Police Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

The Police, or a Police Officer, keeps the public safe by investigating and preventing crimes. Their main duties include processing and making criminal arrests, writing detailed reports about various cases and taking witness statements after crimes are committed.


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Police duties and responsibilities

People in Police positions need to be able to work effectively in an often rapidly changing environment. Some of the common duties associated with job descriptions for Police are:

  • Maintain a constant presence in the community through regular patrols to deter crime and provide quick help when needed.
  • Secure crime scenes and protect evidence from tampering or loss.
  • Attend public events as security to help ensure peaceful attendance.
  • Help identify potential crime spots and activities which may result in criminal acts.
  • Remain vigilant regarding potential hazards or problems which could harm the public.
  • Issue citations for traffic and similar violations.
  • Apprehend those suspected of committing crimes.
  • Write daily reports of activities.


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What do Police do?

Police Officers work on law enforcement teams to enforce local, state and federal laws. They’re typically assigned specific areas to patrol to ensure all citizens follow the law. They’ll administer warnings, citations or arrests to people who break these laws and regulations. Police Officers must also quickly respond to emergency calls and drive to the scene to assist other team members in resolving different emergency situations. 

When a crime occurs, the Police are responsible for providing written recordings of various incidents and must interview eyewitnesses, suspects and victims to provide their Supervisors with full details of the cases. Police Officers may be expected to appear and testify in court cases for the arrests or citations they’ve administered.


Police skills and qualifications

The skills and qualifications for becoming a Police Officer include the ability to pass certain physical and mental evaluations. These are used to ensure that candidates are qualified to provide a high degree of public service. Some of the common skills sought in Police candidates include:

  • Good judgment
  • Calm under pressure
  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • No felonies or unpaid traffic violations
  • Not currently under a court injunction or supervision


Police salary expectations

The average salary for a Police Officer is $53,557 per year. Salary can vary depending on geographical location and years of experience. Some common benefits for Police positions include tuition reimbursement, life insurance, disability insurance and a retirement plan.


Police education and training requirements

Police education and training requirements will depend on the exact job role and the level of training required in your organization. The following examples assume that the Police positions to be hired are entry-level and the organization provides access to additional training if necessary. Some of the common requirements seen in such roles are an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or similar field. A bachelor’s degree may be preferred. Basic Law Enforcement Certification course completion and a valid state-issued driver’s license are additional potential requirements.


Police experience requirements

Experience requirements differ for each Police agency, but for entry-level positions, common requirements could include prior military experience or security experience. Some positions may require no experience and would note that the organization will train candidates.


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Frequently asked questions about the Police


Who do the Police report to?

Police Officers typically report to the Police Chief of their precinct. Police Chiefs will provide Police Officers with their daily work duties and patrol locations. If the public has any issues with the Police Officers’ performance, they’ll typically report this to the Police Chief, who will address and resolve the situation. If the Police Officer faces any complex problems while on duty, they’ll usually call in the Police Chief to provide them with guidance and advice on how to fix the issue. 


What settings do Police typically work in?

A Police Officer’s work environment differs depending on the assignment they’ve been given that day. Some of them will spend time at their desks in the precinct, taking notes and filing paperwork regarding certain crimes and cases they’ve recently been involved in. Throughout other parts of the workday, they’ll spend time in their patrol car, monitoring their area, making sure citizens follow the law. 

They may also get called into emergency locations where they may be expected to deescalate certain situations or to arrest criminals on the scene. Depending on the circumstance, Police Officers may spend time regularly on their feet walking, standing or running after criminals. 


What are the different types of Police?

Once a Police Officer graduates from the academy, they’re able to pursue a wide variety of different careers in the Police field. Police and Patrol Officers serve in a more general position, patrolling different areas enforcing laws and responding to emergency calls. 

Criminal Investigators and Detectives collect evidence and conduct interviews to solve complex or high-level crimes. Fish and Game Police monitor various hunting and fishing locations to ensure all citizens are abiding by various hunting, fishing and boating laws. Railroad and Transit Police Officers monitor different transit stations and railroad yards to ensure all passengers, employees and properties are safe from theft, robbery or other types of crimes. 


What makes a good Police Officer?

A great Police Officer must have a valid driver’s license and an impressive driving record to effectively transport their patrol car to and from crimes. They should also have good communication and interpersonal skills to professionally and patiently interact with citizens to make them feel safe and protected. 

Problem solving and critical thinking skills are also great for Police Officers to have since they must regularly make fast and logical decisions. Ideal candidates must have physical strength, stamina and agility to move quickly to catch criminals and to react fast to certain situations.

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