How to find a job in law enforcement
February 28, 2012
The responsibilities of a law enforcement officer are extremely varied and depend on the branch of law enforcement in which you are employed. There are also many different positions within those branches that have different duties and responsibilities.
At the federal level, the responsibilities of a law enforcement officer with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) are focused on enforcing federal laws and investigating federal crimes. As of 2009, the FBI employed 13,412 special agents and 20,420 support professionals, including intelligence analysts, information technology specialists and cyber-crimes specialists. The responsibilities of a law enforcement officer with the FBI includes investigating, prosecuting and preventing crimes of terrorism, intelligence (spying), mail fraud, illegal gambling, sexual exploitation of minors, bank fraud, bank robberies and racketeering. The training to become a law enforcement officer with the FBI is intensive and the competition among candidates is rigorous. Special agents receive over 500 hours of classroom instruction and 1,000 hours of simulated training.
The responsibilities of a law enforcement officer at the local level include the different mandates of patrol officer, detective and supervisory positions, all the way up to the chief of police or sheriff. A patrol officer works in the community either by car, motorcycle, horseback, bicycle, or on foot to enforce the law and respond to emergencies. In addition to responding to crime scenes, auto accidents and other incidents, they have to fill out paperwork, complete reports and appear at court hearings. They also act as community liaisons to promote public safety.
The responsibilities of a law enforcement officer at the detective level include investigating and solving crimes. They generally work out of an office at a local police department. They investigate crime scenes, gather evidence, interview suspects and victims and consult with other law enforcement professionals, such as the District Attorney’s Office. There are currently roughly 890,000 people employed as patrol officers and detectives in the U.S. Of that number, about 79% work at the local level in police and sheriff’s departments and 11% are employed by the state police.
The responsibilities of a law enforcement officer in a supervisory position is to oversee operations in various departments and agencies throughout the U.S. They are tasked with directing investigations, monitoring employee job performance, hiring new employees, assigning cases and ensuring good community relations with their agency and the public.
The responsibilities of a law enforcement officer also include a variety of technical tasks, such as forensics work, cyber investigations and ballistics investigations. These professionals perform an important part of criminal investigations in helping to solve a wide variety of crimes.