Careers in a Police Department

Uniformed officers and other personnel in a police department work together to keep the public safe from crime. They work at all hours of the day and night solving cases and preventing crime. Working in a police department can be highly rewarding. These are some of the jobs you will find in a police department.

Police Chief

Pasadena police chief speaking at podium
PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 26, 2014: Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez accepts the Public Service Award onstage during the Peace Over Violence 43rd annual Humanitarian Awards. Jason Kempin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The police chief is the top administrator and public face of a police department. All uniformed officers and civilian personnel are in the chief’s line of supervision. The chief holds operational and financial power over the department. Depending on the city’s form of government, the chief may report to the mayor or city manager. More

Police Officer

police officer on motorcycle
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Police officers put their lives on the line every day protecting the public from crime. Officers patrol areas by car, motorcycle, horse or on foot; issue traffic citations; direct traffic for special events, traffic signal malfunctions and traffic accidents; assist other personnel in casework; and write reports. More


two detectives at crime scene
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Police detectives are sworn peace officers who investigate crimes with the goal of handing cases over to prosecutors. Using physical and testimonial evidence, detectives piece together a probable version of events leading to and following the commission of a crime. Like most other jobs in law enforcement, a detective job is highly dangerous at times. More

Crime Scene Investigator

Crime scene investigators
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Crime scene investigators are uniformed officers who identify, collect, process and protect evidence. When they are called to a crime scene, they may see some gruesome sights. They assist detectives in analyzing evidence. As crime scene investigators protect evidence and ensure that a documented chain of custody exists, they reduce the risk that criminal defense attorneys can get a judge to throw out evidence. More

Evidence Technician

police evidence technicians collecting evidence into bag
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Evidence technicians are civilian employees who have expertise in preserving and interpreting evidence. They often work in a lab with scientific tools and techniques. They participate in solving crime without needing to carry a gun or make an arrest. More

Victim Advocate

victim advocate helping with paperwork
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Victim advocates help crime victims cope with the trauma of being victimized and navigate the criminal justice system. Advocates are liaisons between victims and criminal courts. They attend court with victims, help them file paperwork, arrange for necessary services and inform them on what is happening to the convicted criminal. More

School Resource Officer

Police officer talking to school administrator
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School resource officers are police officers assigned to public schools. They investigate reports of criminal activity on and around school grounds. They work with school administrators on developing and implementing crime mitigation strategies. Police departments negotiate arrangements with school districts to provide SROs. In turn, districts cover the salary and benefits departments pay to SROs. 

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