Police officer

Last updated
Police officer
South Australia Police officers at a protest.jpg
Police officers in South Australia
Occupation
Activity sectors
Law enforcement, public safety, civil service, public service rescue, protection of private property
Description
Education required
Secondary or tertiary education
Fields of
employment
Public areas
Related jobs
gendarmerie, military police, security guard, bodyguard
German state police officer in Hamburg HH Polizeihauptmeister MZ.jpg
German state police officer in Hamburg
The New York Police Department (NYPD) represents the largest police force in the United States, with an authorized uniformed police officer strength of 38,442 as of 2018. New York Police Department officers.jpg
The New York Police Department (NYPD) represents the largest police force in the United States, with an authorized uniformed police officer strength of 38,442 as of 2018.
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in the force's distinctive dress uniform Mountie-on-Parliament-Hill.jpg
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in the force's distinctive dress uniform
Mounted Tourist-Police officers in Petra, Jordan PetraPolice.jpg
Mounted Tourist-Police officers in Petra, Jordan

A police officer, also known as an officer, policeman, or a policewoman, is a warranted law employee of a police force. In most countries, "police officer" is a generic term not specifying a particular rank. In some, the use of the rank "officer" is legally reserved for military personnel.

Contents

Police officers are generally charged with the apprehension of suspects and the prevention, detection, and reporting of crime, protection and assistance of the general public, and the maintenance of public order. Police officers may be sworn to an oath, and have the power to arrest people and detain them for a limited time, along with other duties and powers. Some officers are trained in special duties, such as counter-terrorism, surveillance, child protection, VIP protection, civil law enforcement, and investigation techniques into major crime including fraud, rape, murder, and drug trafficking. Although many police officers wear a corresponding uniform, some police officers are plain-clothed in order to pass themselves off as civilians. In most countries police officers are given exemptions from certain laws to perform their duties. For example an officer may use force if necessary to arrest or detain a person when it would ordinarily be assault. In some countries, officers can also break road rules to perform their duties. [1]

Etymology

The word "police" comes from the Greek politeia, meaning government, which came to mean its civil administration. The more general term for the function is law enforcement officer or peace officer. A sheriff is typically the top police officer of a county, with that word coming from the person enforcing law over a shire. A person who has been deputized to serve the function of the sheriff is referred to as the deputy.

Police officers are those empowered by government to enforce the laws it creates. In The Federalist collection of articles and essays, James Madison wrote: "If men were angels, no Government would be necessary". These words apply to those who serve government, including police. A common nickname for a police officer is "cop"; derived from the verb sense "to arrest", itself derived from "to grab". Thus, "someone who captures", a "copper", was shortened to just "cop". [2] It may also find its origin in the Latin capere, brought to English via the Old French caper. [3]

Duties and functions

Responsibilities of a police officer are varied, and may differ greatly from within one political context to another. Typical duties relate to keeping the peace, law enforcement, protection of people and property and the investigation of crimes. Officers are expected to respond to a variety of situations that may arise while they are on duty. Rules and guidelines dictate how an officer should behave within the community, and in many contexts, restrictions are placed on what the uniformed officer wears. In some countries, rules and procedures dictate that a police officer is obliged to intervene in a criminal incident, even if they are off-duty. Police officers in nearly all countries retain their lawful powers while off duty. [4]

In the majority of Western legal systems, the major role of the police is to maintain order, keeping the peace through surveillance of the public, and the subsequent reporting and apprehension of suspected violators of the law. They also function to discourage crimes through high-visibility policing, and most police forces have an investigative capability. Police have the legal authority to arrest and detain, usually granted by magistrates. Police officers also respond to emergency calls, along with routine community policing.

Police are often used as an emergency service and may provide a public safety function at large gatherings, as well as in emergencies, disasters, search and rescue situations, and road traffic collisions. To provide a prompt response in emergencies, the police often coordinate their operations with fire and emergency medical services. In some countries, individuals serve jointly as police officers as well as firefighters (creating the role of fire police). In many countries, there is a common emergency service number that allows the police, firefighters, or medical services to be summoned to an emergency. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom have outlined command procedures, for the use in major emergencies or disorder. The Gold Silver Bronze command structure is a system set up to improve communications between ground-based officers and the control room, typically, Bronze Commander would be a senior officer on the ground, coordinating the efforts in the center of the emergency, Silver Commanders would be positioned in an 'Incident Control Room' erected to improve better communications at the scene, and a Gold Commander who would be in the Control Room.

Police are also responsible for reprimanding minor offenders by issuing citations which typically may result in the imposition of fines, particularly for violations of traffic law. Traffic enforcement is often and effectively accomplished by police officers on motorcycles—called motor officers, these officers refer to the motorcycles they ride on duty as simply motors. Police are also trained to assist persons in distress, such as motorists whose car has broken down and people experiencing a medical emergency. Police are typically trained in basic first aid such as CPR.

Some park rangers are commissioned as law enforcement officers and carry out a law-enforcement role within national parks and other back-country wilderness and recreational areas, whereas Military police perform law enforcement functions within the military. [5]

Teenagers that are interested in a career in law enforcement, can join a local police Explorer program or related program to help with a career in law enforcement. [6]

Entry and promotion qualifications

In most countries, candidates for the police force must have completed some formal education. [7] Increasing numbers of people are joining the police force who possess tertiary education [8] and in response to this many police forces have developed a "fast-track" scheme whereby those with university degrees spend two to three years as a Constable before receiving promotion to higher ranks, such as Sergeants or Inspectors. (Officers who work within investigative divisions or plainclothes are not necessarily of a higher rank but merely have different duties.)[ citation needed ] Police officers are also recruited from those with experience in the military or security services. In the United States state laws may codify statewide qualification standards regarding age, education, criminal record, and training but in other places requirements are set by local police agencies. Each local Police agency has different requirements.

Officers of the Polizia Municipale from Piacenza, Italy Pol mun agenti.jpg
Officers of the Polizia Municipale from Piacenza, Italy

Promotion is not automatic and usually requires the candidate to pass some kind of examination, interview board or other selection procedure. Although promotion normally includes an increase in salary, it also brings with it an increase in responsibility and for most, an increase in administrative paperwork. There is no stigma attached to this, as experienced line patrol officers are highly regarded.

Dependent upon each agency, but generally after completing two years of service, officers may apply for specialist positions, such as detective, police dog handler, mounted police officer, motorcycle officer, water police officer, or firearms officer (in countries where police are not routinely armed).

In some countries, including Singapore, police ranks are supplemented through conscription, similar to national service in the military. Qualifications may thus be relaxed or enhanced depending on the target mix of conscripts. Conscripts face tougher physical requirements in areas such as eyesight, but minimum academic qualification requirements are less stringent. Some join as volunteers, again via differing qualification requirements.

Pay

Police officers in Sydney, Australia NSW Police Officers.jpg
Police officers in Sydney, Australia

In some societies, police officers are paid relatively well compared to other occupations; their pay depends on what rank they are within their police force and how many years they have served. [9] In the United States, an average police officer's salary is between $53,561 and $64,581 in 2020. [10] In the London, UK Area for the year 2020 a police officer's average base salary was £36,773 /yr. [11]

Occupational safety and health

There are numerous issues affecting the safety and health of police officers, including line of duty deaths and occupational stress. On August 6, 2019, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced creation of the first U.S. statewide program to support the mental health of police officers. The goal of the program would be to train officers in emotional resiliency and to help destigmatize mental health issues. [12]

Application of force

Individual cases

Almost universally, police officers are authorized the use of force, up to and including deadly force, when acting in a law enforcement capacity. [13] Although most law enforcement agencies follow some variant of the use of force continuum, where officers are only authorized the level of force required to match situational requirements, specific thresholds and responses vary between jurisdictions. [14] While officers are trained to avoid excessive use of force, and may be held legally accountable for infractions, the variability of law enforcement and its dependence on human judgment have made the subject an area of controversy and research. [15] [16]

Accountability

In the performance of their duties, police officers may act unlawfully, either deliberately or as a result of errors in judgment. [17] Police accountability efforts strive to protect citizens and their rights by ensuring legal and effective law enforcement conduct, while affording individual officers the required autonomy, protection, and discretion. As an example, the use of body-worn cameras has been shown to reduce both instances of misconduct and complaints against officers. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Police Law enforcement body

The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by a state, with the aim to enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder. Their lawful powers include arrest and the use of force legitimized by the state via the monopoly on violence. The term is most commonly associated with the police forces of a sovereign state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from the military and other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing. Police forces are usually public sector services, funded through taxes.

Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.

Police dog

A police dog is a dog that is specifically trained to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel. Their duties include: searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and attacking people targeted by the police. Police dogs must remember several verbal cues and hand gestures. The most commonly used breeds are the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Bloodhound, Dutch Shepherd, and the retriever breeds. Recently, the Belgian Malinois has become the dog of choice for police and military work due to their intense drive and focus. Malinois are smaller and more agile than German Shepherd Dogs, and have fewer health issues. However, a well-bred working line German Shepherd Dog is just as successful and robust as a Malinois.

Security Police Officers are persons employed by or for a governmental agency or corporations that own mass private property to provide police and security services to those properties.

Special Police, also known as Special Jurisdiction Law Enforcement; usually describes a police force or unit within a police force whose duties and responsibilities are significantly different from other forces in the same country or from other police in the same force, although there is no consistent international definition. A special constable, in most cases, is not a member of a special police force (SPF); in countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and often elsewhere, a special constable is a voluntary or part-time member of a national or local police force or a person involved in law enforcement who is not a police officer but has some of the powers of a police officer.

Militsiya Police force in USSR and some other countries

Militsiya was the name of the police forces in the Soviet Union and in several Eastern Bloc countries (1945–1992), as well as in the non-aligned SFR Yugoslavia of 1945–1992; the term continues in common and sometimes official usage in some of the individual former Soviet republics such as Belarus, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, as well as in the unrecognised republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria.

Law enforcement in Australia Overview of law enforcement in Australia

Law enforcement in Australia is one of the three major components of the country's justice system, along with courts and corrections. Law enforcement officers are employed by all three levels of government – federal, state/territory, and local.

Federal Protective Service (United States)

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) is the uniformed security police division of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). FPS is "the federal agency charged with protecting and delivering integrated law enforcement and security services to facilities owned or leased by the General Services Administration (GSA)"—over 9,000 buildings—and their occupants.

Inspector is both a police rank and an administrative position, both used in a number of contexts. However, it is not an equivalent rank in each police force.

Auxiliary police Part-time reserve police

Auxiliary police, also called special police, are usually the part-time reserves of a regular police force. They may be armed or unarmed. They may be unpaid volunteers or paid members of the police service with which they are affiliated. In most jurisdictions, auxiliary police officers are empowered to make arrests for crimes that occur in their presence.

Police academy Training institution for new police recruits

A police academy is a training school for police recruits. It is also known as a law enforcement academy, college, or university. It involves a variety of background checks. These include examinations, physical requirements, medical requirements, legal training, driving skills, equipment training, and firearm training for law enforcement recruits. The academy prepares recruits for the law enforcement agency they will be assigned to upon graduation.

Border guard Government service concerned with security of national borders

A border guard of a country is a national security agency that performs border security. Some of the national border guard agencies also perform coast guard and rescue service duties.

Law enforcement in the United States is one of three major components of the criminal justice system of the United States, along with courts and corrections. Although each component operates semi-independently, the three collectively form a chain leading from an investigation of suspected criminal activity to the administration of criminal punishment.

British Columbia Sheriff Service Law enforcement agency for BC courts

The British Columbia Sheriff Service (BCSS) is a provincial law enforcement agency overseen by the Ministry of the Attorney General in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1857, it is the oldest law enforcement agency in the province. Sheriffs are Provincial Peace Officers appointed under the BC Sheriff Act and BC Police Act with authority to enforce all relevant federal and provincial acts including the criminal code throughout British Columbia while in the lawful execution of their duties.

Police accountability involves holding both individual police officers, as well as law enforcement agencies responsible for effectively delivering basic services of crime control and maintaining order, while treating individuals fairly and within the bounds of law. Police are expected to uphold laws, regarding due process, search and seizure, arrests, discrimination, as well as other laws relating to equal employment, sexual harassment, etc. Holding police accountable is important for maintaining the public's "faith in the system". Research has shown that the public prefers independent review of complaints against law enforcement, rather than relying on police departments to conduct internal investigations. There is suggestion that such oversight would improve the public's view on the way in which police officers are held accountable.

Sheriffs in the United States Deputized by a sheriff to perform the same duties as the sheriff

In the United States, a sheriff is an official in a county or independent city responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing the law. Unlike most officials in law enforcement in the United States, sheriffs are usually elected, although some states have laws requiring certain law enforcement qualifications of candidates. Elected sheriffs are accountable directly to the citizens of their county, the constitution of their state, and ultimately the United States Constitution.

Department of Defense police

United States Department of Defense Police are the uniformed civilian police officers of the United States Department of Defense, various branches of the United States Armed Forces, or specific DoD activities. The DoD Police are responsible for law enforcement and security services on DoD owned and leased buildings, facilities, properties and other DoD assets. It is important to note that "Department of Defense Police" is a catch-all phrase that refers to any civilian engaged in police duties for the Department of Defense and its component branches of the US Armed Forces.

State police (United States) Police department of a U.S. state

In the United States, the state police is a police body unique to each U.S. state, having statewide authority to conduct law enforcement activities and criminal investigations. In general, state police officers, known as state troopers, perform functions that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the county sheriff, such as enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstate expressways, overseeing the security of the state capitol complex, protecting the governor, training new officers for local police forces too small to operate an academy and providing technological and scientific services. They support local police and help to coordinate multi-jurisdictional task force activity in serious or complicated cases in those states that grant full police powers statewide.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Police

The Bureau of Indian Affairs Police, Office of Justice Services, also known as BIA Police, is the law enforcement arm of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA's official mission is to "uphold the constitutional sovereignty of the Federally recognized Tribes and preserve peace within Indian country". It provides police, investigative, corrections, technical assistance, and court services across the over 567 registered Indian tribes and reservations, especially those lacking their own police force; additionally, it oversees tribal police organizations. BIA services are provided through the Office of Justice Services Division of Law Enforcement.

Master-at-arms (United States Navy)

The master-at-arms (MA) rating is responsible for law enforcement and force protection in the United States Navy—equivalent to the United States Army Military Police, the United States Marine Corps Military Police, the United States Air Force Security Forces, and the United States Coast Guard's Maritime Law Enforcement Specialist. It is one of the oldest ratings in the United States Navy, having been recognized since the inception of the U.S. Navy.

References

  1. Dulaney, W. Marvin (1996). Black Police in America. Indiana University Press. p. 21. ISBN   0-253-21040-2.
  2. Dalzell, T. (2007). Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang. New York: Routledge. p. 162. ISBN   9780415212595.
  3. Partridge, E. (1972). A Dictionary of Historical Slang . London: Penguin. ISBN   9780140510461.
  4. "Educational Requirements for Police Officers". education-portal.com. 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  5. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/military-police-job-information-974494
  6. https://www.exploring.org/law-enforcement
  7. "Requirements to Become a Police Officer".
  8. "What Is Tertiary Education?".
  9. "Police Pay". Police-information.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  10. "Police Pay". Police Test Study Guide. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  11. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/london-police-officer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IM1035_KO7,21.htm
  12. Joe Atmonavage (August 6, 2019). "37 N.J. officers have killed themselves since 2016. AG hopes new plan will prevent suicides". NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. Retrieved August 6, 2019. 'We cannot fully comprehend the emotional and mental stress that our law enforcement officers suffer on a daily basis,' said Grewal during a press conference at the Newark Police Department to announce the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement. 'We owe it to them to not only combat the stigma associated with seeking help, but also give to them the tools they need to deal with the stress and trauma they endure.' The program is the first of its kind in the country, according to the Attorney General’s office.
  13. "The Use-of-Force Continuum". Library of Congress. Library of Congress. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  14. "The Use-of-Force Continuum". National Institute of Justice. National Institute of Justice. 4 August 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  15. Fryer, Roland G. Jr. (July 2016). "An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force". Harvard University. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  16. Wittie, Mark Curtis (2011). "Police Use of Force" (PDF). West Texas A&M University. West Texas A&M University. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  17. "Use of Force". Bureau of Justice Statistics. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 19 May 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  18. Taylor, E. (2016). "Lights, Camera, Redaction... Police Body-Worn Cameras: Autonomy, Discretion and Accountability". Surveillance & Society. 14: 131. doi: 10.24908/ss.v14i1.6285 .