What Does a Police Officer Do? (and How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 August 2022

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in the police forces offers great job stability, financial security, attractive benefits and opportunities for candidates to serve society. There are a variety of job roles and designations in the police force available to aspiring candidates. If you are interested in a career in the civil services, you may be a good fit for the post of police officer. In this article, we examine what does a police officer do, what skills they require on the job, what types of job roles exist in the police force, how to become a police officer and salary information.

Related: Hierarchy Of Police Ranks In India (With Insignia)

What Does A Police Officer Do?

If you are wondering "What does a police officer do?," police officers maintain public order by preventing crime, arresting criminals and protecting lives and property. Their responsibilities may vary depending on the specific position and experience level, but most police officers write reports and keep detailed records of police activities and operations. They also testify in court for the cases they handle. Other responsibilities may include:

  • Responding to emergencies

  • Investigating crimes, gathering evidence and securing crime scenes

  • Observing the activities of suspects, obtaining warrants and making and processing arrests

  • Taking eyewitness statements and interviewing suspected criminals

  • Writing detailed reports about cases

  • Preparing case materials and evidence, and testifying in court

Related: What Are Police Officer Career Goals? (With Examples)

Types Of Job Roles In The Police Force

The Indian Police Service offers candidates a variety of job roles within a well-defined hierarchy. The selection process and the eligibility parameters for these roles may differ. These are some prominent types of job roles in the police force:

  • Police constable: This is an entry-level role in the police force. Constables are answerable to head constables and police inspectors.

  • Police head constable: Head constables assist and facilitate the work of sub-inspectors and help them carry out routine tasks in a police station.

  • Assistant sub-inspector of police: Assistant sub-inspectors are non-gazetted police officers. In the hierarchy within a police force, they rank below sub-inspectors and above head constables.

  • Sub-inspector of police: This is an entry-level officer post in a police force. Sub-inspectors can file charge sheets in courts, as part of cases and court proceedings.

  • Assistant inspector of police: An assistant inspector takes charge of a police station in the absence of an inspector of police. They rank above sub-inspectors in the official hierarchy of the police force.

  • Inspector of police or CI (Circle Inspector): An inspector of police or a CI is in charge of a police station within a locality or geographic boundary. Their jurisdiction limits to the locality of their police station.

  • DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police): A DSP is in charge of several police stations within a district. They assist the superintendent of police and take over responsibilities in their absence.

  • SP (Superintendent of Police): SPs may be in charge of large urban areas and their peripheral towns within a district. They may be in charge of several police stations and DSPs.

Related: How To Become a Police Inspector

How To Become A Police Officer?

Follow these steps to become a police officer:

1. Graduate from higher secondary school

To become an officer in the police force, you can graduate from higher secondary school in any academic stream. Most job roles within the police force require 10+2 level education. You can pursue entry-level posts like constable and head constable after completing matriculation or passing the 10th standard board exam. Constables enter the force based on the results of a state-level recruitment exam.

2. Pursue a bachelor's degree

You can become eligible for an officer posting after you earn a bachelor's degree. The lower age limit for police officers in the country is 21. After graduation, you can appear for the SSC (Staff Selection Commission) or the IPS (Indian Police Service) examinations.

3. Pass evaluations and background checks

To be eligible for an officer posting in the police force, you can clear the physical and mental evaluations and a background check. The physical evaluation assesses the health, physical fitness and eyesight of candidates. The mental evaluation helps police recruiters understand how well you can handle stressful situations that the job may present. Candidates with a criminal record are ineligible to join the police force. All candidates are required to be Indian citizens to be eligible, and be between the ages 21 and 32.

4. Clear the SSC or IPS examinations

Depending on what posting you aspire for, you can appear for and clear the SSC or IPS examinations. Circle inspectors, sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors clear the SSC examination to enter the force. Head constables with five to seven years of experience gain promotions to the post of assistant sub-inspector. Superintendents (SPs), Additional Superintendents of Police (ASPs) and Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) clear the IPS examinations to enter the force.

5. Undergo training at a police academy

Once selected, new recruits undergo training at a police academy along with other candidates who have cleared the civil services examinations. The foundation course typically takes three months to complete and precedes training phases one and two. Phase one is an 11-month course and phase two, which is the final training module, takes a month to complete. After training, you can join the police force as an officer.

Related: How To Become a Police Officer in the IPS in 4 Steps

Skills Required For Police Officers

Being successful in the role of a police officer requires several hard and soft skills, including:

Interpersonal skills

Commonly referred to as people skills, officers rely on these abilities when communicating and building working relationships with a variety of individuals. Interpersonal skills include dependability, leadership, patience and empathy. Police officers benefit from being empathetic, open-minded and taking due time to form their opinion about a case.

Communication skills

These skills include not only verbal and written communication but also non-verbal signals, such as body language, eye contact and facial expressions. Police officers interact with a wide variety of people on a routine basis. This includes witnesses, victims, suspects and other police officers. They benefit from possessing excellent verbal communication and active listening skills.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills

Critical thinking skills

These skills refer to the ability to analyse a problem or a set of facts and form a judgment or identify a solution. These skills are essential for conducting investigations, as police officers use evidence and analysis to determine what happened at a crime scene and who is responsible. Police officers also collect and process statements from suspects and concerned individuals. They analyse these statements critically, verifying cross references in the information and determining the accuracy of statements.

Teamwork

Teamwork involves committing to shared team goals over individual interests, cooperating, listening to the opinions of others, accepting constructive feedback and delegating duties. Police officers rely on teamwork among officers in-house and between different departments to best serve the public and maintain order within communities. Decisions and operations follow a chain of command, and all officers typically follow the orders they receive from senior officials in the force.

Physical strength

Physical strength also includes agility and stamina. Police work can be dangerous, and officers benefit from having the physical ability to maintain their energy levels throughout the day and being prepared to act quickly. Police officers have access to physical training facilities and sports infrastructure.

Related: Skills For A Police Officer: Definition And Examples

Police Officer Work Environment

Police officers are professionals who receive respect, as their duty is to serve society, but they also face several challenges as part of their job. Police work can often be dangerous, and officers may routinely interact with dangerous criminals and malicious individuals. In entry-level posts, you may face a lot of work pressure and may be required to work unconventional hours. For many individuals, these aspects have the potential to contribute to stress.

The work environment of a police officer varies depending on the specific role they fill within a police department. A police officer's work environment may demand:

  • Sitting or standing for long periods of time

  • Occasional lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling

  • Some running and walking, even stooping, kneeling, crouching or crawling

  • Operating computers, printers and other office equipment

  • Operating a moving vehicle

How Much Does A Police Officer Make?

The average base salary of an entry-level police officer is ₹4,68,983 per year. With sufficient work experience, or by clearing selection tests and exams, you can earn promotions and improve your earning potential. The average base salary of a police officer is ₹41,664 per month.

Related: How Much Does an IPS Officer Make? (With Ranks and Salary)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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