A police officer is a serving member of a police force. Police officers arrest criminals, prevent crime, protect and help the public, and keep public order. Officers have legally authorised powers, which in Britain is called a warrant.
Powers and duties change
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 police 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 other people do 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.
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.
In different countries, police officers are given different equipment to deal with the crime that is in their country. Police officers are armed with weapons that they can use to defend themselves or other people that need help. Most police officers carry some or all of the following items to complete their work:
- 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 perform patrol duties 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 if they are in a unit that does this.