Policer officers are entrusted with protecting the public from dangers in the community, from criminals to traffic accidents to property and domestic disputes to missing persons cases. Police are employed by county, state and city governments and work in rural, urban and suburban environments. In a typical day, a police officer will be dispatched with a partner to patrol his or her assigned area. During the patrol, the police officer may investigate an ongoing case, provide assistance to traffic accidents and direct traffic, get dispatched to answer a 911 call and more. In addition to being out on the streets, police officers are also responsible for a lot of paperwork, including filling out traffic reports and complaints, writing tickets and issuing fines, and preparing for court. Police officers are expected to be able to communicate effectively and work with all kinds of people. They need to be able to be seen as trustworthy, cooperative and helpful officers by the public and those living in the neighborhoods they patrol, and they must be able to work with attorneys, judges, detectives, federal officers, and anyone else involved in an investigation. Police officers often find themselves in unpleasant and/or dangerous situations because of their work and have to deal with potentially violent and uncooperative citizens. This aspect of the job requires that police officers, in addition to their academy training, must be level headed, fair and patient.
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The average salary of a police officer depends on the government agency he or she works for — city, county or state — and the geographic location in which he or she works. The starting salary range for a police officer in Los Angeles is between
$54,475 and $73,142, but a police officer working in a much smaller town will earn less. Police officers are paid based on experience, so the more years that you put in with the department, the more likely you will be promoted to the next pay grade. The average salary for police officers in 2006 was between $35,600 and $59,880. Police officers should also be eligible for government benefits as well as special police officer benefits, like a retirement savings plan, education assistance for children, financial assistance for the officer’s family in the event of his or her death, life insurance, health insurance, paid time off and more.
Police officers must have a high school diploma and need to have passed their academy training program and exam. A higher graduate degree can help an officer get promoted to detective status faster or can give him or her a better chance of securing a law enforcement position with the federal government.