What is a Police Officer?

What is a police officer? The answer to that question may seem obvious. Almost everyone knows what a police officer is, but not everyone knows about the details of the job. A police officer works to maintain order and protect the lives of citizens by enforcing the law and arresting people who break it. This sounds simple enough, but police work can be incredibly dangerous. Every day officers are injured or killed in the line of duty, and they may also have do deal with upsetting situations such as murders, rape, robberies, animal cruelty and gang violence. An officer may be assigned to patrol a particular neighborhood or highway, but they must be ready at any time to investigate 911 calls from locations in the area. They may also sometimes be assigned to other duties, such as directing traffic, working in a crime laboratory, or working at a desk doing paperwork.

There are many different ranks within the police department, such as sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and the chief of police.

Degrees and Experience Needed to Become a Police Officer

The requirements to become an officer vary by department, but most cities require that a person be at least 21 years of age, a high school graduate, in reasonable physical condition and capable of passing a background check. There is also usually a written test designed to test a potential officer’s analytical thought process, as well as classroom training at a police academy. Once the new recruit as passed through all these stages, he or she will undergo job training alongside a more experienced officer. This training period usually goes on for a few months to a year, or whenever the senior officer decides that the new recruit is ready.

How Much Does a Police Officer Make?

The salary for a police officer can vary greatly depending on where he or she works and the amount of years put into the job. The recorded median wage for a police officer back in 2004 was around $45,000 per year, with sergeants making nearly $5,000 more than that. Police lieutenants make an average of around $56,000 per year. Officers in smaller, lower income communities may make less money than officers working in larger cities.

Future Prospects

The future looks bright for up and coming police officers, although the slowing of the economy in other areas may mean there there will be more competition over these well-paying positions. The projected growth for jobs in the police force is expected to remain at an average level until 2014, and the best place to look for a job will be in the larger cities, where there is more of a demand for officers. Although new technologies may make the job easier or safer for officers, the job of a police officer isn’t expected to change much anytime soon. What is a police officer? The answer to that question will likely be the same twenty years from now as it is today: a hero.