The Pros and Cons of Being a Police Officer

Published: 2021-07-02
1200 words
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10 min to read
Vanderbilt University
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Police hiring agencies have specific higher (postsecondary education) requirements that potential candidates should fulfill to work there besides the training program. Certainly, a good education is essential for police officers since it is used to train and develop the mind, knowledge, and character of an officer. Developing the mind and knowledge is critical to the judgment of a police officer. For example, an educated police officer is likely to apply other options other than force to gain compliance. Moreover, an educated police officer demonstrates higher levels of problem-solving and creativity skills (Paprota, 2012). Furthermore, law enforcement has greatly changed over the years. Indeed, the adoption of technology has shaped the duties of the police officers. A technology-oriented society requires police officers who understand their role and how to apply technology in their operations.

First, educated detective use a multidisciplinary approach to understanding forensic science, and how such evidence strengthens a case. Additionally, police officers would require technical skills to assess ways of fighting cybercrime. Therefore, education is vital in the evolving technology-oriented society (Paynich, 2009). Today, technology enables citizens to oversight the work of the police officers. For example, they have video cameras that watch police officers perform their duties. Research has indicated that educated officers can work with more discretion, tolerance, as well as restraint when confronting resistance. Indeed, education is the best way to make a police officer a relevant asset to his/her department and the society.

Education has numerous benefits to the individual police officers. Beside acquiring better behavioral and performance characteristics, an educated officer gains independence in terms of decision-making and problem-solving. Secondly, educated officers can articulate their thoughts and improve their innovative thinking. Thirdly, an educated officer improves his/her adaptability and gains proficiency in technology. As a result, police officers encounter fewer on-the-job injuries as well as assaults. Moreover, it is essential to reduce the cases of departmental disciplinary actions and internal investigations. Again, it is necessary to display maturity and avoid using force as the first response (Rydberg & Terrill, 2010). Education helps police officers to avoid unethical behavior, enhance their report writing and communication skills, and improves their budget and management abilities. For this reason, the police department receives fewer complaints and accepts critical feedback regarding its job performance. Additionally, the police officers enhance their intellectual, personal growth to enable them to acquire higher positions.

Arrests, searches, and seizures

The American law plays a role in regulating the police and guiding their conduct. The key source of legal restraint is the law of search and seizure. According to the Fourth Amendment, individuals have a right to be secure in their houses, persons, and papers against unreasonable searches and seizures. For the right to be protected, no warrants should be issued without probable cause that should be supported by Oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched persons to be seized. Therefore, the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and limits the issuance of a search or arrest warrants.

According to the Fourth Amendment, a search is a police tactic that infringes a reasonable expectation of privacy (Slobogin, & Schumacher, 1993). Indeed, a reasonable expectation of privacy is one that a citizen might have compared to other citizens. Here, the police hear and see things that the members of the public would not be permitted to see. For instance, eavesdropping on a telephone conversation or opening a briefcase to inspect contents is a search. It is essential to learn that consensual transactions are not searches. It, therefore, means that the search and seizure law permits undercover agents.

The Supreme Court defines seizures as cases where a reasonable person in the shoes of the suspect would not feel free to leave. However, the definition is contradictory since it means that every conversation between the police and citizens is a seizure. Certainly, few people feel free to leave when approached on the street by policemen. In that case, the police would require adequate justification for every interaction. Nevertheless, the Fourth Amendment defines seizure as the collection of evidence by police officers and arrest of suspects.

An arrest occurs when police officers take people against will for questioning or criminal prosecution. The general provision is that a police officer should obtain an arrest warrant to make an arrest. Conversely, police officers might make warrantless arrests if they have a probable cause to believe that suspects have committed a crime and there is no time to obtain a warrant. Another case that justifies a warrantless arrest is where crime is committed in the presence of the police officer. However, evidence obtained from an invalid arrest could be excluded from a trial if it is not supported by probable cause.

Undeniably, the definition of search has acquired a good definition over the years. On the other hand, the definition of seizure remains unclear and open-ended. Although a conversation on the street between a police officer and a citizen begins as a consensual conversation and becomes a seizure, neither the police officer nor the court or the suspect knows precisely the point at which the encounter becomes a seizure.

Packard provides key tenets of a true justice system. First, the prosecution should prove every ingredient of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Secondly, the main goal of a criminal justice process is to be free of error (Mackey, Courtright, & Packard, 2006). Again, the accused can choose to remain silent at any point of a trial without his or her silence inferring anything. Inversely, the Packards tenets and the due process model differ in the matter of police ethics. First, the main goal of the criminal justice system should be to examine the guilt of the accused. Again, the judge might draw an adverse inference from the silence of the defendant.

I trust that a police officer should be held accountable for his/her actions to ensure fairness as well as consistency in the criminal justice system. For this reason, police supervisors can be held criminally liable for the conduct of police officers if they fail to give adequate directives. The first instance where police supervisors could be held criminally liable is where the supervisor does not issue verbal or written guidelines on how to do the job. For instance, one could sue a supervisor where an officer beats up a suspect in the presence of the supervisor yet the supervisor does nothing to stop it. The second case where a police supervisor might be held criminally responsible is where a police officer is mentally unstable. Here, the supervisor is sued for the unknown pain and harm caused to people.


Mackey, D. A., Courtright, K. E., & Packard, S. H. (2006). Testing the rehabilitative ideal among college students. Criminal Justice Studies, 19(2), 153-170.

Paprota, D. A. (2012). The Influence of Higher Education on Entry Level Law Enforcement Examination Outcomes.Paynich, R. L. (2009). The impact of a college-educated police force: A review of the literature. Milton, MA: Curry College.

Rydberg, J., & Terrill, W. (2010). The effect of higher education on police behavior. Police Quarterly, 13(1), 92-120.

Slobogin, C., & Schumacher, J. E. (1993). Reasonable Expectations of Privacy and Autonomy in Fourth Amendment Cases: An Empirical Look at" Understandings Recognized and Permitted by Society". Duke Law Journal, 42(4), 727-775.



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