What does a Police Officer do?

A police officer enforces the law, tries to prevent crime, and generally looks out for the community’s health and safety. A police officer’s exact job requirements vary greatly depending on the region in which he or she works and the specific position in which the officer is employed. Some are beat cops, for example, who patrol a set route looking for lawbreakers, while others specialize in dog handling, bomb disposal, and other areas of law enforcement.

Many people associate police officers with the issuance of tickets and citations for minor infractions. This job, on the other hand, is far more difficult. By patrolling, providing youth education, and coordinating community efforts such as neighborhood watch associations, police officers work to prevent crime. They also investigate crimes, collecting evidence and arresting people of interest in criminal cases, and they respond to complaints ranging from noise complaints to emergency calls for assistance. Many police officers are called to testify in court at some point in their careers.

Within the field of law enforcement, there are a variety of specialties. Some police officers work as station support staff, answering phones and performing other important clerical duties. Others stay on standin case of bomb threats, hostage situations, or drug busts. Depending on where they work and what they do, police officers use cars, bicycles, horses, boats, and motorcycles in the course of their duties. Some people are trained as canine handlers, and they use their dogs to sniff out dangerous substances.

Active police officers assist with public education and outreach in many communities. They talk to students in schools and network with community organizations that have law enforcement goals. Many communities have Police Activities Leagues and other groups aimed at bringing together law enforcement officers and regular citizens in order to foster positive relationships between officers and the people they serve.

A police officer’s job can be extremely hazardous. Cops on the street have to deal with constantly changing situations and routine calls that can quickly turn bad. They also go after dangerous and desperate criminals who make poor decisions out of desperation. A police officer must be able to assess a situation quickly and make sound decisions that benefit the community, all while using the tools at his or her disposal, which can range from riot gear to ticket books.