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Police Career Research Paper

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Police officers have played a major role in society by protecting us from crime. Their responsibilities include not only preserving the peace, preventing criminal acts, enforcing the law, investigating crimes, and arresting those who violate the law but also directing traffic, community relations work, and controlling crowds at public events.

Law enforcement officers are a part of our communities to protect and serve us from danger and to apprehend criminals that disobey the law. It is their job to apprehend criminals and respond to calls from the people. Most enforcement officers have to stay in their designated areas, or jurisdiction, and respond to any calls or monitor the area. They are there to catch any suspected criminals, resolve problems within the community, and enforce traffic laws. When they aren’t on patrol, police spend a lot of time filling out reports for each of the calls they were on. The purpose of the reports is basically to record the incidents just in case the police need to bring up the case again. Not all law enforcement officers have the same particular duties however. Their responsibilities and duties all depend on their specific job specialty (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 2011.).

There are many types of law enforcers but the two main types of police are the local and state police. Local police deal with urban policing while the state police deal with mostly highway patrol and safety. The state police are mainly for catching criminals statewide and highway patrol in which they give tickets, or citations, to people who disobey speed limit laws or any other traffic laws in general. State police are also available to direct traffic in the incident of an accident as well as giving first aid and calling for emergency equipment (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 2011).

There are many other positions in the police force other than just being a plain officer. In many cities, officers can have jobs such as police chiefs, precinct sergeants and captains, desk officers, booking officers, police inspectors, identification officers, complaint evaluation supervisors and officers, and crime prevention officers. There are also specialized police officers such as undercover police who work in plain clothing for criminal investigation divisions. There are also internal affairs investigators who are employed to police the police to help prevent corruption. Other specialized police officers include police commanding officers, who act as supervisors in missing persons and fugitive investigations, and officers who investigate and pursue non-payment and fraud fugitives. Also many police departments hire police clerks who perform administrative and community-oriented tasks. There are many other jobs that one can go into the police force for. It all depends on what a person is interested in doing and how well they will be in that area (Recruiting with Emotion and Market Positioning, 2011).

In order for someone to become a police officer, or any type of job in law enforcement, they must meet some requirements. Majority of police departments require that applicants have a high school education and have some type of work-related experience. Some of the subjects that people who want to pursue a career in the police force should take include psychology, sociology, English, law, mathematics, U.S. History and Government, chemistry, and physics. The best chance for advancement into the police department is by getting some post-secondary training as many police departments require a two or four year degree, especially for more specialized areas of work. Other requirements in many large cities and smaller cities are that people are required to pass a written test designed to measure your intelligence and general aptitude for police work (BLS, 2010-11).

Candidates should also enjoy working with people and meeting the public. Because personal characteristics such as honesty, sound judgment, integrity, and a sense of responsibility are especially important in law enforcement, candidates are interviewed by senior officers and their character traits and backgrounds are investigated. “A history of domestic violence may disqualify a candidate. In some agencies, candidates are interviewed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist or given a personality test. Most applicants are subjected to lie detector examinations or drug testing. Some agencies subject sworn personnel to random drug testing as a condition of continuing employment (BLS, 2010-11).”

As you progress towards becoming a police officer, you must obviously go through rigorous training programs. Of these training programs, people must go to a police academy in order to train new officers. In these academies, training is committed to the basics of combat policing such as self-defense, firing range, and field tactics. Police Academies usually take roughly 12 to 14 weeks to train soon-to-be officers on these important basic tactics (BLS, 2010-11).

In some small towns, new officers get their training by working with an experienced officer. Inexperienced officers always are accompanied by veteran officers in order for them to learn. In bigger cities, police departments give classroom instructions in laws, accident investigation, city ordinances, and traffic control. Also they give instruction in the handling of firearms, methods of apprehension and arrest, self-defense tactics, and first-aid techniques. Even when you become an officer, you might still have to be trained in order to use new equipment as technology becomes more advanced. For example, when tasers were first introduced to police departments around the United States, police officers had to be trained to use them properly. They have to be trained to use the devices because they can prove to be just as lethal as a firearm. As part of the training for this device, officers must also be tasered in order to use the device on suspects (Ferguson, 2010).

When considering a job as a police officer or anything related, you must consider the risks that come with the job. You must look at those risks and decide whether or not you want to take them and become an officer or to pick a different career. To become an officer, you run into the risk of getting injured on the job or possibly killed. Other risks include stress and long hours at times. “Uniformed officers, detectives, agents, and inspectors usually are scheduled to work 40-hour weeks, but paid overtime is common. Shift work is necessary because protection must be provided around the clock. Junior officers frequently work weekends, holidays, and nights.

Police officers and detectives are required to work whenever they are needed and may work long hours during investigations. Officers in most jurisdictions, whether on or off duty, are expected to be armed and to exercise their authority when necessary (BLS, 2010-11).” You must also be able to handle seeing someone who has blood on them or is dead. Police officers have to respond to calls about people getting hurt and possibly killed. Police officers must be able to handle those kind of things because it happens more often than not (Ferguson, 2010).

Openings for a job as a police officer may vary at times due to the economy and which cities require them more. Overall opportunities in local police departments will be favorable for individuals who meet the psychological, personal, and physical qualifications. In addition to openings from employment growth, many openings will be created by the need to replace workers who retire and those who leave local agencies for Federal jobs and private-sector security jobs. Jobs in local police departments that offer relatively low salaries, or those in urban communities in which the crime rate is relatively high, may be the easiest to get. Some smaller departments may have fewer opportunities as budgets limit the ability to hire additional officers. Bilingual applicants with military experience or college training in police science will have the best opportunities in local and State departments.

There will be more competition for jobs in Federal and State law enforcement agencies than for jobs in local agencies. Also, bilingual applicants with a bachelor’s degree and several years of law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, will have the best opportunities in Federal agencies. The level of government spending determines the level of employment for police and detectives. The number of job opportunities, therefore, can vary from year to year and from place to place. Layoffs are rare because retirements enable most staffing cuts to be handled through attrition. Trained law enforcement officers who lose their jobs because of budget cuts usually have little difficulty finding jobs with other agencies (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 2011).

In order to become a police officer, one must be able to handle many challenges and must be willing to help the community by protecting citizens and trying to fight crime. People rely on the police to protect them from danger and from crime. A person must be able to have the courage and must be able to take risks in order to protect others. It isn’t an option for them, it’s their duty.


Skinner, Chris.(2010) Recruiting with Emotion and Market Positioning. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol. 79 Issue 7, p20-23, 4p,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Police and Detectives Retrieved February 7, 2012. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos160.htm

Ferguson, Scott, Personal Interview, March 17, 2010.

Schofield, Daniel L FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin ;. Nov 93, Vol. 62 Issue 11, p27, 6p.

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