What do police officers do?


The primary responsibility of police officers is to protect the public, or if comissioned, the person/group/organization to which they are assigned. Through detecting and preventing crime, police officers strive to maintain law and order in their respective jurisdictions.

Working conditions

Most new police officers work in general duty in patrol divisions, which provides a broad range of experiences and assignments. General duty policing involves patrolling assigned areas to enforce laws, protect public safety, and arrest criminal suspects—either by car, foot, bicycle, or in some cases, horse.

Police officers can also do some or all of the following: Investigate accidents and crime scenes; secure evidence and interview witnesses; testify in court; collect notes and reports; provide emergency assistance to victims of natural disasters, crime, and accidents; engage in crime prevention, safety, and public information programs; participate in media relations; and supervise and manage the work of other police officers.

Working as a police officer can be one of the most diverse career experiences, as specializations ranging in the hundreds are available. With a few years of service (usually four or more), you can move into areas such as: criminal identification, drug investigations, sexual assault, fraud, major case and/or crime management, surveillance, aircraft security, explosives disposal, police dog services, and many more.

Police officers must be available for shift work at any time of day and any day of the week, including holidays. Shifts tend to be longer than the standard eight-hour office day. Even though many regular police duties are routine in nature, the job can also be dangerous, as well as physically and emotionally stressful.

Where they work

Police officers can be employed by municipal and federal governments, certain provincial and regional governments, and the Canadian Forces. Military police officers have similar duties to others, except they’re responsible for supporting and protecting all components of the Canadian Forces rather than the general public.


The majority of jobs can be found with the The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a national, federal, provincial, and municipal policing body that employs officers across Canada. The RCMP supports all Canadians, but also provides policing services under contract to “the three territories, eight provinces (except Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities and three international airports.


Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial forces: The Ontario Provincial Police and The Surete du Quebec. All other opportunities can be found at the municipal level.

Published on July 5, 2012
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