Sometimes I see “police” and sometimes I see “the police” – what’s the difference?
Use the police when referring to the institution/organization:
- The store has been robbed. Call the police!
- My son wants to join the police when he grows up.
Police (without “the”) can be used to refer to an unspecified number of individual officers:
- Police searched the area for evidence.
- He was killed in a shootout with police.
…but it’s also OK to use “the” in these situations:
- The police searched the area for evidence.
- He was killed in a shootout with the police.
When referring to the institution/organization, always use the police.
When referring to a group of officers, you can use police or the police – both are OK
Never say “a police” to talk about an individual. Instead, say:
- a policeman
- a policewoman
- a police officer