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Police Supervisors

Police supervisors direct and coordinate the activities of police personnel. They ensure police personnel properly and efficiently perform their duties in accordance with procedures, orders and laws. Police supervisors also assign duties and designate posts to station personnel. In addition, those in police supervisory positions need to be able to understand various types of law enforcement procedures and terminology.

Police supervisors employed in large cities typically specialize in departmental assignments and specific duties. Some of the common job titles are patrol police lieutenant, traffic lieutenant, desk officer, investigative division commanding officer, identification and communication supervisor, precinct police captain and precinct police sergeant.


  • Create schedules and delegate work
  • Explain police operations to personnel
  • Notify subordinates of changes in policies and regulations
  • Inform police personnel of implications of new and amended laws
  • Discuss new techniques of police work with staff members
  • Maintain logs in order to account for unit daily and monthly activities
  • Investigate charges of neglect of duty or inefficiency against personnel and take disciplinary action if needed
  • Ensure appropriate preparation and transmittal of reports

Job Characteristics

Police supervisors are directed by a higher ranked commanding officer. They typically work in offices inside police stations. A police supervisor usually works 8 hours a day, 40 hours per week. Since 24-hour police protection for a community is required, police supervisors have shift work and work on weekends and holidays. Overtime is also required during emergencies. Some police supervisors belong to professional organizations and employee organizations.

Those in police supervisory positions should be able to follow instructions and effectively present information. They should be skilled at directing and planning an entire activity and the activities of personnel. They need to be good at dealing with people beyond giving and receiving instructions. Good analytical skills are important for the position. Effectively communicating both orally and in writing is important for the job.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the employment of police officers and detectives will grow 11% between 2006 and 2016 which is about as fast as average for all occupations. The growth of police supervisor positions is correlated to the growth of police officer employment.

Salaries of police supervisors may vary according to rank, years of experience, the employer, community size and location. The median annual earnings in 2008 for first-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives was $75,490.

Police supervisors are typically promoted from the position of police officer and typically need substantial experience and seniority. Advancing to the position of sergeant and lieutenant typically is decided according to the employee's position on a civil service list which is decided by on-the-job performance and written exam scores. In large communities, moving up to the position of Captain is possible.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Police departments typically require a high school diploma and some require an associate or bachelor's degree or at least some college courses for a police supervisor position. Some police departments also have minimum physical requirements. Some states require a license for the occupation.

Classes in law enforcement are helpful for the job. Beneficial courses include criminology, crime prevention, sociology, juvenile delinquency, social work, criminal justice and public relations.


Major Employers

Local governments are the largest employers for the occupation.

Schools for Supervisors Of Police And Detectives are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Supervisors Of Police and Detectives

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Supervisors Of Police and Detectives jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
San Juan-Carolina-Caguas 2,790 $37,340
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 2,170 $86,980
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 1,960 $70,440
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 1,760 $91,750
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 1,310 $106,790
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,220 $110,630
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 1,090 $88,650
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin 1,060 $63,950
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 840 $100,400
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 790 $150,040

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Police Supervisors

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to police supervisors

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Supervisors Of Police and Detectives

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 90,600 97% $75,740
Education 1,970 2% $63,390
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