Police officers, or law enforcement officers, have a demanding job. There’s no doubt about that. It’s one of the most respected jobs in the country, and they put their lives at risk each day to ensure the well being of everyone in their community.
Because of the physical nature of the job, police officers must pass rigorous physicals and physical performance and ability tests. These tests, repeated throughout the career, are to ensure that the officer is healthy and medically able to perform the duties of the job.
Police officers are highly trained professionals. Training is not only provided before acquiring the job in law enforcement, but also regularly throughout the career. Training for a police officer is never over. They perform regular safety drills and are continuously required to learn new procedures. Safety drills are put in place by the department to keep the officer up to date, and to give the officer the practice he or she needs to act quickly and efficiently in the time of a real emergency.
A police officers job is to protect and serve the community. They’re broken up into jurisdictions, and each jurisdiction is responsible for that particular area of the community. They can over lap at times when a situation is too big for one jurisdiction to handle alone. In that case, officers are brought in to help a nearby community.
Enforcing laws and regulations is the main duty of a police officer. There are a number of duties that law enforcement officers are responsible for each day. These include responding to emergency calls, patrolling the streets, neighborhoods, and highways, monitoring large crowd gatherings and special events, issuing tickets, arresting offenders, investigating suspicious activity, keeping records and filling out paper work, detailed reports, and testifying in court. Police officers are also sometimes expected to perform first aid if needed, especially if they are responding to a medical incident as a first responder. Police officers, depending on their rank and specialty, can also be called upon to do detective work.
With all this responsibility and risk, you may be wondering how much do police officers make? The salary of a law enforcement officer depends on a few different things. Rank, number of years in the job, and location. It can also depend on whether an officer is part of a federal, state, or local department. Federal is generally the highest paid, and local is usually the lowest. The salary of police officers though, falls into a range. Yearly income for law enforcement officers can be anywhere from $35,000 to $70,000. The U.S Dept of Labor Statistics puts the median annual salary for a police officer at $57,770, which comes out to be about $27.78 per hour.
The work environment for police officers is always changing. With different emergency calls and situations every day, police officers need to be ready for anything that comes their way. Most of their time is spent in patrol cars, either marked or unmarked. The rest of their time is spent in an office environment. It is also not uncommon to see officers on foot, bikes, or horseback, especially in large cities. Some law enforcement officers are assigned partners while others perform duties on their own. In such situations, back up is always available to police officers who need assistance. In certain units, such as K-9 units, dogs are used to assist officers with drug or bomb calls. They are highly trained intelligent working dogs who use their senses to aid in criminal activity.
Law enforcement agencies work around the clock. 24/7, 365 days a year. They don’t shut down for holidays or for any other reason. Because of this, police officers are expected to work any shift, day or night. While some officers do have set schedules, and work the same shift each day, others, especially new police officers or officers on-call, must work any shift assigned to them.
In order to become a working police officer you will need to have a high school diploma or GED, and pass a rigorous police academy training program that generally takes 12-14 weeks to complete. Other specialized skills and training will also be provided depending on the unit in which you are applying. You will need to possess such skills and traits as problem solving, good judgment, assertiveness, compassion, the ability to multi-task, and show a high level of personal responsibility. While a college degree is not necessarily needed to become a police officer, those who want to advance to a higher rank, must at some point acquire at least an associates degree in criminal justice or a related field. When seeking employment as a law enforcement officer, criminal justice degrees can improve your chances of getting a better position along with higher pay.
Police officers are admired and recognized each year for the contributions they make to society. Special award ceremonies for extraordinary work and dedication, and for those who regularly put their life on the line, are conducted each year. Special days are set aside to honor these folks a couple times throughout the year, and tickets to sports games, concerts, etc, are either discounted or free to police officers and their families.