Police Patrol Officers identify with the Strong Interest Inventory® Realistic Theme. The men and women who participate in this job family tend to be reliable and rugged. There is also a secondary association with this field with both the Enterprising and Conventional Themes. These aspects connect with these individuals assertive and systematic nature. Individuals that enter this field hold a high regard for the integrity and stress tolerance that is both required and often seen as synonymous with the work style found among Police Patrol Officers. The Strong Interest Inventory is designed specifically to help individuals pursue a career which will be fulfilling for them, by analyzing and assessing their interests in a broad range of areas. Careers in the Realistic Theme Category involve being physically active and using one’s body to achieve a goal. Individuals who score high in this category also enjoy solving specific problems or understanding how and why things work in particular ways. Such individuals generally enjoy working alone or in small groups.
Police Patrol Officers patrol their designated area to regulate traffic, enforce laws, prevent crime, and make arrests of violators. In general, they are responsible for preserving the peace and assuring public safety, as well as responding to emergencies, promoting good community relations, and protecting people and property. They make note of any suspicious activities, and identify, pursue, and arrest suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts, including traffic violations. They take photographs, record interviews, or document crimes, as well as relay information to emergency dispatchers or medical personnel. If they are monitoring traffic conditions, they issue citations or warnings, or reroute traffic to unaffected areas. If they are involved in more criminal activities, they may testify in court or compare behaviors and evidence to determine if a crime has actually been committed. On a more routine level, Police Patrol Officers serve as official escorts, for instance for funeral processions. They inspect public establishments to make sure that they are in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
Police Patrol Officers use many different kinds of tools and technology. Breathalyzers, handcuffs, radar-based surveillance systems, and fingerprint equipment are among the most common, but they also use binoculars, body armor, bulletproof vests, and weapons when confronting suspects. They use medical equipment, such as first aid kits, defibrillators, narcotic test kits, and other basic medical equipment, as well as biohazard suits and protective gloves and safety glasses to protect them from potentially harmful agents. When Patrol Officers move over uneven terrain, they may use all-terrain vehicles, snow scooters or snow mobiles, and jet skis. In extreme situations, they use riot batons, helmets, shields, shot guns, and other weaponry. In addition, Police Patrol Officers document and report their actions and findings. They do this using integrated automated fingerprint identification software (IAFIS), the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), and Spillman Technologies Records Management, as well as computer aided composite drawing software like EyeWitness and The Crime Zone. Map creation software like ESRI ArcVIew are also important, as is Microsoft Office Suite and Email software interfaces. In addition to these technical skills, Police Patrol Officers are required to have a strong background knowledge in public safety, law and government, and psychology, since they work so much with people. They have to deliver quality customer service. They should posses strong negotiating skills in order to deescalate situations smoothly. Furthermore, they need to make difficult decisions quickly in high-stress situations, and have the ability to think critically about situations and notice seemingly small issues that may reveal great insights about crimes. Because they often work with groups, Patrol Officers must understand and obey orders in a timely fashion, and have strong written and oral communication skills in English and in other relevant community languages, especially Spanish. Most Police Officers have a high school diploma, but generally they attend police academies rather than universities for further accreditation.
Police Officers’ salaries can be very competitive. In California, for instance, high-ranked Officers’ salaries can be over $125,000 annually. Even low-ranked Officers’ salaries are well above the national average, at nearly $60,000 per year. In Texas, Police Officers’ salaries are closer to the national average, often averaging closer to $60,000 with the best-paid Officers nearing $80,000. Employment rates are highest in Utah and Kentucky, with expected employment of Patrol Officers projected to rise over 20% before 2024. Most other states are still expected to increase employment up to 15%, with employment rates only expected to fall significantly in New Jersey.
Below are some employment trends for Police Patrol Officers:
- Median Police Officer’s Salary: $27.31/hour; $56,810 (Patrol)
- Employment: 680,000 employees
- Projected growth (2012-2022): Average (5% to 8%)
- Projected job openings (2012-2022): 258,500
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org