People who work for the police are called police officers or policemen.
PO article - Powers and duties[change source]
A police officer's job is to protect the public, make sure people obey the law and make people feel safe. Not all police officers wear a uniform and patrol. Some police officers have specialist jobs, such as being a detective, a traffic officer or a dog handler. In some countries, not all police carry guns, so a police officer could choose to become an armed police officer after a lot of experience.
As a part of their job, police officers have rights that a normal person does not have. This might include the power to arrest a person who they think has committed a crime, the power to search a person, the power to stop cars and direct traffic, the power to ask for a person's name and address, the power to give out tickets or fines or the power to make a person come to court. Without these powers the police would not be able to gain any sort of control over society.
The area where police officers can use these powers is called their jurisdiction. If officers are outside of their jurisdiction, another police force with jurisdiction can then use their powers.
Being a police officer can be dangerous. Police officers are sometimes killed or hurt by criminals when they are sent to incidents, so that is why the police have to carry the equipment needed to defend themselves. Police officers have the right to carry weapons, such as a gun or a baton in order to stop crime even if the weapon laws are strict and limited to the general public.
The police deal with;
- Stopping crime and protecting the public. They do this by patrolling on foot in uniform and in police cars. This can stop some forms of criminal behavior.
- Investigating crime. This means that the police find out who did the crime. Some crimes, such as robbery or murder are investigated by detectives.
- To help in emergencies or problems that are not crimes. This may be car accidents, fires, or people who are sick or hurt. The police work with firefighters, ambulances, and rescuers. They might direct traffic, help lost children, or give traffic tickets.
Parts of police departments[change source]
Most police departments have officers in two main groups: a "patrol" group with officers who wear uniforms, and a "detective" group with officers who wear normal clothing.
- Patrol officers travel through their area. They may travel by foot, on bicycle or motorcyle, or in marked cars. The cars have warning lights and sirens that can be used. The sirens make a loud sound. Patrol officers enforce motor vehicle and criminal laws. In some locations patrol officers manage the local jail.
- Detectives work on investigations that are more complex. They try to find fraud, illegal drugs, and sex crimes like prostitution, human trafficking, and rape. Prostitution is not a crime in all countries.
Not all countries use the same words to describe these groups. In the United Kingdom, for example, patrol officers form the "uniform branch", while detectives work within the CID ("Criminal Investigation Department").
Police uniforms, equipment and methods vary depending on the country. In some places, groups of police train for special jobs such as dealing with riots or dealing with highly dangerous criminals.
Police in different countries[change source]
Different countries have different names for their police. In Ireland, they are called the Garda. In Russia, they were called the Militsiyer until 2012; now, they are called the Politsiyer. Other names for police services are sheriff's office, marshal's office or department of public safety. In the same country there can be different types of police officers who have powers in different areas and situations, such as state police, military police and local police.
In many countries, police officers carry guns during their normal duties. In other countries, like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the Republic of Ireland, most police officers do not carry guns.
Officers communicate using radio devices. The radios can be on both the uniform and in the patrol vehicle.
PO article - Equipment[change source]
In different countries, police officers are given different equipment to deal with the crime that is in their country. All police officers are armed with weapons that they can use to defend themselves or other people that need help. Most police officers carry these things:
- a gun or a baton/truncheon to injure or in some cases kill criminals if necessary.
- a canister of CS gas or pepper spray, which blinds a person for a short amount of time
- a set of handcuffs, for restraining a person
- a protection vest, to protect a police officer from knives and guns
- a flashlight, for lighting dark places
- a two-way radio, to call for help, give information to other officers and to get backup.
Police officers have to patrol and respond to emergencies as quickly as possible. Some police officers will walk on foot patrol, but often police officers will patrol in a police car. This is so that they can get to emergencies faster and carry more equipment. Sometimes officers patrol on bicycles, motorbikes or on horses because they have chosen to work in that unit.
Related pages[change source]
- International Statistics on Crime and Justice, eds. S. Harrendorf; M. Heiskanen; S. Malby (Helsinki, European Institute for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 2010), p. 115