A police officer, often known as either a law enforcement officer or a cop, is a warranted employee of a police department, force or military. Police officers are paid positions and are not appointed or elected to their post citizens. However, Police Chiefs and Commissioners may be elected by residents in the local community.
Officers of the law are sworn to an oath and are granted the power to arrest and imprison suspects, along with other legal enforcement practices. They are generally responsible for patrolling city streets and neighborhoods, apprehending criminals, maintaining public order, and preventing and detecting crimes.
Some may also be trained in special duties such as; crowd control, counter-terrorism, surveillance, child protection, VIP protection, and investigation techniques into major crimes, such as fraud, rape, murder, gang violence or drug trafficking.
Some trained operatives may go “under cover” to infiltrate criminal organizations such as gangs, cults, organized crime units such as the mafia and even religious organizations. Personnel who go under cover don’t resemble the typical uniformed cop. They assimilate themselves into the community they are trying to infiltrate by wearing the same clothes, frequenting the same bars and restaurants, and engaging in similar activities.
Police officers may physically walk their assigned “beat” or areas in a number of different ways. Some officers may travel around the city in a law enforcement vehicle, sometimes referred to as a “cop car” or a “squad car”. Others may travel on motorcycle or other motorized vehicle such a Segway. In some areas, officers ride horses, which are referred to as “mounted police”. Others may be assigned to a foot beat and travel the area on a bike or on foot.
Law enforcement employees usually wear a variety of equipment to help them perform the required duties. The equipment may include:
- A firearm or TASER / Stun Gun
- A baton or club
- Mace or pepper spray
- Two way radio for communicating with dispatch or other officers
- Handcuffs for restraining suspects
- A bullet proof vest
For more information on the typical equipment, see Police Officer Equipment, accessories and devices used in the line of duty.
In addition to enforcing the law and investigating crimes, cops are often hired by companies and private individuals to work in the private sector, especially to provide security during events. This is due to their skill, expertise and law enforcement experience. For example, officers are often hired to provide security for private events such as parties, conventions or even weddings and funerals. In other situations, they are hired to provide personal protection or bodyguarding services to corporate executives, politicians and celebrities.
Other recommended resources and information:
- Police Ten Codes for deciphering radio communications
- Resources, Jobs, and Equipment – Start your career and find the right gear to get started.
- Associations and Industry Groups – Get connected to other industry experts and start networking today.
- Training Resources – Find out where to get the skills you need to be successful in the field.
Also, learn about Police Drones, the latest aerial surveillance and photography technology used in Law Enforcement and Investigations.