Chief of Police Job Description
Chiefs of police, also known as police chiefs, are top-ranking law enforcement officers who manage and supervise all police department personnel and direct all daily police department operations. City, township, and county governments appoint chiefs of police to work full-time shifts during all hours, including weekends and holidays. Chiefs of police ultimately report to the city manager and usually work within an office inside the police department, but also sometimes investigate crime scenes in the field. Chiefs of police are public figures as well as leaders, and put themselves in danger because they’re tasked with stopping crime as well-known individuals within the community.
Chief of Police Duties and Responsibilities
Chiefs of police perform varied daily job duties based on the size of their department and the number and nature of the crimes occurring within their community. However, in every police department these core tasks are usually the same:
Manage Personnel and Operations
Chiefs of police manage all police officers and detectives in the department, which requires frequent meetings with supervising officers and other management personnel. It also includes hiring and firing department personnel and conducting and supervising training. Additionally, chiefs of police manage all daily operations for the police department, which includes writing reports, reviewing reports submitted by staff members, and issuing instructions regarding current investigations.
Chiefs of police develop new policies and regulations. These policies include arrest procedures, dress codes, use of equipment and vehicles, and other day-to-day operational concerns.
Chiefs of police plan the budget for the entire police department.
Chiefs of police design various community and department programs to prevent crime, make it easier to report crime, and increase officer involvement within the community.
Chiefs of police hold meetings with other law enforcement officers to discuss crime rates, unsolved crimes, behavioral issues within the department, and other pertinent matters.
Speak at Press Conferences
Chiefs of police speak at press conferences regarding high-profile criminal cases and criminal activity within the community.
Make Public Appearances
Chiefs of police make public appearances at community events.
Analyze Crime Data
Chiefs of police look at crime data maps and statistics to find patterns and determine areas where a greater police presence may be required.
Stay Current on Relevant Laws
Chiefs of police stay aware of all city, county, and state laws, and take notice when new laws are introduced or existing laws are changed.
Chiefs of police sometimes lead investigations of particularly high-profile criminal cases. This includes going into the field to investigate crime scenes, examine evidence, and oversee investigative operations.
Maintain Gun Certification
All officers who carry firearms, including the chief of police, must be recertified every single year. This is done at the gun range used by the police department to test and certify all officers.
Chief of Police Skills and Qualifications
Chiefs of police are public servants and leaders who manage daily police department operations, supervise department staff members, and maintain a community presence. Governments appoint chiefs of police who have the following skills:
- Public speaking – chiefs of police use public speaking skills to host meetings and to speak with the media and the community
- Communication skills – chiefs of police write reports and speak with police officers and detectives, which requires verbal and written communication skills
- Budgeting – chiefs of police use math and budgeting best practices to plan budgets and make cuts when necessary
- Computer skills – chiefs of police use software programs to write and read reports and review crime statistics and graphs, tasks that require good computer skills
- Analytical thinking – chiefs of police use analytical skills to look at figures, facts, and maps to determine where crimes are occurring and to design budgets and protocols
Chief of Police Education and Training
Before they’re eligible to be appointed as chief of police, professionals must obtain a bachelor’s degree in police administration, criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related field. Candidates must also achieve multiple years of work experience (usually a minimum of five years) in law enforcement as a commanding officer, such as a commander, lieutenant, or captain. The chief of police must also be a resident of the city, county, and state where the department is located. Also, chiefs of police must pass a physical and psychiatric exam. Testing procedures vary by department. A chief of police must also have a valid driver’s license to travel to various crime scenes and community events.
Because chiefs of police are required to have extensive education and experience, no training is provided. Chiefs of police assume their duties upon appointment.
Chief of Police Salary and Outlook
According to PayScale, chiefs of police earn a median annual salary of $70.97. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that police and detectives earn a median salary of $62,960 annually, or $30.27 hourly. The BLS expects employment in this field to rise 7 percent through 2026. This rate is as fast as the national average.
Chiefs of police are provided with benefit packages that include health, dental, vision, and life insurance. Chiefs of police also receive retirement packages and paid leave. Some governments additionally provide extra benefits, such as tuition assistance and free access to fitness facilities. Chiefs of police may also be awarded with take-home vehicles, pension plans, and access to unions that offer their own benefits.
These books and websites provide news updates, event dates, networking opportunities, and other helpful information for chiefs of police:
National Association of Police Organizations – stay current on news and policy issues, find dates for professional events, and explore information about training seminars at this website for all law enforcement officers
Police Chief 101: Practical Advice for the Law Enforcement Leader – written by a professional with 40 years in law enforcement, this book offers a complete overview of what it’s like to be a chief of police
Fraternal Order of Police – the FOP website provides content for all police officers, including education information, news, and details about upcoming conferences
Police Chief: How to Attain and Succeed in This Critical Position – learn what it takes to be a chief of police with the techniques and strategies in this book, which includes information about hiring officers and leading a police department
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