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What does a Police Officer do?

Learn all about Police Officer duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Police Officer.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

Police officers are responsible for maintaining law and order. They patrol their beats, respond to calls for service, and investigate crimes. They also make arrests, issue citations, and give warnings.

Police Officer job duties include:

  • Enforcing laws and keeping the peace
  • Protecting life and property
  • Investigating crimes
  • Arresting criminals
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Writing reports
  • Testifying in court
  • Providing community service
  • Maintaining order during riots or civil unrest
  • Working with other law enforcement agencies

Police Officer Job Requirements

Police officers must have a high school diploma or equivalent, although many departments require some college coursework or a college degree. Applicants must also successfully complete a police academy training program and a field training program. Some states require police officers to complete continuing education credits in order to maintain their certification. Many police departments also require officers to have several years of experience in law enforcement before being eligible for promotion to supervisory positions.

Police Officer Skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Writing
  • Report writing
  • Note taking
  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Organizational skills
  • Time management

Related: Top Police Officer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Police Officer

There are many steps to becoming a police officer. The most important step is to have a strong desire to help others and keep them safe. Other steps include:

1. Meet the minimum requirements. In order to become a police officer, you must be a U.S. citizen, have a clean criminal record, and have a high school diploma or GED. You must also be at least 21 years old.

2. Complete an application and undergo a background check. Once you have met the minimum requirements, you can complete an application with your local police department or state troopers. Your application will then undergo a background check.

3. Attend police academy training. If your application is accepted and your background check comes back clean, you will be invited to attend police academy training. Police academy training typically lasts between 6-12 weeks and covers topics such as law, firearms, first aid, and self-defense.

4. Hit the streets! After you have successfully completed police academy training, you will be assigned to a precinct where you will begin your career as a police officer!

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