5 Characteristics of Law Enforcement Agents

Law EnforcementThe best law enforcement officers are unselfish, altruistic types. To take on the responsibilities of a police officer, you need a burning desire to help people and to safeguard their well-being and property. Generally, law enforcement officers feel a duty to their community and want to make a difference for its citizens.

1. Commitment to Helping People

Law enforcement officers must be true believers in the law and the legal process. They have to be morally upright and committed to improving conditions in their assigned area. Fighting crime can be frustrating, but the rewards are great. Police officers face a wide range of dangers and risks and put their health and safety on the line daily. They help those who cannot protect themselves and need the assistance of a law enforcement officer the most. There are other physical requirements that law enforcement officers must meet, but compassion and the desire to “do good” are essential traits exhibited by the best police officers. A great law enforcement officer enjoys meeting people and interacting with the public, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Communication Skills

The most successful law enforcement officers are able to effectively communicate with their colleagues, fellow officers and the general constituency. The difference between life and death can depend on a police officer’s ability to communicate effectively. One day, you might have to convince a criminal to surrender. Another time, you might have to calm an aggrieved victim. The best law enforcement officers can read a person’s verbal and physical cues and know how to communicate and react accordingly. It is essential to connect with the young and old, the rich and poor and people from widely divergent cultures. A police officer must also be skilled at interviewing people and resolving conflict fairly.

3. Physical Requirements

Physical fitness is critical for a law enforcement officer. The reason is two-fold. First of all, the officer must be able to perform in the field. This can mean chasing a suspect on foot, climbing fences or even fighting. Staying in shape helps ensure success when forced into these activities. Secondly, a law enforcement officer who is in good condition is more likely to resist injury or illness. With such a dangerous job, staying in top physical shape is absolutely necessary. You must pass a physical exam and a drug screen. You need keen eyesight and good hearing. You vision may not be below 20/30 when corrected. You may not be color-blind, and your night vision, peripheral vision and depth perception must be within normal ranges. You’ll be expected to do a battery of exercises, including chin-ups, push-ups and sit-ups. You must also be able to run a specified distance in a certain time.

4. Psychological Requirements

To become a law enforcement officer, you may not exhibit any type of mental or behavioral disorder. You must be emotionally stable and capable of exercising good judgment. When placed in a dangerous or stressful situation, you have to use good judgment and react calmly. Persons who display addictive behavior patterns are not good candidates for a law enforcement career.

5. Ability to Handle Working with Difficult People in Difficult Situations

Stressful situations with difficult people are common. The best law enforcement officers can maintain their composure when dealing with drivers with road rage, intervening in a domestic disturbance or engaging in a shootout with criminals while abiding with all applicable laws and procedures.

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Being a law enforcement officer requires a wide range of people skills, a sense of duty and the willingness to stay in good physical condition. The risks are great, but so are the rewards.