Expand mobile version menu

Police Patrol Officer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Police Patrol Officers Career Video



Patrols assigned areas to enforce laws and ordinances, regulate traffic, control crowds, prevent crime, and arrest violators.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Law Enforcement Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Provides for public safety by maintaining order, responding to emergencies, protecting people and property, enforcing motor vehicle and criminal laws, and promoting good community relations.
  • Monitors, notes, reports, and investigates suspicious persons and situations, safety hazards, and unusual or illegal activity in patrol area.
  • Records facts to prepare reports that document incidents and activities.
  • Identifies, pursues, and arrests suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts.
  • Patrols specific area on foot, horseback, or motorized conveyance, responding promptly to calls for assistance.
  • Reviews facts of incidents to determine if criminal act or statute violations were involved.
  • Renders aid to accidents victims and other persons requiring first aid for physical injuries.
  • Investigates traffic accidents and other accidents to determine causes and to determine if a crime has been committed.
  • Testifies in court to present evidence or act as witness in traffic and criminal cases.
  • Photographs or draws diagrams of crime or accident scenes and interviews principals and eyewitnesses.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Deputy Sheriff -- Responsible for enforcing the law on a county level, and on a city level where there are no city police, and providing security for the county court.
  • K-9 Police Officer -- Handlers and dogs are a vital part of law enforcement efforts including search and rescue, forensic evidence, bomb, and drug operations.
  • Marshal -- Duties include apprehending fugitives, protecting federal courts, selling assets seized by the federal government, transporting federal prisoners, protecting witnesses for federal trials and serving court documents.
  • Mounted Police -- Uses law enforcement and horsemanship skills to ensure public safety.
  • Ranger -- Duties include basic paperwork, educating the public about natural areas and protecting the park and visitors.
  • SWAT Team Member (Special Weapons and Tactics Team Member) -- Specialize in hostage situations, high-risk warrant service operations, search-and-rescue operations, covert and undercover tactical operations and crowd control.
  • Harbor Patrol Police --
  • Highway Patrol Officer --
  • Training Sergeant --