Whenever you see cops around, you can’t help but be alerted by their presence, most especially if they’re heading towards your direction. You automatically think you’re in trouble over something that you are not even aware you have done.
I can’t blame you for feeling agitated or anxious, what with those blinking sirens that make everyone stop in their tracks. After all, these guys are often armed with a security weapon and deployed in different types of location. But, relax, they’re most likely just doing their job. For as long as you’re confident that you didn’t do anything wrong, you should be ok.
Police officers wear different hats in public such as patrolling the highways, roving urban neighborhoods, arresting criminals along the way, among many others. Some even go incognito by wearing civilian clothes given undercover operations or depending on what their situation calls for at the time. These activities increase the confidence of many people who have mobilized themselves by way of a partnership with the local police to help fight crime.
So yes, there are various roles to be performed by the police force, each having a distinct function in the community. There are seven known types of officers out there, some of which you are already familiar with while others might surprise you. Whether you are planning a career in law enforcement or merely curious, you’ll be glad to learn more about them. Let’s get acquainted, shall we?
This type of cop is perhaps what everyone has in mind each time he conjures up an image of a policeman. He works in a particular locale, such as a business district or a residential neighborhood to maintain safety and security. He knows the ins and outs of the area that he might as well double as a tourist guide.
The uniformed officer is one of those who takes your call when you ring the police and patrols the community every so often. He also performs traffic management duties and assists the general public for any inquiry or concern. As such, he will enforce the law by issuing citations or verbal warnings to the violator.
An individual must have at least a high school diploma to qualify as a uniformed officer. He is then required to undergo training in a police academy and pass the tests before he becomes a bonafide cop.
Being a detective catches pretty much everyone’s fancy faster than you can say, Sherlock Holmes. It is not unusual for such type of law enforcement to focus on a particular kind of case or violation based on experience and expertise. As their job is quite sensitive by nature, he is usually in plainclothes and focuses on crime investigation and evidence collection.
During his quest to establish facts, he will conduct interviews with witnesses and pertinent individuals, examine records, and may even join police raids if necessary. He is a relentless pursuer unless the case is considered solved or closed.
If you want to be a detective, you must be a performing uniformed officer first to get the promotion. You will then have subsequent education to become a full-fledged gumshoe.
You surely don’t want to call the attention of this type of officer when you’re on the road. The highway patrol officer is primarily responsible for enforcing laws and regulations for motor vehicles. Make no mistake, but you will not get away with speeding or any traffic infraction, and giving them a chase is a risky business. The motorist, however, may only be given a warning if he’s quite lucky.
In the event of an accident, the state patrol would be the one writing the report and appear in court to testify. Aside from ensuring road safety, a state trooper gets called upon to assist local police in small towns and have other administrative assignments.
This type of police officer is usually a graduate of high school or sometimes required to have an associate’s degree at the very least.
The position of a sheriff is quite exceptional because like a politician, one is elected to it by residents instead of being appointed for the job. That said, he is expected to have extensive experience in law enforcement prior, having had supervisory functions in his field of expertise.
A sheriff in a county can be found running correctional facilities and performing investigative work in other instances. Ultimately, he handles the enforcement of general laws. It is not uncommon for sheriffs who have gone on retirement to run for political office given his popularity among his constituents.
SROs target their crime prevention and safety implementation in school facilities. They serve as the primary security personnel of the school. They work alongside school administrators and class representations in providing a safe environment for students and school employees. Their job is the same as a uniformed police officer but with an additional task of leading information drives on safety and security.
It must be noted, however, that an SRO will enforce criminal laws, and is not in charge of disciplining or punishing erring students.
As the title says it all, the police chief is the department head and could very well be the face of the city. He oversees police operations and leads his uniformed officers. He typically reports directly to the town or city mayor and keeps him posted on the ongoing problem and enforcement issues. As such, it is the mayor who approves the police chief appointment. To become a police chief, you need to have a graduate degree may that be in public administration or criminal justice.
Not to be sneezed at, a dispatcher has a vital role in the local force being the first point of contact when anyone calls the police hotline. He has a high-pressured job given stressful situations, especially during an emergency. He will be in charge of directing messages and coordinating with field units.
Now that you have brushed up if not discovered the different types of police, do you see yourself in that field? Whatever your answer is, you can do additional research to know if you can be a cop someday.
*data per payscale.com and ziprecruiter
If you’re looking for a career in law enforcement, the federal government has some of the best ones out there. While these jobs are incredibly challenging, they do come with competitive salary and benefits packages. Several government branches offer distinct and critical positions that require all kinds of professions.
Arguably the most popular among all federal law enforcement agencies is undoubtedly the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under the leadership of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI has the arduous task of investigating criminal activities on a domestic level, such as financial crimes, kidnapping, terrorist threats, and computer crimes. The FBI has several field offices across the country and the world.
While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, a Juris doctorate, master’s degree, and significant work experience are highly preferred. Accepted applicants are required to undergo training at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. After graduation, the agents are appointed to field offices.
There are various career paths to choose from within the FBI program, such as computer fraud, general law enforcement, law, and financial crime.
The DEA is the federal government branch that administers laws governing all forms of illegal drugs, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and street drugs. While some agents serve as diversion investigators (investigation specialists), the agency also does employ special agents who are skilled in law enforcement. The agency is governed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Technically, you don’t need to have an advanced degree to be hired as a DEA agent, but a master’s degree or Ph.D. can help you stand above the rest. Other qualifications include being a U.S. citizen, and passing a background check and of course, a drug test. You also need to have a valid driver’s license and good vision and hearing.
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a branch of the federal government requires skilled agents to investigate criminal activity linked with drug trafficking, violations of immigration law, money laundering, and human smuggling. These agents carry out administrative, civil, as well as criminal investigations.
ICE agents generally hold a bachelor’s degree, but sufficient work experience may serve as an alternative to educational requirements. Experience in law enforcement or the military, in particular, are highly desired. Those with leadership and management expertise are also preferred.
Apart from protecting the president, this branch of the government also serves to safeguard the nation’s treasury and U.S. currency. In fact, their chief responsibility is actually to protect the U.S currency and thwart imitations.
The United States Secret Service agents are also tasked to reinforce security for visiting diplomats and other high-ranking officials.
Qualified agents undergo training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. They are also required to take specialized training in Washington, D.C.
Apart from special agents, the United States Secret Service also has a uniformed police force who are stationed around Washington D.C, providing security in various installations including the Treasury Building, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and most importantly, the White House.
The police officers also provide security at foreign embassies in D.C. Together with special agents, they travel all over the country and across the world to strengthen presidential and dignitary security.
Just like the special agents, the uniformed officers undergo training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, and a specialized training in Washington, D.C.
Under the authority of the Department of Justice, the ATF is responsible for investigating cases relating to terrorism, arson, organized crime; as well as illegal trafficking of alcohol, explosives, firearms, and tobacco. The agency has three distinct departments: Alcohol and Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
To qualify, you must be 21-36 years old, a U.S. citizen, and possess a valid driver’s license. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma, but those with a bachelor’s degree in criminology or criminal justice are highly preferred.
Their application process requires passing several exams such as the ATF special agent exam, and a medical and physical test. You need to submit a sample of your handwriting, as well. Applicants are also subject to background checks, drug tests, and polygraph tests.
This branch of government is the most veteran among all federal enforcement agencies in the U.S.
The agency serves as the enforcer of the federal court system. There are 94 deputy marshals in total, and they are responsible for witness protection and court security.
They also supervise prisoner transport and detention of suspects awaiting trials. They help local agencies in arresting escaped fugitives. They manage the Federal Witness Protection Program as well.
Deputy marshals undergo training at Glynco, Georgia’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
This branch of the federal government handles cases for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S Department of the Navy. Agents are responsible for investigating major crimes relating to Navy personnel and property, crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as major crimes under the local and federal law.
The United States Border Patrol is tasked at providing security to the country’s borders. The agency partners with the Canadian and Mexican borders, and the Puerto Rico, U.S Virgin Islands, and Florida oceanic regions.
The Border Patrol agents are responsible for handling cases involving illegal entry, tracking any individual who entered the country illegally. They also make efforts to prevent drug smuggling and human trafficking. They also keep terrorists and weapons from entering the country.
Agents are required to train at the U.S border Patrol Academy, New Mexico. It is famous for being arguably the toughest training centers in the U.S. Agents are also required to speak and understand Spanish before being deployed.
The Department of Defense police officers are in charge of reinforcing security in the Pentagon and the U.S Armed Forces. The civilians carry out law enforcement services and are stationed on military installations and checkpoints. They carry out minor criminal investigations, and help specialized investigative units when needed.
These officers may carry out traffic enforcement services and be called for service on base. Their authority is limited to the base or installations under the military branch they are assigned to.