Exploring Careers in Law Enforcement: Assignments for Police Officers
In the field of policing, there are a wide variety of positions that police officers can hold during their careers. Many factors influence whether an individual police officer will hold one position throughout their career or many different positions. The leading factor influencing a police officer's career is the desire of the officer to achieve the skills necessary to be placed in a new position. Additionally, factors such as time in rank and the size of the police department impact the opportunities available to police officers. Following is an outline of the many positions available within law enforcement.
The most common method of patrol for decades has been the automobile. The patrol vehicle offers mobility and covers a large geographical area or beat. The automobile offers a fast response in emergency situations and can carry important equipment like fire extinguishers, additional ammunition, computers, radar units, and informational manuals. The patrol vehicle is also helpful for pursuing suspects in vehicles and for transporting prisoners.
Foot patrol officers are useful for special events, such as parades and dignitary protection, and for public relations (PR). They are also useful for patrolling shopping malls, beaches, apartment complexes, schools, and areas where a motorized vehicle cannot gain access. Foot patrol officers can function as community organizers and dispute mediators and be important links between social agencies, law enforcement, and members of the community in need of specialized assistance.
Many cities have a traffic division with a team of police officers assigned to monitor traffic. The traffic officer's ultimate goal is to minimize serious and fatal collisions. To achieve this goal, these officers are responsible for the enforcement of traffic laws and for investigating serious automobile accidents. Accident reconstruction is also a common responsibility of the traffic division.
Bicycles have been used by police officers since someone thought they provided a good way to chase down horse-drawn vehicles. Today, bicycles continue to be an effective transportation tool because they offer police officers more speed, mobility, and flexibility than they have on foot. They are useful for patrolling college campuses, parks, beaches, housing areas, and congested downtown areas.
Motorcycles have been traditionally used for traffic enforcement and control. A few cities also use them for escort services for funerals or for parades. The motorcycle has maneuverability and can move through crowds of people or traffic more easily than a conventionally sized vehicle. Police officers often drive in dangerous situations, and motorcycles offer little protection from weather, other traffic, or situations involving crime.
Horse patrol units are often developed because they are excellent PR tools. They also provide important services to law enforcement. The mission of mounted patrols is to provide high visibility patrol to the busiest sections of urban areas. Mounted patrols are also used for crowd control tactics and formation riding and to assist with non-mounted police tactics.
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