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Police officer and Detectives Nature of the work People depend on police officers and detectives to protect their lives and property In most jurisdictions they are expected to exercise authority when necessary whether on or off duty Police regularly patrol and respond to calls for service They may direct traffic at the scene of a fire investigate a burglary or give first aid to an accident victim Police agencies are usually organized into geographic districts with uniformed officers assigned to patrol a specific area While on patrol officers attempt to become thoroughly familiar with their patrol area and remain alert for anything unusual Suspicious circumstances and hazards to public safety are investigated or noted and officers are dispatched to individual calls for assistance within their district During their shift they may identify pursue and arrest suspected criminal resolve problems within the community and enforce traffic laws Some police officers specialize in such diverse fields as chemical and microscopic analysis training and firearms instruction or handwriting and fingerprint identification Detectives are plainclothes investigators who gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases They conduct interviews examine records observe the activities of suspects and participate in raids or arrests Working Conditions Police work can be very dangerous and stressful Uniformed officers and detectives are usually scheduled to work 40-hour weeks but paid overtime is common Shift work is necessary because protection must be provided around the clock Police officers and detectives are required to work at any time their services are needed and may work long hours during investigations In most jurisdictions whether on or off duty officers are expected to be armed and to exercise their arrest authority whenever necessary Employment Police and detectives held about 727000 jobs in 1998 About 81 percent of police detectives and investigators were employed by local governments State police agencies employed about 13 percent of all police detectives and investigators and various Federal agencies employed the other 6
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