(the) local law enforcement

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Mulder wants to go on with an investigation of a case in Sioux City but Scully believes there's nothing to do anymore for them here and they should go back to D.C.:
— It's over, Mulder. It's time to go home and turn this over to local law enforcement.
The X-Files, TV series

She means "local law enforcement" in a general sense (still implying Sioux City though though); if she wanted to be more specific (Sioux City's local law enforcement), she'd say "the local law enforcement" -- is that right?
Thanks.
 
  • BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Local law enforcement would refer to the city or county they were in when they said it.
     

    BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    We'll leave it to the locals = the same Even the full phrase, we'll leave to the local law enforcement people, the meaning remains the same.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    So, is there some generalizing in omitting THE here?, what do you think?

    Local law enforcement would refer to the city or county they were in when they said it.
    That is, on returning to D.C., they would never say -- "we turned this over to local law enforcement":cross:, only "we turned this over to THE local law enforcement":tick: would be correct, right?
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    unless (as Bluegaze mentions) "local law enforcement" is used as a modifier
    What's then confusing me is local law is itself used as a modifier for "enforcement", and "enforcement" is still enforcement in Sioux City, that is, specific in some way... am I wrong?
     

    BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Yes, again, it is the enforcement of the law and local law specifically. So wherever they are Sioux City or Podunk or Seattle, they are going to let the police of the area take care of the situation.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    It's difficult to analyze because I really think "local law enforcement" is short for "local law enforcement representatives," or something like that. But I'd say the words law+enforcement have to be considered a unit - a noun phrase. I don't think it would be correct to say that "law" modifies "enforcement." They have to be considered a unit or they don't make any sense.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    What's then confusing me is local law is itself used as a modifier for "enforcement", and "enforcement" is still enforcement in Sioux City, that is, specific in some way... am I wrong?
    I would say that law modifies enforcement, and local then modifies law enforcement. Yes, they enforce local laws, but the term usually refers to law enforcement for a certain locality.

    And I agree with Kate (post 6) about the.


    Cross-posted with Kate.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you for your answers.
    Two questions:
    1. So, the idea is: local law enforcement itself is too abstract to use it with THE in this context. It means:
    local law enforcement here
    local law enforcement in Sioux City

    But she could've said "THE local law enforcement agency", which would require THE.
    Right?

    2. If instead of 'agency' were then a plural noun, like: It's time to go home and turn this over to (the) local law enforcement people/officials, would it require THE or would the article be optional?
     

    BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    All I know is local law enforcement people/agencies or the local law enforcement people/agencies both are fine with me. I have nothing more to say on this matter.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, but I meant "agency" in a particular context, not "agencies" in general. And "people/officials" in relation to the specific Sioux City agency, not any "agencies". That's why two different question.:(

    Anyone, please, have something to say?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    There is no one specific "agency" in law enforcement to use "the" with: sheriff and county police, state police, city police departments etc. are all different components of what is referred to as "local law enforcement". That's just the way it is. That's why she used the term. That's why she didn't use alternatives. Very informally she might have said "the locals".
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    It's difficult to analyze because I really think "local law enforcement" is short for "local law enforcement representatives," or something like that.
    At first I thought the same thing, because "enforcement" is an action, not a group of people; and I saw it as an AmE idiom that, as with most idioms, doesn't have the literal meaning of its component words. (The UK doesn't have all those sheriffs and city/county/state police and federal agencies: we just have "the police":p, so we would "turn it over to the local police".)

    Then I realised that we do have a similar structure in the expression "local government" (which might mean parish council, district council, borough council, county council, ... or whatever they've become these days: non-metropolitan unitary authorities, or some such gobbledygook): Whitehall decided to turn it over to local government.

    Here, I don't see "government" as necessarily being short for "government representatives", but as representing at one and the same time an entity and an activity or function. I think that, in AmE, "law enforcement" has a similar semantic status (whereas in BrE it would mean only 'the enforcement of law(s)', not the people/entity doing the enforcing).

    Ws
    [Edit: Nothing changed after all!]
     
    Last edited:

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The parallel of "local government" had occurred to me too, and I think it is a good analogy. You would need to know the detailed structure of the people involved in government to know how to find a specific office or person, so the concept becomes almost amorphous and "local government" has the same generality as the US "local law enforcement".
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Yes, I like "amorphous", JS.

    Vik, we also use the same construction in other contexts: We passed the information to senior management. There, "senior management" refers to the 'amorphous' function. If we said "We passed the information to the senior management", it would refer more to the people in that position.

    Ws
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you, everyone !

    One question: if, in this particular movie context, she said one of these instead:
    local law enforcement people
    local law enforcement officials
    local law enforcement representatives
    ... article THE would not still be used,
    right?
     
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