Glossary of Government Agencies
Attorney General: (state) The attorney
general is the top lawyer for the state of California. The
Attorney general's office is part of the California Department
of Justice. The Attorney General is in charge of representing
California in civil cases and some criminal matters. The
AG also helps local district attorneys and police with investigations
when necessary, operates statewide drug enforcement operations,
and generates and compiles data on criminal justice matters
on the state and county level.
Auditor-Controller: (city and county)
Auditor-controllers are the money monitors for city and
county governments. The auditor monitors accounting systems,
conducts regular audits, documents fiscal transactions,
computes tax rates, and corrects tax rolls. The controller
approves payments and issues checks for goods and services
purchased, issues the payroll, handles accounts receivable,
and estimates revenue for the budget of city or county offices,
schools, agencies, and special districts. Sometimes there
are two separate offices, but it is usually combined into
a single office within the Department of Finance.
California Board of Corrections: (state)
The California Board of Corrections governs the maintenance
and operations of local jails and juvenile halls. The board
inspects local correctional facilities for compliance with
state law, gives technical and financial assistance to counties
for jail construction.
California Department of Corrections:
(state) The California Department of Corrections operates
all state prisons, oversees community correctional facilities,
and supervises all parolees during the re-entry process.
California Department of Finance: (state)
The California Department of Finance prepares the states
annual financial plan and advises the Governor's office
on the annual budget and fiscal policy.
California Legislative Analysis Office:
(state) The Legislative Analysis Office reviews the annual
budget and makes recommendations about spending priorities,
waste and pork- barrel spending.
California Youth Authority: (state)
CYA is like the statewide prison system for youth. There
are 11 CYA facilities in California. At these facilities,
The CYA is supposed to be responsible for overseeing training
and treatment. Once youth are released, the CYA is supposed
to supervise work release, community and victim restoration
for juveniles. CYA coordinates youth crime prevention programs.
City Attorney: (city) The city attorney
is the lawyer and advisor for all city government departments.
The city attorney drafts laws and legal documents and represents
they city in all legal actions.
City Clerk: (city) The city clerk is
the record keeper and secretary for the city council. The
city clerk keeps records of all city council activities,
city-owned property transactions, city elections, financial
records, franchises, and ordinances. The clerk also administers
oaths of office, provides administrative and personnel services
to the city council, provides background research and documents
to council members. Sometimes the clerk is elected, but
usually the position is appointed.
City Manager: (city) The City Manager
is the operations officer for the city. The City Manager's
main duties include: to advise, inform, and recommend actions
to the mayor and city council.
Civilian Police Review Board: (city)
A civilian police review board is a city agency separate
from the police department that takes complaints about police.
It is not required that every city have a civilian police
review board, and many cities do not have them. The power
of a civilian police review board varies from city to city,
but usually, a police review board has the power to review
complaints of misconduct by police officers, conduct fact-finding
investigations and make advisory reports to either the City
Manager or the police chief.
County Clerk: (county) Collects and
maintains county legal records and documents. Duties of
the County Clerk vary from county to county. In many counties
it is typical for the County Clerk to be combined with the
District Attorney: (county) District
attorneys are the lawyers for the county that prosecute
criminal cases. When a person is arrested, the district
attorney decides whether the person will face criminal charges
and what the charges will be. The district attorney also
presents evidence in court against criminal defendants and
advocates for the sentence that the district attorney thinks
the criminal defendant should receive. For juveniles in
California, district attorneys also have the power to automatically
transfer a juvenile to adult court for certain crimes.
Internal Affairs: (city) Internal affairs
is part of the police department. It is the office in the
police department that responds to complaints about police
and reviews internal management issues. IA receives and
investigates complaints about officers, other department
personnel, and police practices. IA interviews witnesses,
makes findings, and prepares case summaries. Sometimes IA
offices also maintain complaint statistics, recommend risk
management practices, and coordinate cases with the staff
from the city's civilian police review board.
Police Department: (city) The police
are supposed to fight crime. The police are responsible
for enforcement of laws, investigative services, traffic
enforcement, and issuing, controlling and revoking of certain
types of business permits. In some cities, the department
ALSO handles animal control, property storage, evidence
collection and analysis, statistical reporting, abandoned
vehicle abatement, crime analysis, street crossing guards,
and K-9 dogs.
Probation Department/Office: (county)
The probation department is in charge of supervising people
who have been sentenced and placed on probation. People
on probation have to follow certain rules that the judge
gives them (like participating in a drug program or being
home every night after 6 PM) and stay within county limits
until their probation is over. Probation officers manage
probation cases, including keeping in contact with people
on probation and administering court ordered conditions
Public Affairs: (city) Public Affairs
is a city office that usually handles communication between
the city and the media and/or the public. The public affairs
office may publicize events and provide information to media
outlets, police staff or other city agencies. They also
respond to queries from groups, organizations, and individuals.
Sheriff Department: (county) The Sheriff's
Department runs the county jail and polices the parts of
the county that are not inside any city boundaries. Sheriffs
also transport prisoners to and from the jail, serve papers
in civil lawsuits, provide courtroom bailiffs and marshals,
assist other public safety agencies in the county, and provide
services to the superior court. The department may also
issue certain licenses and permits. All counties must elect
a sheriff. Some counties combine the offices of sheriff
Superior Court: (county) The
county superior court is the court where most lawsuits and
criminal cases are filed. In California, superior courts
have the authority to hear most criminal, civil, family,
and probate (will) cases. They also maintain court records
of their proceedings.
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