Working at a police department does not necessarily mean that you should be a police officer. Despite the fact that this is one of the most popular jobs in law enforcement, if you look at the job openings, you will notice a great variety of other jobs including; dispatcher, intelligence analyst, investigative assistant, and crime scene technician just to name a few. This means, that there are many positions that you can apply for, if you want to join the police department.
It is important to know that all law enforcement agencies – local, state, and federal, put law enforcement jobs into 2 categories: sworn and non-sworn. Sworn positions are where there is arrest power and the person carries a gun. Non-sworn positions neither carry a gun, nor have arrest power and are sometimes put into the “Support” category. There is also a great variety of sworn jobs within the police department. With sworn positions, however, generally, everyone starts off as a police officer or deputy sheriff and then work their way up the ranks into the different positions. The non-sworn positions, on the other hand, are offered as entry level so that you can be hired to go directly into that role. You may, however, need specific education or experience. There is also a third group of positions, which can be either sworn or non-sworn depending on the department.
Below we will have a look at all the available non-sworn positions within a police department with details about their main duties, requirements, and pay scale.
Entry level non-sworn positions at a police department
If you want to help the community and work in a police department but you feel that the position of a police officer is not the right fit for you, you can work at one of the “support” positions. Note that you will not be allowed to carry weapons or make arrests. Nevertheless, your work will be much needed and valued.
The following are jobs within a police department focusing on non-sworn positions.
A Police Dispatcher can be the first line of contact in case of emergency. Dispatchers work on the phone either within call centers or in the police department itself and get calls that are directed to the law enforcement agency or redirected from 911 dispatchers.
- Education and training: There are no specific requirements about education except a high school diploma or equivalent. Initial and on-the-job training are provided. Knowledge of technological equipment and computer skills are a great plus. The candidates should be able to work under stress, have strong attention to detail, and be highly organized.
- Duties: The Police Dispatcher works on shifts as the job is 24/7. The dispatcher may work alone or with in a team depending on the size of the department. The job of the dispatcher is to process and evaluate the information received by the caller while trying to keep them calm. The dispatcher needs to assess the importance of the call and direct it to the relevant personnel to follow on the information received. Sometimes, the dispatchers coordinate different police units. They also keep logs of the calls, responses, requests and the overall police activity.
- Payment: The hourly rate varies between $11.90 and $25.56, while overtime is paid by $19.44 – $44.57; the annual salary is $25,484 – $57,659 (data: PayScale).
The Crime Analyst works in an office and can provide specific case support for investigators and also analyze trends in various crimes.
- Education and training: In order to apply for this position, the candidate needs a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. Prior experience in the field is beneficial. Initial and on-the-job training is provided. The candidate should be able to work in a team, have excellent communication and data processing skills, should be able to work with various equipment.
- Duties: They research and analyze data, use a computer to input data and prepare written or oral reports and other statistical information. The Crime Analysts provide crime intelligence to the police department, they analyze and identify crime patterns and draw the attention of the relevant staff to them. They also assemble suspect and victim profiles and offer action plans for fighting and preventing crime.
- Payment: The salary of a Crime Analyst varies between $33,305 and $64,910, with median payment of $45,836 (data: PayScale).
An Intelligence Analyst works for a police department or sheriff’s office. Their job is related to providing information about security threats and trending crimes.
- Education and training: A Bachelor’s degree in the field is required, anything related to intelligence collection and analysis. Prior experience is of great importance and generally, many agencies may prefer extensive experience in place of a degree. Proper certification is often required. Strong attention to detail and great analytical skills are a must. Flexibility and opportunity to work under stress and upon short notice are also required, as well as computer skills.
- Duties: The Intelligence Analysts need to gather and analyze information from different sources and assess its reliability. They also initiate, coordinate and conduct research efforts. The analysts also prepare reports and present findings to all interested parties. They collect and maintain intelligence records and files.
- Payment: The salary of an Intelligence Analyst varies between $39,930 and $100,694, with median payment of $66,352 (data: PayScale).
The Evidence Custodian is the person who oversees evidence and is responsible for its safe and secure storage. A law enforcement officer may be assigned to this position or request to work as an evidence custodian.
- Education and training: In most of the cases no formal education is required, though some departments prefer an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Experience as a police officer is usually preferred before moving to work with evidence. A background check is performed on every Evidence Custodian. Training is provided when starting the job. Some of the main requirements for the candidate include strong attention to detail and excellent organization skills.
- Duties: The Evidence Custodian receives the evidence from the officers who bring it to storage. The job of the custodians is to log it and keep a proper note of each time the evidence comes in and goes out. They need to ensure a proper chain-of-custody. The custodians take special care of hazardous evidence as well, making sure it is properly stored. As they are aware of the laws regulating taking of evidence, custodians often instruct other police officers, lawyers or other interested parties on the proper methods of gaining access to evidence. Sometimes, they might be summoned to court to testify.
- Payment: The salary of an Evidence Custodian is in the range of $30-40,000 and depends on the department that is the employer.
The Police Records Clerk should be able to work in a stressful environment and under pressure. The main task of this person is to know all the recent information about accidents and crimes and be able to respond to public inquires.
- Education and training: There are no specific requirements about the type of education for a Police Records Clerk beyond a high school degree or its equivalent. There are colleges that offer a major in administration of justice that prepares the students for this job, however most of the training is received on the job. Some agencies prefer candidates with an associate or Bachelor’s degree, so having a degree is an advantage. Some general work experience is also a plus. The candidate should be well organized and have good computer and writing skills.
- Duties: As the name suggests, the Police Records Clerk deals primarily with the records filing system and database. The clerks are responsible for both electronic and paper records of the police department activities. They also provide accurate and understandable information to the public. Their duties may also include answering phone inquiries or taking photographs or fingerprints.
- Payment: The salary of a Police Records Clerk ranges usually between $31,233 and $38,325 and the median salary is $33,633 (data: com).
The Police Aid performs different routine tasks aiming to facilitate the work of the police department as a whole. Aids may have various field assignments or technical activities depending on the current needs of the department they are employed by.
- Education and training: The candidate should have graduated high school or equivalent. It is an advantage if the candidate is currently studying in an accredited college or university, preferably something related to criminal justice, political science, social science or the like. Prior experience in a law enforcement agency is considered a plus. The candidate should have good analytical skills and be eager to learn. Training on different laws, policies and procedures is performed at the job.
- Duties: The responsibilities of the Police Aid vary depending on the current demand in the police department. The duties include taking care of abandoned vehicles that includes keeping an inventory, storing and releasing of property and evidence, organizing and distributing information materials and handouts, issuing parking citations, assistance in the development of community programs, etc. The Police Aids also take care of the police department vehicles and transports them to be regularly maintained or repaired when necessary. They also look after the equipment in the vehicles and after the fire safety equipment. Police aids may perform other duties if necessary.
- Payment: The hourly rate for a Police Aid is typically ranging between $10.74 and $12.44. The position can be part-time as well.
The Investigative Assistant is an entry level position. The main responsibilities of this person are to perform general office duties and some limited field work in order to assist the investigation.
- Education and training: The candidate should have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to start work as an investigative assistant. Related work experience is not a must but is considered an advantage. A college course in criminal justice or in other law enforcement field is also considered a great plus. Attention to detail and strong organization skills are a must, along with being able to use standard computer programs. On-the-job training is provided.
- Duties: The overall duty of the Investigative Assistant is to facilitate the investigation of criminal or civil cases. To that end, the employee needs to process and serve different legal documents such as orders, subpoenas, legal motions or complaints. The assistant should be familiar with CLETS terminal and other systems used to locate individuals and be able to use DMV records. Some other tasks include photographing crime scenes, transporting evidence, taking fingerprints, mug shots and dealing with police reports or background checks from other agencies. The Investigative Assistant is also responsible for transporting victims and witnesses to court or providing them with information about court appearances. The assistants may be required to perform some other tasks in case they are needed for the investigation.
- Payment: The salary of an Investigative Assistant varies between $33,464 and $100,727, with median payment of $61,768 (data: PayScale).
Crime Scene Technician
The Crime Scene Technician is often called Forensic Science Technician as well. These are highly trained professionals, who work with law enforcement professionals from different areas in order to solve crimes. They may partner with state and local police departments, federal law enforcement agencies, detective bureaus or representatives of the court system. The position of the Crime Scene Technician is the lowest within the forensic department and receives supervision from the higher positions.
- Education and training: The minimum requirement is to have a high school degree or GED equivalent, however a Crime Scene Technician Certificate or an associate or Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, forensic science or crime scene investigation is a plus for any candidate. The applicant should have excellent communication skills and be able to work under pressure and in a team. Those with military or law enforcement background stand higher chances of appointment. On-the-job training is provided for each new Crime Scene Technician.
- Duties: The main duty of the technician is to support the forensic science unit. The Crime Scene Technicians collect evidence found at the crime scene and have the task to preserve, inspect and process it. This includes physical evidence such as bodily fluids or weapons. They also draw sketches of the crime scene and later prepare diagrams using special computer software. The crime scene technicians may testify in court. They also perform lab analysis on the evidence, interpret the data and prepare reports. Technicians may assist in hospital cases where the root of the death of a person needs to be found.
- Payment: The salary of a Crime Scene Technician varies between 29,530 and $65,659, with median payment of $45,928 (data: PayScale).
As you can see there is a great variety of non-sworn positions at a police department that are available for candidates who want to work in the field of law enforcement but do not necessarily as a police officer. There are also a few more positions that can be either sworn or non-sworn, depending on the specific department and we are going to present them along with the hierarchical growth in the second part of our guide to police department jobs.