Police patrol officers must complete a training program known as the "police academy" before beginning work. A degree is often preferred but not required, and different states and departments tend to have different requirements.
Generally, a person applies to become a police officer and is selected to attend the academy, where they are immediately hired upon completion of the program. A police patrol officer’s job is both mental and physical; they must pass a psychological exam as well as a fitness test. Police officers carry a police-issued gun, baton, mace, handcuffs, and radio, and drive cars owned by the city which employs them. They work both indoors and outdoors depending on the specific task at hand, and must be in good physical shape to pursue a suspect should the need arise. Police officers also do a lot of paperwork and, as such, should be well-written and able to recount details of specific crimes.
Police patrol officers work alongside attorneys, dispatchers, paramedics, firefighters, and detectives, and deal with both criminals and victims. They often work rotating 12-hour shifts, day and night. There is no typical day for an officer; they may write tickets, arrest suspects, interview victims and criminals, compile paperwork, make informative speeches at schools and public events, respond to calls from dispatch, or spend the entire day in the office making calls and compiling leads.
Police or Sheriff's Patrol Officer Tasks
- Execute arrest warrants, locating and taking persons into custody.
- Record daily activities and submit logs and other related reports and paperwork to appropriate authorities.
- Provide for public safety by maintaining order, responding to emergencies, protecting people and property, enforcing motor vehicle and criminal laws, and promoting good community relations.
- Investigate illegal or suspicious activities.
- Identify, pursue, and arrest suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts.