A police officer 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. Police officers are also known as law enforcement officers or cops. Below is a list of the most common police officer duties.
Enforce the Law
One of the primary responsibilities of police officers is to enforce the law. Hence, the term “law enforcement”. Enforcing the law involves a number of different activities and comprises the majority of an officer’s time. This includes activities such as patrolling their assigned area and responding to calls related to disturbances. This leads to such activities as mediating disputes, filing reports and arresting individuals.
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.
Conduct Criminal Investigations
Most police officers investigate crimes at a very high level as a part of their patrolling and response calls. Law enforcement detectives investigate crimes more thoroughly by:
- Examining crime scenes, gathering and analyzing evidence
- Interviewing witnesses, interrogating suspects and consulting with experts
- Performing legal research
Law enforcement officer must document their observations and actions performed in the line of duty. In addition, they are required to complete police reports as required by their department. In certain cases, law enforcement officers must testify in court related to cases they are involved with.
Police officers, sheriffs and deputies are often the first people on the scene of accidents and natural disasters. Most police officers receive basic training in administering first aid.
Officers of the law are sworn to an oath and are granted the power to arrest and imprison suspects. Police officers apprehend suspects by responding to complaints and calls for help. If legally necessary, the officer will arrest the individual or individuals. Officer must read the person being arrested their Miranda Rights.
Maintain Knowledge of Procedures, Laws and Ordinances
Maintains knowledge of department policies and procedures. Also, maintains professional and technical knowledge by studying applicable federal, state, and local laws and ordinances; attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; practicing skills; participating in professional societies.
Operate Equipment / Vehicles
Law enforcement employees usually wear a variety of equipment to help them perform the required duties. The equipment may include firearm or TASER / Stun Gun, baton or club, mace or pepper spray, two-way radios, handcuffs, a bullet proof vest, and more. For more information on the typical equipment, see Police Officer Equipment, accessories and devices used in the line of duty.
Private Sector Work
In addition to their regular police officer duties, 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.
Police officers use radios to communicate with their local dispatch unit. In addition, they communicate with other officers, state and local government employees, legal professionals and more. Most departments use Police 10 Codes to streamline radio communication.
Work Under Cover
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.
Some police officer duties may include: 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.
Important traits include: Decision Making, Legal Compliance, Handles Pressure, Deals with Uncertainty, Lifting, Physical Fitness, Judgment, Objectivity, Dependability, Emotional Control, Integrity.
Other recommended resources and information:
- Associations and Industry Groups – Get connected to other industry experts and start networking today.
- Police Drones – The latest aerial surveillance and photography technology used in Law Enforcement and Investigations.
- Resources, Jobs, and Equipment – Start your career and find the right gear to get started.
- Training Resources – Find out where to get the skills you need to be successful in the field.
If you have any questions about these police officer duties, please leave a comment below.