The duties of a police or law enforcement officer are focused on the protection of people and property. A police officer is assigned a patrol area, which can be an entire jurisdiction or part of a jurisdiction, and in that patrol area they issue citations, make arrests, respond to calls, enforce the law, and they sometimes are called to testify in court. Police officers frequently make traffic stops and respond to domestic disturbances. Sometimes during the course of these calls, they are required to provide first aid for injuries until the paramedics arrive. For a police officer, time is distributed between writing reports, filling out forms, and doing actual patrols. Many police officers also do immigration work that was once exclusive to Immigration and Naturalization Service officers.
The minimum qualifications to be a police officer will vary from department to department. Some general qualifications are typically that the person be a high school graduate, be at least 21 years old, and have no felony convictions. Misdemeanor convictions are normally handled on a case-by-case basis depending on the jurisdiction and some departments require that candidates have proven to be financially responsible as well. There are also physical and fitness requirements and candidates will need to pass a vision, hearing, and medical exam. Testing is also part of the hiring process. Candidates will have to undergo a drug test, background check, written exam, and psychological evaluation prior to beginning a career.
Every department will have their own individual education requirements. Many police departments throughout the country require that candidates have a bachelor degree in criminal justice or law enforcement. Even if a degree is not a requirement, hiring is a competitive process in many police departments. Having a degree will give you a career advantage over other candidates who do not have the same educational background.
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