Law Enforcement Officers Wanted: Good People for a Thankless Job. (Notable Speeches)

By Henson, Henry P.; Livingston, Kevin L. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, April 2003 | Go to article overview

Law Enforcement Officers Wanted: Good People for a Thankless Job. (Notable Speeches)


Henson, Henry P., Livingston, Kevin L., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


Police officers work in situations that most people never experience. They provide 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week protection for their communities. They may work all night, then wait in court all day. Or, they may work all night, when most people sleep, then come home to their families getting ready to start their day. Or, they may work all night, trying to stay awake when things are calm, yet be alert to suddenly respond to a robbery or homicide and handle it properly. Or, they may work all night, aware of the resulting fatigue and poor health that comes from unnatural sleep patterns. Or, worst of all, they may work all night knowing that their families never may see them alive again. Oh, yes, many people work a night shift, but do they face the same situations as police officers?

At times, an officer may be physically tired from trying to subdue a person who will not submit to arrest, from chasing a suspect on foot, from swimming in a cold polluted river to rescue citizens from drowning after their car crashed, from leaning over a ledge on a building high above the ground holding onto a person who was trying to jump off, or from any number of other physical situations that might occur and which most people never experience. These represent only some of the situations that police officers find themselves in at any time. There are many others. How about sitting down to eat lunch, but immediately having to leave it to respond to an urgent call? How about working and not knowing what danger may occur on the next call? How about getting shot at, seeing the bright glint of a knife blade in a subject's hand, being attacked by a crazed drug addict, or facing an attacker who is mentally ill? And, what about that' "loose nut" behind the steering wheel of a car? Who's going to stop him? If you'r e a police officer, it's YOU! You who joined the police department because you cared about other people. You who went through 28 weeks of extensive training--8 hours a day, 40 hours a week--involving the knowledge of criminal laws, ethics, firearms training, defensive tactics, and physical training, 7 long months of training. You who got on-the-job training by working with an experienced officer for 2 or 3 months or until your supervisors believed that you were capable of working alone. You who faced probation for at least a year from the time you were sworn in as a police officer. You who, through it all, prided yourself on becoming the best officer that you could and to always perform your job in the proper manner.

Some citizens understand what the police officer has to contend with. Most, however, only have a general idea of what a police officer does, but no idea of the details of the job or of what it takes to become a "cop." As a police officer, you need a thorough knowledge of rules and procedures concerning the power of arrest, search and seizure, probable cause, and the use of force. You must know the proper procedures for transporting prisoners; be aware of any safety concerns to yourself and others; be able to detect potential evidence at a crime scene; know the proper procedures for collecting and preserving that evidence; have the ability to write clear, concise, and detailed reports; be able to follow correct radio-transmitting procedures; and be alert to all radio transmissions. …

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