What are the different types of law enforcement officer?

When it comes to the field of police work, there are many different types of law enforcement officer, just as there are many different law enforcement agencies.  When most people think of police jobs, they picture an officer in uniform because they’re the ones who are the most visible to the public.  They can be patrol officers with the local police department, sheriff’s deputies, state police officers, federal marshals or border patrol agents. These officers maintain safety, prevent crime, enforce laws and respond to emergency situations.  A patrol officer is often the first responder to 911 calls, responding to car wrecks, emergency medical situations, break-ins, robberies, assaults and domestic abuse situations. The varied types of a law enforcement officer play a huge role in our communities and are an important part of maintaining a civil society. 

Another type of law enforcement officer occupies a support position throughout many local, state and federal organizations. These officers don’t wear a uniform and aren’t as recognizable as patrol officers.  They generally work out of offices in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.  Non-uniformed officers include detectives who investigate crimes and help to prosecute the criminals who perpetrate them.  The crimes that detectives investigate can be anything from shoplifting to murder or fraud.  In large municipal law enforcement agencies, detective units are separated into different departments such as computer crimes, narcotics, sex crimes and homicide.  This means that the law enforcement officers who work in these units are expected to be experts in their respective specialties. 

Another type of law enforcement officer supports investigations by doing technical work.  These officers help investigators by examining evidence to find clues that lead to solving crimes.  Some of the support positions in law enforcement include ballistic examiners, computer technicians, lab technicians, handwriting analysts and forensics examiners.  You must have a specialized degree in order to qualify to be this type of law enforcement officer. 

If your goal is to do police work, you should thoroughly research the many different jobs available in this field of work and decide which type of law enforcement officer you want to be.  A career in law enforcement gives you an opportunity to make a difference in society and to play a respected role in your community.  Police careers also offer plenty of opportunity for advancement, as well as job security, good pay and benefits.  Once you decide which type of law enforcement officer you want to be, be prepared to meet the challenges that are required to enter a local, state or federal police force.

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