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Patrol Officer Duties and Responsibilities

To accomplish their primary goal of keeping a community safe and enforcing laws, Patrol Officers perform many tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Patrol Officer duties and responsibilities.

Patrol an Area Patrol Officers monitor an assigned area, looking out for suspicious, unauthorized or illegal activity. They may patrol on foot, bicycle, car, or horseback. If they encounter any incidents, they do on-the-scene investigations, aid persons in trouble and render other public services as needed.

Make Arrests Patrol Officers have the authority to issue citations, serve warrants of arrest or arrest persons on misdemeanor and felony charges. They handcuff and search arrested persons and secure their custody. They then must complete necessary reports concerning the alleged crime, the circumstances of arrest and evidence obtained.

Respond to Calls Patrol Officers must be ready at all times to respond to reports of possible crime or emergencies, such as car accidents or robberies. They quickly arrive on scene and work to secure the area, administer emergency first aid and summon necessary assistance.

Enforce Traffic Laws Patrol Officers are responsible for regulating traffic on roads and checking the speed of vehicles using radar, laser and pacing. They issue appropriate warnings, citations and summons to traffic violators, and investigate all traffic accidents. They also provide assistance to motorists in need of aid.

Interact with Community Members Patrol Officers are the public face of the police department to the community, and work to build up good relations. They regularly meet and talk with citizens, providing information, directions and assistance. They may visit local businesses to determine needs for service, and schools to build up trust and provide information to students.


Patrol Officer Skills

A quick-thinker with solid judgment, a successful Patrol Officer maintains composure and decision-making skills in high-stress situations. They are strong communicators who enjoy interacting with and protecting the public. Above all, they are ethical citizens, who place great value in upholding the law. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Patrol Officer candidates with the following skills. Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Patrol Officers with these core skills. If you want to work as a Patrol Officer, focus on the following.
  • Working knowledge of federal, state and city laws, statutes and ordinances
  • Knowledge of modern policing principles
  • Ability to keep accurate records
  • Ability to maintain positive relations with the general public
  • Physical ability to use of equipment and weapons commonly used by law enforcement officers, conduct arrests and provide assistance
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Patrol Officer toolbox and broaden your career options.
  • Previous contract security, military or law enforcement experience
  • Training and certification in the use of firearms, bomb detection, fire fighting, first-aid, CPR, and hazardous material detection and handling
  • Knowledge of Defensive and Arrest Tactics
  • Knowledge of multiple languages

Patrol Officer Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Patrol Officer. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage. On the Web

Cops Alive - A blog with helpful information and strategies to excel in a career as a Patrol Officer.

Police Mag - Read the latest news and developments in the area of law enforcement from this industry magazine.

Cop in the Hood - Insights into the thoughts and day-to-day life of a veteran Baltimore Patrol Officer. On LinkedIn

The Law Enforcement Network - Meet and connect with thousands of others in Law Enforcement professions

Community Policing Network - A forum to discuss best practices, great ideas, and opportunities in community policing. Industry Groups

Discover Policing - Learn what it takes to be a Patrol Officer, and find tons of helpful resources.

National Association of Police Organizations - Find an organization near you and access Police events, seminars and networking opportunities. Patrol Officer Books

Basic Patrol Procedures: A Foundation for the Law Enforcement Student - A basic overview of the principles and procedures involved in patrolling.

Surviving Street Patrol: The Officer's Guide to Safe and Effective Policing - A veteran Patrol Officer shares the best practices for safe and effective policing.

The Police Handbook on Searches, Seizures and Arrests: A Law Enforcement Reference Guide - This handbook guides law enforcement officers in collecting evidence and collaborating with prosecutors without violating the citizens' rights.

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