo, saw the GAG disbanded.
Following the end of the Second Galactic Civil War in 41 ABY, Galactic Alliance Security was established as the central Alliance law enforcement and security agency. The Galactic Alliance also operated a second law enforcement organization called the Alliance Marshals. The new Chief of State Natasi Daala moved swiftly against the New Jedi Order for both political and public safety reasons. Several Jedi began suffering from Force psychosis and GA Security was placed in charge of arresting and imprisoning those Jedi. However, their methods later became very controversial. Though the Jedi Order under the leadership of Luke Skywalker had continued to serve as a peacekeeping and law enforcement organization for the Galactic Alliance, Daala sought to bring the Order under a more direct government control and stop the Jedi's seemingly disregard for local or Alliance law in criminal investigations.
Types and jurisdictions
- "GA Security has legal jurisdiction, those others have profit motive, and all we have is the fact that we're right."
- ―Luke Skywalker, after Valin Horn's capture
Galactic law enforcement agencies generally received their authority from the then current galactic government. Generally, their physical jurisdiction included anything under the galactic government's authority an example being Galactic Alliance Security. However, some agencies had very specific jurisdictional boundaries that related to certain tasks and crimes. An example being Republic Domestic Security which had complete authority over incidents involving high government and financial secrets of the Republic.
- "We're the law on Coruscant. Not the Jedi."
- ―CSF Detective Gwad Raatu
Planetary security forces varied greatly depending upon how highly the planet's society had developed. Many planetary police forces doubled as militia and military defense forces such as the Royal Naboo Security Forces. However, in these cases, the security forces mostly dealt with smugglers and criminals, not full out war. The Invasion of Naboo highlighted this as the Naboo Security Forces were unable to prevent the occupation of the planet. Other planetary police were in the form of city police although in several cases these police were either corrupt, under the control of corporations, or ineffectual. Planets with highly developed societies such as Coruscant and Corellia, had the most well known and effectually organized police forces.
The Coruscant Security Force produced several members who would later join the Rebel Alliance as military commanders or intelligence operatives owing to their work as CorSec agents and police officers. Due to the complexity of Coruscant's infrastructure and society, the CSF was one of the most highly developed police forces in the galaxy CSF police officers were known as one of the most hard-nosed cops in the galaxy. The CSF database provided information to police agencies throughout the galaxy including the Jedi Order. Unique to the CSF was their authority to investigate crimes that occurred outside of Coruscant if the case was related to an investigation on Coruscant. The CSF also provide protection for the Galactic Alliance Chief of State.
- "We're the Imperial Security Bureau. What we say is principle; what we decide is regulation; what we do is law."
"And whoever you order shot is dead?"
"So you do understand."
- ―ISB Officer Drelfin and Stormtrooper Daric LaRone
Other law enforcement agencies operated as secret police or intelligence services. They generally operated in a legal gray area and were in many instances above the law. They either were involved in activities that enforced a political agenda or performed actions were regular police were unable to be involved due to laws or political ramifications. This could include arresting and imprisoning persons without trial, assassination and abductions, burglary, and intercepting private communications. The most commonly known agencies to perform these activities were the Imperial Security Bureau and the Galactic Alliance Guard.