long arm of the law
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- (idiomatic, almost always preceded by the) The influence or effectiveness of law enforcement institutions; law enforcement officers collectively.
- 1889, Wilkie Collins, chapter 60, in The Legacy of Cain:
- It is my belief that I could have felt no greater dismay, if the long arm of the Law had laid its hold on me while he was speaking.
- 1979 September 3, “Pass the Buck”, in Time:
- The long arm of the law does not protect banks the way it used to.
- 2008 September 12, Lisa Rein, “Jurisdictions Share Data on Ex-Offenders”, in Washington Post:
- "Repeat violent offenders will hopscotch over state lines to avoid the long arm of the law," said Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
influence or effectiveness of law enforcement