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Policing in America

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Policing in America

There are many types of law enforcement officers. To better understand each type it is necessary to obtain an understanding of their duties and particular agencies. Law Enforcement officers wear many titles such as police officer, sheriff's deputy and state highway patrol. Each agency is unique and different; yet sharing a common goal to protect and serve. The pathway to becoming a law enforcement officer is paved with education, training, and selecting a branch agency.

All law enforcement officers are required to have Basic Law Enforcement training (BLET). The length of this training ranges from twelve to fourteen weeks depending upon the branch agency. This particular training is required for all entry- level police officers and sheriff's deputies, with certain departments also requiring 1 to 2 years of college. However, state highway patrol is required to attend several months of academy training designed specifically for state troopers. The criteria for admission into the BLET program is the following: "must be 20 years of age or older, hold a high school diploma or GED, meet all minimum standards for employment and certification in criminal justice employment, and obtain sponsorship from an organized law enforcement agency " ( Western Piedmont Community College-Law Enforcement). For admission into certain state highway patrol academies requirements are "an associate's degree or a minimum of 60 credits in police science, law, or other related field from an accredited college" (Echaore-McDavid 3). North Carolina state highway patrol requires successful completion of the Patrol Basic School and Field Training and Evaluation. Other classes such as physical education may be helpful, in addition to participating in sports as this leads to development in stamina, competiveness, and agility.

Police Officers assume many duties, according to "Career Opportunities in Law Enforcement, Security, and Protective Services", "their job is to enforce laws; preserve peace; protect life and property; investigate crime; apprehend lawbreakers; and provide community service." (Echaore-McDavid 2) Each of these duties plays an important role in the life of a police officer. Also just as important as their assigned duties, police officers have to be familiar with the day to day routines of people and businesses that they patrol. It is important for police officers to be seen as much as possible in various ways. Some police officers may patrol by foot, bicycle, and or patrol car. Police officers focus on areas within the town or city limits, which makes this area easily patrolled by bike or foot. "Unlike their peers in police vehicles, Bike patrols Officers have the advantage of being unseen and unheard by criminals" (Echaore-McDavid 44). Patrolling by car is the most common way to enforce the law. Police cars are used "to patrol their beats, to chase suspects, store their gear, to restrain criminals and even as communications links" (How Police Cars Work). Police officers also have administrative duties that are necessary for record keeping and testifying in public courts. This is a large portion of their daily activities and requires well written, verbal and communication skills.

As with all jobs, there are certain situations that must be endured, but not enjoyed. Morganton Department Public Safety Officer Adam Miller, states the most difficult part of his job is responding to fires. "As police officers we have many duties to fulfill, one of those duties is providing back up response to fires. This situation requires changing outfits, roles, and getting to the fire quickly. No matter how hot and sweaty you get, you have to return to your role of police officer" (Miller). Police work can be very dangerous and stressful, "Police officers have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injury and illness" (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition-Police and Detectives). This can lead to job burnout, which has the potential to lead to a high employee turnover in the Police Department. Police officers have the advantage of making big changes in the communities they protect, whether by patrolling the streets or helping to fight a fire. Miller states, "At the end of his shift he feels as though he has made a difference in the community he lives and works".

During training Police officers are required to work rotating shifts that include nights, holidays and weekends. They are also on call twenty four hours each day as needed. This training helps to prepare the officers for the hectic work schedule. To be eligible for promotion, police officers must work a probationary period ranging from six months to three years depending upon the agency. In addition to the required BLET, "all police officers must hold a current Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) certificate" (Echaore-McDavid 3). The current salary range for a police officer is less than $30,070 for an entry level officer.

When a call is made outside the city limits, the sheriff's office is the first to arrive on the scene. Sheriff's deputies usually focus on rural areas within the county. "Deputy Sheriff's investigate suspicious activities, report public hazards, enforce traffic laws, and provide community service" (Echaore-McDavid 13). In addition to those duties, local sheriff's deputies process and serve warrants, subpoena's, and provide routine checks on buildings.

Within the sheriffs' department, deputies may assume many different roles, such as animal control, school resource officers, jailers, criminal investigators, and Sheriff. The animal control unit is primarily responsible for monitoring the stray animal population and euthanizing vicious and unwanted animals. The officer does this by lethal injections or by gas chamber.

The school resource officer is assigned to different schools to help create and maintain a safe, secure schooling for the kids. They also provide advice to the staff and the students as well as school boards. By having a school resource officer in the school system, officers are able to meet with students on a daily basis, learn the people in the community and become familiar with illegal activities before they occur in communities.

The role of the jailer is to provide supervision of the inmates. Jailers also provide transportation of inmates to different jails throughout the state. As a jailer their main responsibility is to keep peace within the jail environment.

Criminal Investigators typically are assigned to work different units such as fraud, criminal, and juvenile. These detectives provide investigation of the crime and provide follow up to the cases. This type of sheriff's deputy



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