Top 5 Duties of a Police Officer!January 8th, 2020
Thinking of training to become a police officer? If you’re thinking about taking the police test, it might be worth considering what the job entails, in detail, to see if it’s really the most optimum career choice for you.
Here, we discuss the top duties of a police officer – what law enforcement officers do on a day-to-day basis, as well as what personal challenges you are expected to handle. It’s not an easy job, and you must be prepared for every eventuality.
Of course, many people have a somewhat simplistic attitude toward police officers. Yes, officers deal with burglaries, drug dealers, and arresting suspects – but the job is far more complicated than that. In fact, the sheer scale of the dangers that officers face often goes overlooked.
Let’s get started.
#1 Knowing the Job Description
If anything, one of the core duties of a police officer is to at least know what’s expected of you. There are high standards to adhere to, and there are significant challenges to overcome.
One of the most overlooked is conflict of interest. Most law enforcement officers work within the neighborhood in which they were brought up. Inevitably, this means encountering family, friends, and acquaintances along the way. It can even involve dealing with officers and staff within your own police department.
Knowing how to handle conflict-of-interest situations is essential. In fact, during the police interview exam, candidates are routinely asked questions on how they would handle a case scenario. You need to know how to handle these cases. Failure to do so may see your application thrown into the trash.
#2 Protection of People and Property
One of the most fundamental duties of a police officer is to protect people and their property.
Sounds simple, right?
In practice, it turns out to be a highly challenging and dangerous career. Officers never quite know what’s around the corner, nor how dangerous a potential suspect may be. There are always risks, more than can be imagined.
Nor does it matter what duty the officer is catering to. These include:
- Dealing with emergencies
- Deliverance of warrants
- Traffic control
- Patrolling the local community
- Arresting suspects
- Writing citations
Unexpected risks arise with each of these basic officer duties.
There are some benign duties, too. For example, it’s not uncommon for officers to partake in educational outreach with local schools – educating students on what they do, as well as educating students and encouraging them to stay on the right side of the law.
#3 Managing Proportionate Use of Force
With these dangers also comes responsibility.
Police officers cannot disproportionately use force. The force they use must be in alignment with the dangers of the situation at hand. Of course, this includes the use of deadly force where needed.
The force continuum is one such way in which the correct level of force may be established. Of course, each situation must be handled on its own merits, and in accordance with the risks the officer, as well as members of the public, face.
The force applied must be:
If these two criteria are not correctly applied, the law enforcement officer may find himself in breach of his duties.
#4 Meeting Ethical Obligations
One of the most overlooked police officer duties is the need to meet ethical and moral obligations.
What does this involve?
It means that officers must:
- Not discriminate against any member of the community based on personal prejudice – whether it be on religious, sexual, ethnic or other minority grounds.
- That they apply the law even-handedly to all citizens of their department.
- Avoiding conflict-of-interest (see above) and other means of corruption.
- Applying the police code to police officers in the same way as the public.
- To apply due care and consideration to the circumstances of each case and not to unfairly treat members of the public. Compassion is not something that police officers jettison to one side. It can and should play a serious role.
By applying these principles into practice, police officers meet one of their core and most serious duties.
#5 Handling Pressure and Hazards
Passing the police officer exam is just the first step. After that, officers face the real-life consequences of their career decision.
It’s often a highly pressurized environment that carries significant daily risks and health hazards. Police officers have a duty to be prepared for these risks. Officers are expected to have a bulletproof mental constitution that allows them to respond to dangers within the community; the ability to protect members of the public who are unable to discharge this duty.
There are certain skills that come alongside this. These include:
- The ability to work within a team
- Having strong judgment, and acting on it
- Strong communication and the ability to multi-task
- Physical fitness level to meet these standards
- The ability to lead from the front in dangerous circumstances
This is quite a mosaic of skills, all of which must be tailored to meet the risks and hazards we have hitherto described. It remains one of the most fundamental duties of a police officer; to meet these hazards head-on, with a strong mental constitution that seeks to protect the public and arrest the suspects involved.
It’s not easy, but they are trained to precisely discharge this necessary duty.
Check back to our police test blog soon for more great content on law enforcement officers, their career, and how you can pass the police test and train to become a police officer in the United States.