Police officer supervisors perform a wide range of duties while also helping to protect and defend people in their communities. They deal with numerous sensitive issues, including crime scenes and investigations that could land people behind bars.
Imagine waking up every day and not knowing what you might encounter, from a criminal on the run to a robbery or an act of terrorism. Police supervisors serve the public no matter the circumstance, yet they also take on the responsibility of supervising other police officers in their charge.
A Day in the Life of a Police Officer Supervisor
Police officer supervisors may work in many different environments, from a local police department to a larger county or state department. Regardless of where they work, however, their main jobs are supervising and coordinating the investigation of criminal cases, offering guidance and expertise to investigators, and ensuring all procedures are followed per department guidelines.
The average day of a police officer supervisor can vary a lot, but even though police officer supervisors may not know exactly what to expect, the job duties they might perform include:
- patrolling in a police car
- enforcing laws
- responding to emergency calls
- obtaining warrants
- arresting suspects
- writing reports
- testifying against criminals in court
- supervising and coordinating the investigation of criminal cases
- explaining police operations to subordinates to assist them in performing their job duties
- training staff on workplace procedures
- investigating and resolving personnel problems within an organization
- informing personnel on changes in workplace policies
- maintaining operational records
Generally speaking, police officer supervisors and the police they oversee work as a team with a single goal in mind: protecting the individuals and families in their state or local community. Police officer supervisors take their jobs seriously because they have to. Each day they protect the public and every day they put their own lives at risk.
Important Characteristics for Police Officer Supervisors
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officer supervisors need to have good communication skills. Because they speak with people regularly, they need to be able to communicate and share information.
Empathy for others and good judgment are important characteristics for police officer supervisors. In addition, physical stamina and strength are necessary, as is the ability to perceive or read a situation clearly. Lastly, police officer supervisors need strong leadership skills because they are highly visible members of their community and they oversee the general duties of other professionals under their supervision.
Typical Steps for Becoming a Police Supervisor
To become a police officer supervisor, you need to complete varying educational requirements and participate in police department training and on-the-job training. Here are the steps to get started:
1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent, then find out if your local police department requires candidates to have earned college credits or completed a degree program. The Bureau of Labor Statistis reports that many local police departments require only a diploma or equivalent to enroll in police training. However, federal agencies and some specific police departments may require a college degree or college courses.
2. Take courses related to law enforcement, if required or desired. It can be advantageous to take classes in criminal justice or a related field before you complete police officer training or after. Degree programs are likely to be titled:
- Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
- Bachelor of Science in Corrections
- Crime Scene Technician Certificate
- Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Master of Science in Criminal Justice
3. Enroll in your local police training academy. Police academy training programs are designed to provide recruits with instruction in a range of laws, from local ordinances to state and federal laws, plus cover detailed information about constitutional protections and civil rights. The topic of police ethics is part of the program. And because police officers are typically "first responders," academy programs include training on self-defense, firearm use, first aid and emergency response. Recruits can also get supervised training for future responsibilities such as patrol and traffic control.
4. Complete on-the-job training. After you complete a stint in your local police academy, you can apply to become an official police officer trainee. This position focuses on additional on-the-job training which can last from several months up to more than a year. You may also have to complete a probationary period.
5. Work your way into a supervisory position. Most police officers must first complete a specified period of patrol duties before they are able to move into a more specialized role. Over time, offers can work their way into police supervisor jobs. These promotions are typically based on the results of a written examination and the quality of their on-the-job performance.
- Criminal Justice Degree and Certificate Programs, https://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/degree-programs/criminal-justice/
- First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives, ONET Online, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-1012.00
- Police and Detectives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-24 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm
- Careers at the Oakland Police Department, http://www2.oaklandnet.com/government/o/OPD/s/career/index.htm, accessed December 2017