Do the police prevent crime or punish criminals?

In my experience, I’ve never seen a police officer act before a crime could be committed. Only after. If this is the case, were the police force made to punish only those we deem criminal? Does this make them our societal protectors just because they punish others we say they should?
Police prevent crime
Police punish criminals.
Select gender and age to cast your vote:
Do the police prevent crime or punish criminals?
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