What Are the Roles of a Police Officer?

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Police officers enforce the law and maintain civic order, according to the University of North Carolina Department of Public Safety. As part of their duties, police officers detect, investigate and foil crime, protect people and property from criminals, operate police vehicles, use specialized equipment, such as tasers, process relevant documentation, testify in court, and coordinate personnel during emergencies.

To perform their roles effectively, police officers are expected to understand and respect the law. They are also expected to work closely with people in the communities they serve, treat everyone fairly, keep track of the latest trends in policing, and maintain the psychological and physical discipline that effective policing requires. In many jurisdictions, police officers are viewed as role models, and it is not uncommon for officers to be invited to speak in schools and hospitals. Because they may be among the first people to respond to distress calls, police officers are trained in first aid. Wikipedia explains that some police officers are trained to handle specialized crimes such as drug trafficking, poaching, gun running and terrorism. Officers may be required to handle special duties such as witness protection, VIP protection and covert surveillance. Depending on the jurisdiction, police officers may be required to punish minor infractions by issuing citations for traffic violations.