People tend to simplify the duties of a police officer. Some might think all that they do is issue traffic tickets, while others might limit their duties to handling emergency 911 calls. The truth is that there are most police officers have many duties, some of which are very dangerous while others can seem rather benign and tedious. Not all police officers share the same list of duties, however, and they do not necessarily do them in the same capacity.
Factors that can affect what a police officer does include his or her rank, location, jurisdiction, education, job history, occupational specialty, and more. Whether a police officer is on or off duty, he or she is expected to protect the lives and property of people, and this might be considered to be the primary duty of all police officers. They also patrol areas to catch people who are breaking the law and then to arrest them, warn them of their actions, or to give them a citation depending on the severity of their crime or misdemeanor. One important and time-consuming duty of a police officer is paperwork — writing police reports and keeping records of their activities.
There are also many minor duties of a police officer, all of which are also important within the greater scheme of keeping law and order intact. A common example is directing traffic, whether it is at the scene of an accident or at a particularly busy intersection. At the scenes of accidents, the police officer must also sometimes administer first aid to victims until paramedics arrive. Another minor, yet important, duty of a police officer is that of patrolling areas for the purpose of keeping them secure. He or she may school campuses, stores, shopping malls, public transportation facilities and more, all of which are also often patrolled by off duty police officers who do security work to earn extra income.
A police officer may also have special duties within a particular field. For example, some police officers train other officers and civilians about guns and gun safety. They may work with police dogs, or in forensic analysis, water patrol, or emergency response. Some police officers are actively involved in the community, building relationships and offering their services to local community organizations.