There are many and various jobs at a police department and the main difference between the positions is that some of them are held by sworn officers, while others are non-sworn positions.
There is a group of positions, however, where the position may be sworn with some agencies, or non-sworn with another. Whether the position is sworn or non-sworn will depend upon the individual police department. There will be consistency within that agency, so it will be either sworn or non-sworn, not a combination. These are jobs that you can find in the job openings as available entry level positions or that you can be promoted to once you have started your career as a police officer. The third part of our guide into the available police department jobs will focus exactly on this type of positions.
Below you will find a list of the jobs that can be taken by both sworn and non-sworn officers, along with a short description of their duties and the expected payment.
Police department jobs that can be sworn or non-sworn
There is a group of positions that can be held either by sworn or non-sworn personnel. It depends entirely on the individual department.
Crime Scene Investigator
The position of the Crime Scene Investigator is one of the well-known jobs. Crime Scene Investigators work a lot of on-call hours as they need to respond to a crime and visit the crime scene whenever necessary. They need to be able to emotionally detach themselves from the scene and objectively evaluate every detail and collect all available evidence. A Crime Scene Investigator should be highly responsible and organized and flexible when it comes to working hours.
- Education and training: A desired requirement is a bachelor’s degree in forensic sciences and background in criminal justice, biology or chemistry is preferred. On-the-job training is provided for each newly-hired Crime Scene Investigator. Prior experience is not a must but is considered an advantage. Strong analytical skills and attention to detail are a plus for the applicant.
- Duties: Crime Scene Investigators perform several tasks at the crime scene: lift and collect fingerprints, collect and document traces of DNA, draw sketches of the crime scene, collect all types of evidence. At a later stage they also need to examine weapons or other devices found at the crime scene and keep record of all collected evidence. Crime Scene Investigators need to follow strict protocols that include numerous details about their work and hence organization and efficient time-management is very important. They also supervise the work of crime scene technicians and trainees or volunteers and provide necessary training.
- Payment: The annual salary of a Crime Scene Investigator ranges from $29,729 to $72,157; the median pay stands at $43,501 (source: PayScale).
The Death Investigator is responsible for the investigation of unexplained, unusual or suspicious deaths, which includes all homicides and suicides, all deaths as a result of poisoning, regardless of the cause of poisoning – homicide, suicide or accident. They also deal with deaths following accidents or when there was no physician in attendance within 30 days prior to the death of the person.
- Education and training: There are no strict requirements about the education of the applicant and any degree in Forensic Science, Natural Science, Anthropology, Nursing, or any other medically related field is acceptable. In addition, there are specific training courses established throughout the country that teach the basics for this job. On-the-job training is also provided. Knowledge of local, state and federal laws is required for the successful implementation of the duties of the Death Investigator. As a whole, knowledge of both medicine and law is required for the position.
- Duties: The role of the Death Investigators is to investigate the cause of the death. They are responsible for the dead body and the immediate area around the body, while Crime Scene Investigators from the given jurisdiction are responsible for the entire crime scene.
- Payment: The annual salary of a Death Investigator ranges from $24,420 to $104,488; the median pay stands at $52,404 (source: PayScale).
The Background Investigators conduct a large range of investigations in accordance to the needs of the police department they work for. The job requires a lot of travel to personally interview some of the subjects of the background investigation. The other part of the job includes working from an office: checking various databases for information or making phone calls. The Background Investigators themselves should go through a thorough background check as well, since they work with sensitive information. In addition to that, they are also regularly tested for drugs. Their financial situation is also under scrutiny to avoid possibilities of bribes in case of bad credit or gambling habits.
- Education and training: A Bachelor’s degree often required for the position of a Background Investigator. On-the-job training is also provided. The applicant must be well-organized, have a strong attention to detail, be computer-literate and willing to travel.
- Duties: The duty of the Background Investigator is to run a thorough background check on applicants who are applying for employment with that police department. They are looking for information for would make that applicant poorly suited for working in a law enforcement that handles sensitive information and investigations. That can be felony convictions or outstanding debts or other particular information. To this end, they use various resources that include databases and personal interviews with related parties. The Background Investigators must prepare and fill in reports with the results. Most often the investigator works alone but can also be part of a team if the case is more urgent or specific.
- Payment: The annual salary of a Background Investigator ranges from $33,590 to $71,873; the median pay stands at $45,857 (source: PayScale).
The Detention Officer usually works in a prison, jail or other detention facility. They take care of convicted criminals or persons, who are detained but have not stood trial yet.
- Education and training: The educational requirements will vary by agency. However, the minimum education requirements may be a high school diploma, GED, or some college.A degree from vocational school or community college is very desirable. Prior experience is not required but will be considered a plus. Physical fitness, training in self-defense and crowd control are provided by the agency.
- Duties: Detention Officers make sure that inmates follow the strict rules and operations of the facility they are in. They supervise and oversee almost every aspect of the life of the inmate. Special attention is paid to the time spent outside the cell. The Detention Officers are also responsible for the transportation and movement of detainees.
- Payment: The hourly rate received by a Detention Officer varies from $12.02 to $23.61, with median rate being $16,65 per hour. Overtime is paid at $15.67 – $35.14 (source: PayScale).
Community Service Officer
The concept of the Community Service Officer was established in the USA around the 1970s. Generally, they provide support in crime prevention and investigation and respond to a crime scene when sworn officer are not needed. The Community Service Officers have supportive functions when it comes to enforcing law and order by police officers. Their work is both in an office and outside.
- Education and training: A high school diploma or GED and certain number of years of police related experience (usually 2 but may vary for the different departments). Any equivalent combination of education and experience is also acceptable. Good verbal and written communication skills are required, as well as the ability to act with tact and interact with the general public and the other members of the police department. Computer skills and knowledge of specialized software are also needed. On-the-job training is provided.
- Duties: The main responsibility of the Community Service Officer is to enforce local and state laws. If sworn, they can carry firearms and make arrests. Those officers are responsible for preparing reports about accidents or incidents reported over the phone or by walk-in people, answer department phones and testify in court whenever necessary. Community Service Officers may issue citations when necessary, invest criminal activity, take fingerprints for people applying for license and run background checks on such people, assist with information and directions when asked. They also participate in the training activities and may perform other duties as required by the current needs of the police department.
- Payment: A Community Service Officer earns an average salary of $41,306 per year. The median hourly rate is $17.22 and overtime is paid at $25.53 (source: PayScale).
Public Information Officer
The main responsibility of the Public Information Officer is to maintain good relations between the media, citizens, and the police department. The job is usually in an office but some travel may be necessary as well. Public Information Officers generally work alone and in smaller departments the position may be part-time. Sometimes they are required to work evenings or during the weekends.
- Education and training: A bachelor’s degree in a field such as Journalism, Public Relations, Marketing, or Communications is required for this position. Excellent communication and presentation skills are also a must.
- Duties: The Public Information Officers can be reviewed as a Public Relations Specialists (PR) and in this capacity they have a series of duties and responsibilities. Mainly, they act as representatives for the police department and keep liaisons between the citizens and the department. Other important task is to prepare press materials, run the digital and/or social media of the department, maintain the newsletter (if any), draft speeches for other officials of the department.
- Payment: The annual salary of a Public Information Officer ranges from $36,268 to $80,885; the median pay stands at $53,372 (source: PayScale).
These are the positions at a police department that can be held either by sworn or non-sworn personnel. The choice depends on the actual police department, its size and current needs and sometimes on the availability.
The overall conclusion is that the variety of jobs offered by a police department is quite abundant. If you want to serve the public and work in the sphere of law enforcement, you can find your dream job at the police department. There is a need for people with various education, knowledge and skills. No job position is less important than the other. On the contrary, the combination jobs makes the law enforcement agency run smooth. Check the job openings at your local department or around the state and prepare yourself for the hiring process if you meet the minimum requirements. Once successfully hired, you will be able to serve the community in your own way.