All police officers take on a basic range of tasks that are either preventive or proactive. Preventive tasks include the provision of protection to the person and property of individuals, preservation of peace and order through their presence and accessibility, and prevention of crime by patrolling the streets. Proactive tasks are searching and arresting criminal offenders and enforcing laws such as traffic and road safety regulations. (Criminal Justice USA, 2008; Los Angeles Police Department, 2008) These tasks require a number of qualifying criteria for police officers.
One is physical fitness since the completion of police work becomes more efficient with physically fit police officers. This is the reason why police officers undergo physical training such as the physical agility test and medical examination before qualifying to work the job. Another is psychological fitness since police officers need to develop the values and attitude needed for them to use their authority within the bounds of the law as law enforcers such as social skills.
Last is mental and other skills and experience, including driving skills for street patrol, keen eyesight and observation skills, and basic knowledge of the law and legal processes. (Police Oracle, 2008) At a minimum, a high school diploma or equivalent qualification is required for police officers (Criminal Justice USA, 2008). In addition, continued academic and field learning improves the ability of police officers to meet their job. As such, police officers need to develop commitment and dedication to their job since this not only enables them to perform their work effectively but also enhances continued efficiency.
In the performance of this range of tasks, police officers take on line and staff jobs. Line jobs pertain to the direct accomplishment of the tasks of police officers especially field work while staff jobs pertain to support for line work such as administrative and other support tasks (Police Oracle, 2008). Police officers need to master not only line jobs but also staff jobs to support and maintain the sound organizational or functional structure of the law enforcement agency inn providing public service.