Chantel Leck — While many young people dream of being police officers, it’s a truth that not everyone is cut out for the job. Police workpolice officer is incredibly demanding, and it takes a certain type of person to do the job well. We’ve all read news stories about what can happen when the wrong type of person stands behind a badge; it’s important that we understand just who should be wearing a shield. Here are five qualities that every competent, effective officer should possess:

1. Communication Skills

A large part of a police officer’s job is communicating; both speaking and listening. Police officers must listen to victims tell their stories witnesses explain what they’ve seen, and suspects’ answers to questions. This information must be absorbed and sorted, impressions must be made, and truths and lies discovered. Police officer’s must also be able to talk to people in order to calm emotions, diffuse situations, and gain answers. Effective communication skills are one of the hallmarks of a good police officer.

2. Empathy

Most people don’t want to be pitied. Officers must be able to listen to a citizen and respond with empathy, not sympathy. It can be difficult to listen to the 100th citizen tell their story of being rear-ended, but a great police officer will remember that this may be the first accident for that 100th person. It’s very easy to become jaded and cynical; the best police officers are able to empathize with people no matter the situation.

3. Integrity

As citizens, we want police officers that have integrity. Temptation abounds for police. From the ability to remove evidence from a scene, to the ease of pocketing cash that belongs to a suspect, police officers must always remember which side of the law they are on. We must also demand that our police officers do not protect corrupt co-workers, and always follow proper protocol; no matter how much easier it would be to operate outside the lines of the law.

4. Professionalism

Imagine having a job where you were belittled, called names, and physically attacked on a daily basis; this is the job of a police officer. A police officer must understand that attacks on his or her character are not personal; people are speaking to the uniform, not the human wearing it. Exceptional officers are able to absorb verbal punishment and handle physical altercations with an amount of force that is necessary, not extraordinary.

5. Courage

There are very few occupations that require a person to run into danger instead of away from it. A police officer can not hesitate or panic in life-or-death situations. If the thought of getting shot at, spit on, or physically assaulted makes you quake in your shoes, this occupation isn’t the right one for you. While you will receive the training that you need in order to handle yourself in various situations, you need to be able to stand and face what others would flee from.

While we tend to only hear and read about corrupt, ineffective police officers, there are thousands more that we never hear of. These are the men and women who were made for the job; those that perform their jobs with integrity and honesty. If you possess the five qualities above and are thinking of becoming a police officer, you’re making a great choice.


About the Author

Chantel Leck is an avid blogger. If you’re interested in preventing crime, check out various careers possible with a criminal justice degree. 

1 Comment

  • Michell says:

    By the way Police men are supposed to take an ” Oath” when they are sworn in. Here is an example from Michigan.
    The Abstract Starts
    Two of the most neglected areas of police work are code of ethics and oath
    of office. These two documents are the most important issues of truth and integrity a
    police department has with the community it serves. Most police agencies have
    neglected these issues and do not fully understand the impact they have on the
    community they serve.
    Studies have shown the distrust the public has with several different
    professions, the police being one of these professions. In my research I surveyed a
    small group of police officers that produced data supporting the publics’ fear of
    This problem can be corrected by the police departments doing a better job
    of training and educating our officers on the Code of Ethics and the Police Oath of

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