Police Officer Job Description & Duties

We've all seen episodes of Cops or 24 on TV where police officers are involved in some kind of high-speed chase or are in pursuit of fleeing suspects armed with loaded guns - and that may lead you to believe that police work is a pure adrenaline rush. However, an ordinary day for a police officer is hardly anything like that. Most cops are involved in very few chases like the ones you would see on TV and in movies, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't enjoy their job or that police work is a boring career. A police officer's job description includes a wide variety of duties and expectations, which helps ensure a dynamic work environment and a high level of job-satisfaction. From busting drug dealers, to controlling riots, or protecting famous politicians (sometimes even celebrities), there is hardly ever a routine day, unless, of course, you get stuck with an office job. New police recruits typically start out as probationary officers for anywhere from 3 months to a couple years, and are paired up with a higher ranking field training officer (FTO). Upon completion of the probationary period, an officer may be assigned to a foot beat, a patrol car, a motorcycle or bicycle patrol, or even a mounted unit, where they are assigned to a specific geographical region within the city.

Find out what police officers do on a daily basis.

Typical Police Officer Job Description:

  • Serve and protect the citizens
  • Attend training seminars on a regular basis
  • Patrol specified areas by foot, motorcycle, or car
  • Interview witnesses and take notes
  • Write traffic citations
  • Act as a first responder to emergencies
  • Assist in riot controls
  • Attend neighborhood watch programs
  • Attend schools to help teach crime prevention
  • Search for missing persons
  • Direct traffic and escort convoys
  • Transport prisoners
  • Protect and escort famous athletes, celebrities and politicians
  • Respond to domestic disturbances, traffic accidents, & emergency situations
  • Watch for law violators/wanted persons and arrest them
  • Conduct initial investigations of crime scenes and assist detectives
  • Give information to pedestrians and motorists
  • Write reports and bulletins
  • Serve warrants & subpoenas
  • Appear in court to testify

A police officer assigned to a specialized division or as a desk officer performs all of the aforementioned jobs in addition to carrying out responsibilities that are unique to their specialized divisions. For example, a police officer may be assigned to hostage negotiation or the Vice team to conduct undercover narcotics investigations while still having to patrol neighborhoods for criminal activity in their assigned beat. Other examples of specialized assignments may include the following: homicide detectives, SWAT team, K-9 handling, gang task force, field training officers, aircraft control, FBI/US Marshalls task force, and more.

Continue Learning: Find out how to effectively prepare for and pass the police oral board interview process.