Career Profile: Police Officer

Patrol

Job Description
Police officers pursue and apprehend individuals who break the law and then issue citations, give warnings, or make arrests. Most police officers patrol their jurisdictions and investigate any suspicious activity.

Uniformed police officers have general law enforcement duties including maintaining regular patrols and responding to calls for service. Much of their time is spent responding to calls and doing paperwork. They may direct traffic at the scene of an accident, investigate a burglary, or give first aid to an accident victim. In large police departments, officers usually are assigned to a specific type of duty. Many urban police agencies are involved in community policing—a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime.

Education Requirements
Law enforcement agencies encourage applicants to take courses or training related to law enforcement subjects after high school. Many entry-level applicants for police jobs have completed some formal postsecondary education, and a significant number are college graduates. Many junior colleges, colleges, and universities offer degree programs in law enforcement, criminal justice, or administration of justice.

Job Outlook
Opportunities in local police departments will be for individuals who meet the psychological, personal, and physical qualifications.

Please see the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the most current salary and job outlook statistics for police officers.

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