What Does a Police Officer Do?
It can be a demanding but extremely rewarding job to be a police officer. Meet Sergeant Jeff Krepina with the Parma Heights, Ohio police department. He’s been a police officer for over 20 years.
Krepina is a sergeant with the department so while he does get to go out on patrols, his primary duties are administrative. That means he has to deal with a lot of paperwork and other duties before he can hit the road.
Day-in-the-life of a police officer
As a sergeant, Krepina works 10-hour shifts. He comes in at 6 am and has to review the logs from the night shift and talk to the supervisor in charge of that shift, to see if there is anything he needs to know about. Sometimes they have a prisoner, who needs to make a court appearance. So Sergeant Krepina has to fill out some forms and send them to the municipal court. Prisoners in their jail don’t actually have to go to court the first time, they can appear on video from the jail.
Sergeant Krepina also has to notify the dispatchers with details about the police officers on duty. He has to let them know what hours they are working and what cars they are in. That way dispatchers know who they can send out when they get a call. Krepina also has to handle the police officers’ schedules, answer emails, and deal with any complaints or any other administrative duties that come along. Once those duties are taken care of for the day, then Sgt. Krepina can go out on patrol.
Patrol officer do have the freedom to patrol what they want. If an officer likes to crack down on drunk drivers, he or she can focus on that. If they like to do traffic stops and search for drugs, or crack down on speeders, he or she can focus on those offenses. But as a police officer, you never know what each day will bring and you have to be prepared to respond to any situation. On any given day, you could have no calls to respond to or you could have 15. You just never know.
Education needed to become a police officer
You don’t need necessarily need a college degree to become a police officer. But Sgt. Krepina actually earned a four-year degree in business administration before he became a police officer. He points out that it has been very helpful in his administrative duties as a sergeant. If he didn’t have that education, he would have had to get extra training to handle those duties.
If you do want to become a police officer you will have to attend a police academy. Sergeant Krepina says in Ohio the best is the State Highway Patrol academy. When you’re in the academy you learn mandy different skills and techniques need to be a police officer. You have to learn about the laws of your state. You learn defensive tactics to use in potential fight situations. You learn de-escalation tactics, so you know how to try and calm down a volatile situation. You learn report-writing skills. And you even learn how to testify in court.
Once you are finished with the police academy, you can’t just jump in a police car and start patrolling. You have to go through a probationary period for about four months. You go through additional training like field officer training where you learn how to investigate different things like a car crash, rape cases or domestic cases for example.
Skills needed to become a police officer
Sergeant Krepina says common sense is a great skill to have as a police officer. He says it’s great if you have street smarts as well, if you can tell when someone is lying or up to no good. Krepina says having an analytical mind and being a problem solver are also great skills. One of the most important skills is to be able to communicate and interact with all kinds of people. You also have to be able to adapt and respond to any situation you find yourself in. You could be forced to make a life or death decision in a matter of seconds.
What’s it really like being a police officer?
If you like to work a Monday through Friday, 9-5 job then a career as a police officer isn’t for you. Sergeant Krepina says it’s a very demanding job with no set schedule. You could work a day, night or even overnight shift. You’ll have to work on weekends and holidays. You’ll miss time with your family and friends. You’ll miss out on a lot. But Sgt. Krepina says it’s also an extremely rewarding helping and protecting the people of his community.
If you liked this video, then check out What does a Police Detective Do?
POLICE OFFICER EDUCATION:
Sergeant Krepina has a business administration degree from Baldwin Wallace University
POLICE OFFICER SALARY INFORMATION:
The median salary of a police officer is $49,000 a year according to Payscale.com
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