Policemen / Police Officer

Job description & definition

Policemen work in partnership with the communities they serve to maintain law and order, protect members of the public and their property, prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for all citizens. They use a wide range of technology to protect individuals, identify the perpetrators of crime and ensure successful prosecutions against those who break the law.

Key priorities for the thousands of police forces in the United States include maintaining public order through combating organized crime, countering the threat of terrorism, and acting against antisocial behaviour.

Policemen work closely with members of the criminal justice system, social workers, schools, local businesses, health trusts, housing authorities, town planners and community groups to provide advice, education and assistance to those who want to reduce crime or have been affected by crime. 

Policemen play a central role in the law enforcement system. They monitor criminal activity, take part in community patrols, respond to emergency calls, issue tickets, make arrests, investigate crimes and testify in court as needed. While you normally need only a high school diploma to qualify for police academy training, many police officers have two- or four-year degrees in criminal justice. The median annual pay for police and detectives in 2010 was $55,010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Serve and Protect 

A policemen's first order of business is to serve and protect. In fact, the phrase "serve and protect" is common in the credo of many law enforcement agencies. Police officers serve their communities by helping citizens in times of crisis and emergency, such as when a natural disaster hits. To protect citizens on the road, they issue tickets to dangerous and careless drivers. To protect them in their communities, they make arrests that deter illegal and dangerous behavior.


Investigate Crimes 

Policemen and detectives routinely investigate crimes. When someone calls the police department after a crime is committed, officers in the area respond to the call. They take statements from parties involved in the incident as well as any witnesses to get additional information and statements. Officers also gather up any evidence immediately accessible and help section off areas where the crime occurred so forensic scientists can come and do more thorough evidence searches.


Call Response and Emergencies 

When on duty, policemen are on alert for radio calls from precincts. While some calls involve major crimes, many involve minor incidents such as noise complaints or traffic incidents. Policemen are also trained in CPR and emergency response systems and show up to aid injured people.


The following list represents the various class titles of sworn LAPD police officers. For a description of the job duties for each class title, click below. 


The Police Officer 

Police Officers comprise the largest number of sworn officers in the Department. The Police Officer rank is divided into three paygrade advancement ranks: Police Officer I, II and III. A Police Officer I is a probationary officer who automatically advances to Police Officer II upon successful completion of his/her probationary period. A Police Officer may be assigned to a foot beat, a black and white patrol car, bicycle patrol, Mounted Unit, a two-wheel motorcycle or a specialized unit such as S.W.A.T. or K-9 Unit. Normally, when a police recruit graduates from the Police Academy, he/she is assigned to a geographic patrol division within the City and is considered as a probationary officer and placed under the supervision of a higher ranking officer, normally a Police Officer III Field Training Officer. A probationary Police Officer assigned to a patrol unit performs basic duties such as: 


1. Responding to the scene of a crime or an accident 

2. Interviewing suspects, witnesses 

3. Writing crime reports 

4. Responding to radio calls 

5. Monitoring any suspicious activity of ongoing crimes 

6. Coordinating vehicular traffic 

7. Visiting open businesses such as banks, markets, department stores, service stations, and other types to establish a rapport with owners 

9. Booking suspects and evidence and transporting them to the appropriate Police Department facility 

10. Responding to citizens’ and visitors’ questions 

11. Preparing Daily Field Activity Reports 

12. Attending and coordinating neighborhood watch meetings 

13. Performing numerous other activities in support of the community policing philosophy 


A Police Officer assigned to a specialized division or as a Desk Officer performs all of the aforementioned duties in addition to performing duties that are unique to these specialized divisions. For example, a Police Officer may be assigned to Juvenile Narcotics Division to conduct undercover narcotics investigations or patrol the school area to monitor criminal activity and to maintain liaison with the school officials. In addition, a Police Officer may be assigned to a two-wheel motorcycle unit to enforce traffic laws, investigate traffic accidents, cite the violators of traffic laws, appear in the court, search for drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and maintain order in congested areas. A Police Officer may also serve as a helicopter pilot or an observer in Air Support Division and provide assistance to ground units. 

A Police Officer II or III may also serve as a Vice Investigator, Instructor at the Police Academy, Detective Trainee, Legislative Officer, News Media Coordinator, Range Officer, Recruitment Officer, Driver-Security Aide to the Chief of Police and the Mayor of the City, Senior Lead Officer, Unusual Occurrence Planning Officer, or numerous other positions within the Police Department. The opportunities available to a Police Officer within the LAPD are so diverse, they are too numerous to mention on this web page.


The Police Detective 

The class title of a Police Detective within the Police Department is assigned to specialized functions of criminal investigations. At present, there are three Detective ranks within the Police Department: Detective I, II and III. The Detective II and III are supervisory positions and are responsible for training and overseeing the activities of Detectives I and Police Officers. A Detective is often assigned to a specialized division and is responsible for responding to the scenes of crimes, conducting preliminary and follow-up investigations, preparing the required investigative reports, preparing a biopsy of the report, apprehending the suspect, preparing the case for a successful prosecution, and testifying in court. On occasion, a Detective travels to other parts of the country or overseas to extradite suspects wanted in connection with crimes committed in the City of Los Angeles. In this capacity, a Detective maintains liaison with international law enforcement agencies. 

Some of the specialized duties performed by a Detective include: conduct narcotics investigations, perform surveillance and establish and maintain contacts with informants; investigate gang related crimes; respond to and investigate scenes of crimes such as homicide, theft, robbery, auto theft, illegal sex related activities; and, crimes committed by juveniles. In addition, a Detective may perform court liaison functions; act as a Watch Commander; provide electronic equipment expertise to conduct surveillance and polygraph examinations; investigate applicants and businesses who have applied for Police Commission permits to conduct business; investigate child abuse cases; provide expert testimony in court; and, conduct investigations of crimes committed by gangs of foreign origin. 

A Detective III is responsible for the above described duties in addition to serving as a leader in high profile cases of major robbery, fraud and homicide. A Detective III reviews reports prepared by his/her subordinates, informs the commanding officer of the status of the pending investigations, provides technical expertise, trains and supervises newly assigned Detectives and civilian personnel, and performs related administrative duties.


The Police Sergeant 

The class title of Police Sergeant within the Police Department is assigned to geographic patrol divisions, specialized divisions and administrative units of these divisions. The class title of Sergeant is broken down into two ranks: Sergeant I and II, and the Sergeant II rank performs a higher and more complex level of duties. When assigned to a patrol function, the Sergeant may be a Watch Commander or Assistant Watch Commander during his/her tour of duty. In this capacity, the Sergeant prepares daily car plan assignments; prepares and presents roll call training; inspects personnel and equipment for conformity to Department standards; supervises the desk, patrol officers on foot or in vehicles; reviews and approves various types of reports; prepares and investigates personnel complaints; responds to crime scenes at the request of police officers; handles radio calls and dispatches personnel; keeps the supervisors informed of issues of concern to them; trains and supervises probationary officers; and performs related functions. 

Police Sergeants assigned to specialized divisions perform specific duties characteristic of these divisions. A police Sergeant may be assigned to any one of the following specialized divisions: Air Support, Personnel, Commission Investigation, Communications, Public Affairs, Juvenile, Narcotics, Vice, Jail, Traffic, Court Liaison, Community Relations, Training, Legal Affairs, Mounted or K-9 Unit, S.W.A.T. Unit, etc. In addition to performing some or all of the above described duties, a police Sergeant assigned to any one of these specialized divisions provides knowledge, expertise, and experience which are unique to day-to-day operations of these divisions as well as unusual situations which may occur in the course of the law enforcement operations. For example, a police Sergeant assigned to Air Support division may operate a helicopter, perform air surveillance, supervise and train other pilots, and act as a liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration for compliance with FAA rules. A police Sergeant assigned to Mounted or K-9 Unit may be required to possess knowledge and training related to the use of a horse or a dog in law enforcement operations. The qualifications required of a police Sergeant to be assigned to a specialized division are subject to change depending on the changes in the Department’s policies and procedures.


The Police Lieutenant 

The Police Lieutenant rank within the Police Department is assigned as Officer-in-Charge of various law enforcement and administrative functions and is broken down into two ranks: Lieutenant I and II. Lieutenants I are generally assigned as watch commanders or administrative lieutenants at the geographic Area level. The Lieutenant II may assist detective divisions commanding officers or act as Section Officers-in-Charge of various specialized entities throughout the Department. The Lieutenant assigned to geographic patrol and detective divisions is responsible for supervising patrol sergeants, police officers and detectives who carry out day-to-day, routine crime suppression and investigative functions. In this capacity, the Lieutenant is an assistant to the Captain and acts as a Commanding Officer in the Captain’s absence. Specifically, the Lieutenant ensures appropriate and sufficient deployment of officers depending upon crime trends in his/her geographic Area; responds to scenes of serious crimes such as officer-involved shooting, homicide, major robbery and theft; reviews and ensures complete and accurate follow-up investigations; and, keeps the Captain informed of issues of concern within his/her command. In addition, the Lieutenant performs administrative functions such as review of the incoming correspondence and response to Department entities, outside agencies, and citizens; supervisor’s daily activity reports; and, crime and accident reports. The Lieutenant ensures appropriate and timely training of the subordinates; the inspection of personnel, equipment and facilities to ensure compliance with the Department’s policies and procedures; conducts interviews of sworn and civilian personnel; attends community meetings to promote Department’s goals and missions and community safety programs; teaches classes at the Police Academy; and performs other related duties. 

Lieutenants assigned to specialized divisions perform unique duties characteristic of each division such as Narcotics, Organized Crime and Vice, Anti-Terrorist, Juvenile Narcotics, Child Abuse, Air Support and surveillance, D.A.R.E., Burglary/Auto Theft, Financial Crimes, Transit, Labor Relations, Crime Suppression and S.W.A.T. Depending upon the division of assignment, each Lieutenant supervises the activities of his/her subordinates; coordinates specialized training and ensures sufficient stock of tactical supplies and equipment; maintains liaison with appropriate Department entities; acts as a leader at the scene of crime; and, reviews and completes all reports for the approval of a Captain.


The Police Captain 

The Police Captain is assigned within the Police Department to geographic Areas, detective divisions, and specialized divisions. The class title of a Police Captain is divided into three paygrade advancements: Captain I, II and III. Each higher level of a Police Captain assumes a more complex and difficult level of responsibility within his/her assignment. As a Commanding Officer of a patrol or detective division, the Captain is responsible for the following duties: inspecting and overseeing the functions of the patrol officers and detectives to ensure compliance with the Department policies, procedures, regulations and standards; supervising the administrative and support functions of non-sworn personnel; inspecting personnel, facilities, and tactics for safety and/or training needs; maintaining liaison with numerous municipal, government, civic organizations, and private citizens to establish and maintain rapport to facilitate Department’s functions and to promote neighborhood safety and community policing programs. 

In addition to carrying out the aforementioned duties, Captains assigned to specialized divisions such as Narcotics, Organized Crime and Vice, Robbery/Homicide, Juvenile Services, Burglary/Auto Theft, Financial Crimes, Air Support, and Transit are responsible for unique duties characteristic of each division. 

In addition, a Captain performs administrative duties such as reviewing correspondence, budget requests, and activity reports; interviewing and hiring sworn and civilian personnel for their division; acting as a Chief’s Duty Officer (off-hours); teaching classes at the Police Academy; and assuming the responsibilities of a Police Commander in his/her absence.


The Police Commander 

The Police Commander acts as the Assistant Commanding Officer at the four geographic Bureaus and Operations-Headquarters Bureau. They act as commanding officers for Community Affairs, Uniformed Services, Detective Services, Juvenile Services, Criminal Intelligence, Personnel, Training, Internal Affairs, Administrative, and Transit Groups. Each of these Groups are sub-divided into more specialized divisions such as Narcotics, Organized Crime and Vice, Anti-Terrorist, Burglary/Auto Theft, Air Support, Crime Suppression, Labor Relations, and Robbery/Homicide. Each Division is under the command of a Police Captain. Additionally, Commander rank personnel occupy positions as the Ombudsperson, Governmental Liaison, Employee Relations Administrator, and Department Commander; a staff level officer assigned to oversee night-time operations citywide. 

The duties of the Commander are dependent upon his/her assignment to a specific bureau and may include: overseeing and directing the activities of patrol officers within geographic Areas; coordinating detectives’ investigative efforts within the City; and, exercising functional supervision over officers engaged in traffic enforcement functions. In addition, the Commander maintains contact with civic leaders and community groups within their geographic bureaus to promote the goals and missions of the Police Department to encourage neighborhood watch safety programs and to generate input from citizens to establish mutual trust between police officers and the community. Also, the Commander is responsible for ensuring compliance with Department policies and procedures by personnel under his/her supervision; conducting audits of operations; and, making recommendations to higher management for improving productivity and increasing efficiency. Further, the Commander may act as a Chief’s Duty Officer during off-hours or a Deputy Chief in his/her absence and carry out duties specified by the Chief of Police.  Police Commanders are promoted from the rank of a Police Captain.


The Police Deputy Chief 

The Police Deputy Chief is the second highest rank in the Police Department and reports directly to the Chief of Police. The Deputy Chief can be promoted from the rank of Captain or Commander. 

The Deputy Chief is assigned as the commanding officer of major organizational components such as Geographic Operations Bureaus, Detective Bureaus, Human Resources Bureau, Internal Affairs Group, or as the Chief of Staff. In addition to carrying out specific bureau duties, the Deputy Chief may assume the duties of the Chief of Police in his absence and perform related functions in that capacity. 

Specifically, the Deputy Chief oversees and directs the activities of patrol officers assigned within his/her Bureau; the detectives who investigate crimes committed citywide such as, homicide, robbery, auto theft, forgery, criminal conspiracy, and bunco; police officers assigned to traffic enforcement and accident investigation; personnel responsible for all operations of recruitment, promotions, training, deployment, background investigation, and maintenance of personnel records. Also, the Deputy Chief represents the Department at community and business meetings to promote the Department’s missions and goals in order to foster mutual trust between the community and the Department. In addition, the Deputy Chief acts as a Chief of Staff to the Office of the Chief of Police and keeps the Police Chief informed of all operational activities on a day-to-day basis.


The Chief of Police 

The Chief of Police (COP) is the highest-ranking officer in the Police Department. As a General Manager of the Police Department, the COP is responsible for the planning, efficient administration and operation of the Police Department under the authority of the Board of Police Commissioners. In this capacity, the COP directs, plans, and coordinates the enforcement of the penal divisions of the City Charter, the ordinances of the City, and the laws of the state and nation for the purpose of protecting persons and property and for the preservation of the peace of the community. The COP is responsible for testifying before the City Council, the state and national legislative bodies on law enforcement matters of importance to the City of Los Angeles; and, proposing new or amending existing legislation which could have an impact on law enforcement. 

The COP attends the Police Commission meetings to keep that body informed about any issue related to the Department’s operations and to respond to citizens’ complaints or concerns. Also, the COP acts on all matters related to disciplinary issues and recommends awards for exemplary conduct of the Department’s sworn and civilian employees. In addition, the COP makes presentations to private citizens community groups, religious organizations, schools, and the business and industrial community to promote the goals and missions of the Police Department and to solicit their input in making the city a safe place in which to live, visit and conduct business. During a state of emergency such as civil disturbance in the City, the COP assumes a leadership role in planning, coordinating and directing all activities aimed at restoring peace in the City or otherwise returning conditions to normal.





Job description & definition

Also found in: Dictionary / thesaurus, Encyclopedia. 


An official of a Municipal Corporation whose primary duties are to protect and preserve the peace of the community. 

In medieval law, a constable was a high functionary under the French and English kings. The importance and dignity of this position was second only to that of the monarch. The constable led the royal armies and was cognizant of all military matters, exercising both civil and military jurisdiction. It was also his duty to conserve the peace of the nation. 

In English Law, a constable was a public civil officer whose general duty was to maintain the peace within his district, although he was frequently charged with additional obligations. "High," "petty," and "special" constables formerly existed. The police have assumed the functions of constables. 

State constitutions and laws in the United States generally establish prerequisites for holding the office of constable. In most instances, a constable must be a U.S. citizen, a qualified voter, and a resident in the area of his or her jurisdiction. 

The term of office and removal therefrom are usually governed by state constitutions and laws. A basis for removal may reside in neglect of duty. 

A constable-elect is generally required to post a bond as security for faithful performance of the duties and obligations of the office. The bond protects those individuals who might otherwise be harmed by any possible neglect of duty. 

A constable has the status of peace officer, a person designated by public authority to maintain the peace and arrest persons guilty or suspected of crime. The constable must yield to the superior authority of a sheriff, the chief executive and administrative officer of a county, where a conflict exists concerning jurisdiction. 

Service of process—the delivering of a summons which informs a person that he or she is a defendant in a lawsuit—is an important function of a constable. State laws confer the power to serve process. The constable executes the process of magistrates' court and of some other tribunals. The courts do not instruct constables on the manner of serving process. The constable should exercise due diligence to make the service but is not obligated to exert every conceivable effort. 

Attachment—the seizure of a debtor's property pursuant to court order—is another function of a constable. It is the constable's duty to assume custody of and carefully preserve the property to be seized. In most instances, the constable is expected to sell the property and collect and distribute the sale proceeds. 

Miscellaneous duties assigned to constables by local or state law include the custody of juries, attendance at criminal court sessions, and the service of writs—court orders requiring the performance of a specified act or giving authority to have it done. The powers and duties of constables have, however, been replaced by sheriffs in many jurisdictions. 

“CITE” West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved. 



n. a law officer for a particular area such as a rural township, much like a sheriff (who serves a county) and usually elected, who is responsible for such duties as serving summons, complaints, subpenas, and court orders, assisting the local court, as well as "keeping the peace." In England this was an exalted position as law enforcement chief for an extensive area, but in the United States the office of constable is a dying breed, like Justice of the Peace. (See: sheriff) 

“CITE” Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved. 


See also: peace officer 

“CITE” Burton's Legal Thesaurus, 4E. Copyright © 2007 by William C. Burton. Used with permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 


  1. CONSTABLE. An officer, who is generally elected by the people.
    He possess power, virture officii, as a conservator of the peace at common law, and by virtue of various legislative enactments; he. way therefore apprehend a supposed offender without a warrant, as treason, felony, breach of the peace, and for some misdemeanors less than felony, when committed in his view. 1 Hale, 587; 1 East, P. C. 303 8 Serg. & Rawle, 47. He may also arrest a supposed offender upon the information of others but he does so at his peril, unless he can show that a felony has been committed by some person, as well as the reasonableness of the suspicion that the party arrested is guilty. 1 Chit. Cr. L. 27; 6 Binn. R. 316; 2 Hale, 91, 92 1 East, P. C. 301. He has power to call others to his assistance; or he may appoint a deputy to do ministerial acts. 3 Burr. Rep. 1262.
         3. A constable is also a ministerial officer, bound to obey the warrants and precepts of justices, coroners, and sheriffs. Constables are also in some states bound to execute the warrants and process of justices of the peace in civil cases.
         4. In England, they have many officers, with more or less power, who bear the name of constables; as, lord high constable of England, high constable 3 Burr. 1262 head constables, petty constables, constables of castles, constables of the tower, constables of the fees, constable of the exchequer, constable of the staple, &c.
         5. In some of the cities of the United States there are officers who are called high constables, who are the principal police officers where they reside. Vide the various Digests of American Law, h.t.; 1 Chit. Cr. L. 20; 5 Vin. Ab. 427; 2 Phil. Ev. 253 2 Sell. Pr. 70; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Com. Dig. Justices of the Peace, B 79; Id. D 7; Id, Officer, E 2; Wille. Off. Const. 

“CITE” A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.



A civil officer appointed to preserve the public peace, as a SHERIFF or CONSTABLE.

1. An officer of the peace in a town or township, having minor police and judicial functions.
2. Chiefly Brit. POLICE OFFICER.
3. An officer of high rank in medieval monarchies.
4. The keeper or governor of a royal fortress or castle. Constableship,

1. A person who holds a position of rank or authority in the armed services, esp. one holding a commission.
3. A person appointed or elected to some position of responsibility or authority in some organization.
4. A person licensed to take full or partial responsibility for the operation of a ship. 5. (In some honorary orders) a member of any rank except the lowest.
6. Obs. an agent. -v.t.
7. To furnish with officers. 8. To direct, conduct, or manage. officerial adj.

also constabular adj. pertaining to constables or their duties.

2. constant.
3. Also, Const. constitution.
4. constitutional.
5. construction.

Webster's Dictionary Thesaurus

Police n. 1 Call the police!: law-enforcement organization, police force, sheriff=&=&'s office; law-enforcement officers, policemen, troopers, constabulary, Informal cops, gendarmes, men in blue, Slang fuzz.--v. 2 Several watchmen police the factory at night: patrol, guard, protect, go on one's beat; maintain law and order, keep in order, regulate, control. 3 The soldiers were ordered to police the parade ground: clean, clean up, tidy, tidy up, pick up trash from, neat- en, spruce up

Policeman Fem. policewoman n. Ask the policeman where the opera house is: police officer, officer, officer of the law, law-enforcement officer, bluecoat, Informal arm of the law, gendarme, Slang cop, dick, flatfoot; (variously) patrolman, cop on the beat, motorcycle policeman, traffic cop; sheriff, marshal, constable.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to:

Polish Police's Anti-Riot Detachment, filming a gathering. The film could later be presented during a trial as evidence, or used in police training. A water cannon is seen in the background. The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder.[1] Their powers include the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with police services of a state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from military or other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie and military police are military units charged with civil policing.

Law enforcement, however, constitutes only part of policing activity.[2] Policing has included an array of activities in different situations, but the predominant ones are concerned with the preservation of order.[3] In some societies, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, these developed within the context of maintaining the class system and the protection of private property.[4] Some parts of the world may suffer from police corruption. Alternative names for police force include constabulary, gendarmerie, police department, police service, crime prevention, protective services, law enforcement agency, civil guard or civic guard. Members may be referred to as police officers, troopers, sheriffs, constables, rangers, peace officers or civic/civil guards. Police of the Soviet-era Eastern Europe were (or are, in some cases, like in the Russian Federation) called the militsiya. The Irish police are called the Garda S�och�na ("guardians of the peace"); a police officer is called a garda. As police are often in conflict with individuals, slang terms are numerous. Many slang terms for police officers are decades or centuries old with lost etymology. Constabulary may have several definitions:

  • A civil, non-paramilitary (police) force consisting of police officers called constables. This is the usual definition in Britain, in which all county police forces once bore the title (and some still do). See: Law enforcement in the United Kingdom.