Police Role Descriptions in the Media


Police officers are expected to enforce the law. They must serve and protect the public. They are society’s first line of defense. The public expects police officers to serve with courage and honor. These expectations can, sometimes, prove to be quite overwhelming. Officers of the law are constantly in the line of fire. The media criticizes them for their mistakes. The public scrutinizes their techniques. Their budget is often inadequate and manpower is a never-ending concern. Despite all these expectations, they are obligated to protect the public.

“Law enforcement officials shall at all times fulfill the duty imposed on them by law, by serving the community and by protecting all persons against illegal acts, consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession” (UN Blue Book, 2010). Police officers are supposed to value the lives of civilians more than they do their own. It is not easy for one man to risk his life to save another. According to the UN Blue Book (2010), “Law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons. Law enforcement officials shall not commit any act of corruption”. Like all human beings, police officers are prone to fear and doubt. They must therefore make sacrifices in the line of duty.

Crime Fighter

Police officers are expected to fight crime. They must bring criminals to justice. Their role as crime fighters is real. They constantly risk their own lives to protect the lives of those around them. An Investigations Article (2010) from Policeone.com states the following:

“Hoping to solve numerous cold cases, authorities on Thursday released hundreds of photos of unidentified women and children found in a storage unit that belonged to a serial killer who appeared on ‘The Dating Game.’ Investigators are trying to determine if some of the people in the pictures were victims of Rodney Alcala, 66, who was convicted in February of murdering a child and four women between November 1977 and June 1979. Authorities already believe that Alcala may be responsible for deaths in New York, Schroeder said. According to the Orange County District Attorney, Alcala was convicted in 1972 of kidnapping and molesting a child in Los Angeles County in 1968. After serving a 34-month sentence, he was released. In November 1977, Alcala raped, sodomized, and murdered Jill Barcomb, an 18-year-old New Yorker who had recently moved to California, the district attorney said. The body was discovered soon after, and biological evidence was collected, but DNA technology was not yet available to find her killer.”

The police force exploits all of its resources to bring criminals to justice. It also deals with cold cases that would otherwise remain unsolved.

Social Servant

Police officers are, at times, expected to serve the public in a different capacity. They are often present at social events like parades and political rallies. They ensure that the public is kept safe from harm. They sensitize the public by providing vital information about new events. They inform the public by addressing issues that may raise their concern. A press release from the San Francisco Police Department (2010) states the following:

“The San Francisco Police Department Traffic Company will kick off a year-long pedestrian safety and enforcement program with a Pedestrian Safety Awareness Day press conference on Wednesday, March 3, at Central Police Station, 766 Vallejo Street, at 9:45 A.M.

The program will emphasize pedestrian safety awareness by providing information and giving presentations to motorists and pedestrians alike throughout the city. Special attention will be given to senior citizen groups to enhance safety awareness and reduce hazardous behavior. The primary goal of this program is to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle collisions.”

Their role as public servants is evident in many respects. Police officers are rumored to always be on duty. They resolve conflicts even when they are not in uniform.

Crime Preventer

Police officers are expected to prevent potential crimes from taking place. If they have reason to believe that a person is dangerous, they are likely to investigate the matter. They do this by respecting the constitutional right of all the parties involved. They do everything within their professional capacity to stop potential violations of the law. Possession of firearms is legal. Police officers do not have the right to arrest a person who has procured guns through legal means. They can, however, deal with those who have illegal firearms. The Mayor of Chicago press office (2010) published the following article:

“A day before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the gun industry’s challenge to the constitutionality of Chicago’s handgun laws, Mayor Richard M. Daley reiterated that reasonable, local gun laws are a responsible way to protect the nation’s streets, families, and children from gun violence.

“The outcome of this case could determine whether or not local governments around the nation have the legal authority to enact reasonable, common-sense gun laws to protect their residents,” Daley said during a news conference at Chicago Police Department headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. “

Order Maintainer

Maintaining order is one of the most cumbersome tasks a police officer can perform. It is a role that requires patience and self-control. Police officers are expected to maintain order without violating the constitutional rights of civilians. In the past, peaceful demonstrations have ended in violence because officers have been forced to restrain unruly civilians. Riots are some of the worst scenarios an officer can face. Officers are expected to use force only if it is necessary. Maintaining order can therefore become an act of personal judgment. In such a situation, an officer may be required to use necessary force to maintain order. Some situations, however, do not warrant the use of force. Officers may be required to assist the public by “keeping the peace”. An article posted by Fox (2010) states the following:

“American forces arrived in the immediate aftermath of the quake to treat the wounded, provide emergency water and rations and help prevent a feared outbreak of violence among desperate survivors. They also helped reopen the airport and seaport.

There has been no widespread violence but security is a real issue. A U.N. food convoy traveling from Gonaives to Disciplines on Friday was stopped and overrun by people, who looted two trucks before peacekeepers regained control, U.N. officials said.

They managed to escort the other two back to Gonaives. There were no reports of injuries.”

Officers have been deployed to help maintain order in Haiti (Fox 2010). This serves as evidence of their commitment. They are sometimes expected to act above and beyond the call of duty. They earn meager salaries while risking their lives daily. Their work is one of the noblest professions known to man. Their roles are therefore real. Their actions may be questionable, but their selfless commitment to upholding the law is evident in many respects.

Reference List

Fox, B. (2010). In Clickondetroit.com. US Troops Withdrawing En Masse from Haiti City Still Vulnerable. BEN FOX, Associated Press Writers POSTED.

Mayor’s Press Office (2010). In Cityofchicago.org. Reasonable Gun Laws a Responsible Way to Protect Against Gun Violence. Mayor’s Press Office/312-744-3334. Web.

Investigations Article (2010). In Policeone.com. Police seek help identifying serial killer’s photos. Web.

San Francisco Police Department (2010). Media Relations Unit Press Release. San Francisco Police Traffic Company to kick off Year- Long Pedestrian Safety program. Web.

UN Blue Book (2010). The Role of the Police. Web.

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