What Does a Police Officer Do?
Police officers are responsible for maintaining order and enforcing the law in a designated jurisdiction. Their duties include patrolling their assigned areas, responding to emergency calls, investigating crimes, making arrests, and protecting the public. Officers of the law work for law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. Their job is both physically and mentally demanding. It is often necessary for them to work long hours in dangerous conditions.
As police officers frequently interact with the public, they need excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Safety is a priority for police officers, and they must be able to make fast decisions and respond appropriately. An individual must also undergo extensive training and education in order to become a police officer. Training in the police academy includes physical fitness training, firearms training, and classroom instruction on topics such as criminal law and ethics. Furthermore, individuals in this role must pass a background check and meet certain physical and mental health requirements.
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National Average Salary
Police officer salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Police Officer is:
Police Officer Job Descriptions
The first step when hiring a great police officer is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.
Performs professional law enforcement work in the protection of life and property through the enforcement of federal, state, and local laws and ordinances. Assists the public in the prevention and reporting of criminal activity, documentation of evidence, traffic enforcement, and traffic accidents. Accountable to and works under the direction of the Police Chief.
Essential job functions
- Operates a police vehicle to patrol designated areas to preserve law and order, prevent and detect the commission of crimes, enforce criminal and traffic laws, and provide general assistance to the public.
- Responds to calls and complaints of incidents involving traffic accidents, criminal activities or violations, including misdemeanors and felonies, and other accidents or disasters; secures the scene of the incident to restore peace, protect evidence, property and assist injured persons; administers first aid and calls for medical assistance; interviews complainants and witnesses; takes detailed statements from witnesses and suspects; issues summonses if appropriate, completes and prepares detailed reports; serves warrants; makes arrest; testifies as a witness in court proceedings as needed.
- Conducts routine follow-up investigations of assigned cases; interviews victims, witnesses, informants, and other sources of information; conducts stakeouts and surveillance of designated locations; obtains search warrants and makes arrests; searches suspects for weapons and evidence; advises suspects of rights; seizes contraband and stolen property; transports suspects to detention facility; interviews and takes detailed statements from suspects; writes police reports; testifies in court as needed.
- Issues traffic summonses and warnings; parking citations, and vehicle defect correction citations; directs traffic at special events such as parades and sporting events as assigned and at congested intersections as needed; escorts funeral processions and other official escorts as assigned
- Records and processes found property and evidence; operates and uses technical identification equipment to identify items of evidentiary value; completes and prepares reports of property and evidence found.
- Investigates violations of city ordinances; makes contact with violators; explains and interprets ordinances and laws; issues verbal warnings or written citations for violators.
- Demonstrates proficiency in the use and care of firearms; meets minimum requirements set by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission.
- May serve as a field training officer for new police officers; provides supervision and instruction, both hands-on and in the classroom, critiques trainee’s performance, and prepares written daily evaluations of same.
- Performs other related duties as directed or required by the Police Chief.
- Works in conjunction with other workers or independently without direct supervision.
- May be responsible for Special Assignments such as K-9, SRO, etc.
Knowledge, skills, and abilities
- Knowledge of principles, methods, practices, rules, regulations, procedures, and operations of law enforcement.
- Knowledge of federal, state, and city criminal laws and ordinances, and the criminal justice system operations.
- Knowledge of technical police report writing
- Ability to observe and record events accurately and completely, define problems, establish facts and draw valid conclusions.
- Ability to communicate orally and in writing.
- Ability to take detailed statements and prepare technical reports and correspondences.
- Ability to make public contact, interview witnesses, victims and suspects and establish and maintain effective working relationships with officials, employees, and the general public.
- Ability to work under stressful conditions and to react calmly and responsibly in emergency situations.
- Ability and proficiency in the use and care of firearms.
- Ability to work 12-hour shifts with occasional overtime.
Education and experience
- Must possess a high school graduation diploma or an acceptable equivalent diploma.
- Must be 19 years of age, and a citizen of the United States.
- Must not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving perjury or the making of a false claim; must not have received a dishonorable discharge from any of the armed forces of the United States.
- Must pass a physical examination with a drug screen, must pass a psychological evaluation, must demonstrate acceptable physical agility and strength, and must have good moral character. Must successfully complete a background investigation, including a polygraph examination.
- Must meet the requirements of the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. An equivalent combination of education and experience that is determined to be directly related to the foregoing specific requirements may be substituted.
- Must be able to successfully complete all training requirements, periodic in-service training weaponry qualifications, and a one (I) year probationary period.
- Must be able to successfully complete all training requirements including the State required Police Academy curriculum, field training program, periodic in-service training, and weaponry qualifications. (A comparable amount of education, training, or experience may be substituted for the minimum qualifications.)
- Must have three (3) years of acceptable experience as a Police Officer
Licenses, certifications, or registrations
- Must possess a valid Florida Class “E” driver’s license and a good driving record as determined by the City of ABC
- Must possess a current Certificate of Completion from the Police Academy
- Must be certified in Field Training Officer
- Must be certified in Intoxilyzer
- Must be certified in Radar
- Must be certified and registered with the (state) Department of Law Enforcement
Essential physical skills
- Acceptable eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
- Acceptable hearing (with or without a hearing aid)
- Must have the physical ability, strength, and flexibility to perform the job functions in the work environment
- Ability to ambulate independently
- Ability to lift and/or remove heavy objects or persons in the course of rescue activities.
- Ability to overcome the physical resistance of a suspect and to make a forcible arrest.
- Ability to give chase on foot and climb obstacles in the course of law/criminal apprehension activities.
- Ability to withstand working outside in all weather conditions.
- Ability to communicate orally and in writing.
The members of the University of ABC are dedicated to providing the highest quality police services in order to improve community safety, protect life and property, and reduce crime and the fear of crime. To do this, we pledge to develop a partnership with the community, to lead a community commitment to resolve problems, and to improve the quality of life for all our affiliates. Patrolling the campus by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, and vehicle, the University of ABC works diligently with the University community and surrounding agencies to ensure a timely and coordinated law enforcement response.
- Promote public safety by preventing, detecting, and identifying criminal and suspicious activity, issuing summonses, making probable cause arrests and/or incarcerating offenders, and carrying out arrest and search warrants for violations of federal, state, and municipal laws, and traffic offenses.
- Submit criminal cases directly to federal, state, or municipal prosecuting attorneys, or university officials for filing of criminal charges or referrals for violation of university rules/regulations by writing detailed reports, and affidavits for search warrants, as well as preparing and delivering courtroom testimony.
- Collect and preserve evidence by photographing, videotaping, and sketching crime scenes, collecting fluid specimens, hair and fiber samples, fingerprints, and other items of evidentiary value, while maintaining chain of custody requirements.
- Obtain accurate accounts of incidents by conducting interviews of victims, witnesses, complainants, and obtaining statements from suspects.
- Provide for orderly public events by maintaining crowd and traffic control and specialized enforcement at political rallies, demonstrations, concerts, and sporting events, as well as providing money guards and collaborating with other agencies for security for dignitaries.
- Assist the public with non-criminal emergencies such as medical emergencies, fires, hazardous materials accidents, natural disasters, stranded motorists, and missing persons, as well as provide directions and information to the public.
- Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent combination of specialized education or training as described further below.
- Possession of current (state-specific police) certification or ability to obtain within 6 months of hire if certification is from another state.
- One year of patrol law enforcement experience.
- Patrol law enforcement experience from an equivalent-sized agency or larger
- Law enforcement experience from a municipal, state, or county commissioned agency.
- Policing experience such as federal, railroad, private police, military, and correctional facilities law enforcement will not be considered.
- Currently employed as a police officer (or employed as a police officer within the last 6 months).
Education and experience
- Education or training that meets the requirements for a bachelor’s or graduate degree or equivalent specialized experience or combination of both; specific areas of advanced or specialized training include:
- The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act;
- The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA);
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
- State of (xyz) and municipal laws applicable to criminal offenses;
- State and local laws applicable to traffic and liquor offenses;
- Understanding and application of U.S. constitutional law with particular emphasis on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments;
- Federal classifications of controlled substances;
- Identification of drug and alcohol intoxication and impairment;
- Hazardous material identification and response;
- Knowledge and application of the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System;
- Courtroom testimony and evidence handling;
- Victim’s rights;
- Laws applicable to juveniles and at-risk adults.
The ABC police safeguards Congress, Members of Congress, employees, visitors, and Congressional buildings and grounds from crime, disruption, and terrorism. We protect and secure Congress so it can fulfill its constitutional and legislative responsibilities in a safe, secure and open environment.
An ABC police Officer performs a full range of police duties and responsibilities:
- Enforces Federal and District of Columbia laws and regulations, and enforces rules and regulations relating to law enforcement.
- Physically protects the U.S. Capitol complex (buildings and grounds), Members of Congress, visitors, and staff from threats of crime and disruption; preserves law and order; and serves as a deterrent to crime and other violations of laws, rules, and regulations.
- Takes charge of accidents and crime scenes, restricting access to crime scenes; observes, stops, and questions suspicious persons.
- Prepares reports and testifies in court.
- Performs protective services, safeguards Federally-owned buildings and property, and protects government equipment and property.
- Upon successfully completing training and a probationary period, time-in-grade requirements, and all experience requirements, future competitive promotions are available to advance to other duties-a higher rank or an officer assignment within a specialized area.
- Must be a United States citizen.
- Must meet position age requirements.
- Must possess and maintain a valid U.S. driver’s license.
- Must show evidence of responsible driving in the past one (1) year.
- Male applicants must be registered for Selective Service.
- Travel for hiring assessments and training is at applicant’s expense.
- Must successfully complete a full field background investigation.
- Polygraph, medical assessment, criminal, credit, and tax check required.
- Must successfully complete all required training.
- Must successfully complete a probationary period.
Sample Interview Questions
- Are there any protocols that you follow to keep yourself and the public safe while on patrol?
- What steps do you take to de-escalate potentially violent situations when on duty?
- In stressful situations, how do you stay calm under pressure?
- How do you ensure that proper procedures are followed when investigating crimes and making arrests?
- If you saw a fellow police officer committing a crime, what would you do?
- In your jurisdiction, how do you stay up-to-date on laws, regulations, and police procedures?
- How do you build trust and positive relationships with the community you serve through community policing initiatives?
- Could you tell me about a time when you had to make a split-second decision while on duty?
- In what ways do you maintain positive relationships with members of the community and communicate with them?
- What is your experience working with other law enforcement professionals and police officers in a team environment?
- Describe a time when you made a mistake on the job. How did you rectify it?
- How do you prepare yourself to go on duty?