Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Police Officers Do More Than Give Out Tickets

Everyone knows that police officers are the ones who issue them citation and warnings. But police officers do more than sit on the side of the road and wait for you to roll through that stop sign, they also catch and arrest people who break the law and keep communities safe.

Police officers patrol jurisdictions in order to ensure the safety of the people in them, as well as keep track of suspicious activity. They are assigned specific areas to patrol and must familiarize themselves with these areas, so that they can easily notice anything that is out of the usual. While patrolling the area they may identify, pursue, and arrest suspects, try to resolve problems within their area, and enforce traffic laws. But officers don’t spend all of their time in their cars, a large amount of it is actually spent writing reports and keeping up records of the incidents they come across while they are on patrol. It is important that officers maintain thorough and accurate records as they may be needed if they are required to testify in a court of law.

A police officer’s daily activity can also vary according to their specialty, which can be in different fields such as training and firearms instruction, microscopic analysis, or handwriting and fingerprint identification. They can also work in special units like canine corps, horseback, harbor patrol, special weapons and tactics, and bicycle and motorcycle. Since the public requires protection 24/7, officers work shifts, which can occur on nights, weekends, and holidays, and typically add up to 40 hour weeks. Still, a police officer’s work is never done and in most jurisdictions, whether they are on duty or not, they are expected to exercise their authority if needed.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of police and detectives is expected to experience average growth, about 10 percent from 2008 to 2018. To be a police officer one typically must have some sort of college education or training related to law enforcement. College programs in police science, law enforcement, or administration of justice, are often available through junior colleges, colleges, or universities, and many agencies will help pay for their officers to work toward these degrees. Often recruits are required to complete a program through a police academy which typically last from 12 to 14 weeks. These programs usually include instruction in civil rights, constitutional law, accident investigation, and State laws and local ordinances, as well as training in patrol, firearm use, self-defense, first-aid, traffic control, and emergency response.

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