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Career Profile: Police and Sheriff'S Patrol Officers

Maintain order and protect life and property by enforcing local, tribal, state, or federal laws and ordinances. Perform a combination of the following duties: patrol a specific area; direct traffic; issue traffic summonses; investigate accidents; apprehend and arrest suspects, or serve legal processes of courts. Includes police officers working at educational institutions.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 671,200 people employed as police and sheriff's patrol officers in the United States. The median annual salary is $65,500. Entry level employees earn approximately $38,420 per year and senior employees earn approximately $109,040 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Identify, pursue, and arrest suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts.
  • Provide for public safety by maintaining order, responding to emergencies, protecting people and property, enforcing motor vehicle and criminal laws, and promoting good community relations.
  • Record facts to prepare reports that document incidents and activities.
  • Render aid to accident victims and other persons requiring first aid for physical injuries.
  • Investigate illegal or suspicious activities.
  • Review facts of incidents to determine if criminal act or statute violations were involved.
  • Monitor, note, report, and investigate suspicious persons and situations, safety hazards, and unusual or illegal activity in patrol area.
  • Testify in court to present evidence or act as witness in traffic and criminal cases.
  • Drive vehicles or patrol specific areas to detect law violators, issue citations, and make arrests.
  • Monitor traffic to ensure motorists observe traffic regulations and exhibit safe driving procedures.
  • Relay complaint and emergency-request information to appropriate agency dispatchers.
  • Verify that the proper legal charges have been made against law offenders.
  • Photograph or draw diagrams of crime or accident scenes and interview principals and eyewitnesses.
  • Evaluate complaint and emergency-request information to determine response requirements.
  • Execute arrest warrants, locating and taking persons into custody.
  • Patrol specific area on foot, horseback, or motorized conveyance, responding promptly to calls for assistance.
  • Investigate traffic accidents and other accidents to determine causes and to determine if a crime has been committed.
  • Direct traffic flow and reroute traffic in case of emergencies.
  • Notify patrol units to take violators into custody or to provide needed assistance or medical aid.
  • Serve statements of claims, subpoenas, summonses, jury summonses, orders to pay alimony, and other court orders.
  • Question individuals entering secured areas to determine their business, directing and rerouting individuals as necessary.
  • Patrol and guard courthouses, grand jury rooms, or assigned areas to provide security, enforce laws, maintain order, and arrest violators.
  • Transport or escort prisoners and defendants en route to courtrooms, prisons or jails, attorneys' offices, or medical facilities.
  • Inform citizens of community services and recommend options to facilitate longer-term problem resolution.
  • Locate and confiscate real or personal property, as directed by court order.
  • Provide road information to assist motorists.
  • Process prisoners, and prepare and maintain records of prisoner bookings and prisoner status during booking and pre-trial process.
  • Supervise law enforcement staff, such as jail staff, officers, and deputy sheriffs.
  • Place people in protective custody.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
671,200
Annual Openings:
57,600
Increase in Openings by 2030:
7%
Annual Salary Range:
$38,420 - $109,040
Education Requirements:
High school diploma