Career in Law Enforcement Police Test Study Guide

Top 5 Duties of a Police Officer!

Oct 7th, 2022
duties of a police officer

Police Officer Duties

If you’re thinking about becoming a police officer, you need to consider the primary and secondary duties of what the career involves. The more you learn about law enforcement – in real life and not through TV or social media – the more informed decision you can make about whether to take the police officer exam.

Today, we discuss the top duties of a police officer – what law enforcement officers handle on a day-to-day basis, as well as what personal challenges you will no doubt face. Working in law enforcement is not easy; it’s not for the faint hearted – and you must be prepared for every eventuality.

Of course, many people have a somewhat naïve attitude about police officer duties. Yes, officers deal with burglaries, drug dealers, and arresting suspects – and everything else we typically associate with law enforcement.

But the role of police officer is far more complicated than that. Often, the sheer scale of the danger that officers face gets overlooked.

#1 Avoiding Conflict of Interest

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. Not always, but often. Inevitably, this means you will encounter 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 often asked how they would deal with a case that involves someone they know: family, friends, or acquaintances. Police officers must always act in favor of the law and not in the favor of someone they know. Of course, officer discretion is always on side but this cannot be overused or abused either.

Law enforcement officers must put the law first, and treat everyone in society as equals.

#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.

Danger can arise in any given circumstance, no matter how safe it may seem to be. This danger can be encountered in situations involving:

  • 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 great power also comes great responsibility.

Police officers cannot apply disproportionately use of force. The force they use must align with the danger 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 can be decided. Of course, each situation must be handled on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the risk to the officer, as well as to members of the public.

The force applied must be:

  • Reasonable
  • Necessary

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 should jettison to one side. It can and does play a much-needed role.

By applying these principles into practice, police officers meet one of their core, fundamental officer 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 shield that allows them to respond to dangers within the community; the ability to protect members of the public who are unable to discharge this level of skill.

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 a wide range of personal risks and hazards. 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.

But ultimately, that is what a career in law enforcement is all about. Discharging your skills to protect life and property; to protect the neighborhood and society; and to do so in a way that is even-handed, fair, and justified.

If you have found this guide to police officer duties helpful, check out our complete online course that prepares you for the needs and demands of the police officer exam. Our leading program has trained tens of thousands of officers throughout the United States.

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