13 Police Skills to Help You Succeed As a Police Officer

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether you're currently employed as a police officer or looking to apply for a position, it's important that you understand the unique skills that can help you succeed in your job. Police officer skills allow law enforcement professionals to contribute to public safety within a community. Taking the time to review police officer skills can help you maximise your job performance and become noticeable to employers during a job search. In this article, we discuss essential police skills, provide some examples of police officer skills, show you how to improve them and outline how to highlight your police officer skills.

13 common police skills

Police skills are a combination of interpersonal and technical skills that help police officers complete their duties and responsibilities effectively. Here are several essential skills commonly used by police officers:

1. Active listening

Active listening refers to your ability to use nonverbal cues, such as head nodding, smiling, body position and small gestures to acknowledge that your attention is on the speaker. As a police officer, it's important to have active listening, as it may allow you to engage with members of the public and other law enforcement personnel effectively. It can also ensure that you notice important information or details to relay emergency response teams, detectives or legal teams in courts.

Related: What Are Active Listening Skills? (Definition and Examples)

2. Attention to detail

Attention to detail refers to your ability to identify minute details, correct errors and notice changing patterns in behaviour. As a police officer, it's important to pay attention to details because it can help you prevent criminal activity. It can also help you acquire potential evidence and identify the correct suspect or vehicle linked to a crime.

3. Persuasiveness

Persuasiveness is the ability to convince others about the right course of action. This occurs through excellent verbal communication strategies. As a police officer, it's important to use persuasiveness regularly to encourage the public to obey laws or follow instructions. It's also important to use persuasiveness to deescalate conflicts and prevent criminal activities.

4. Physical stamina

Physical stamina is the ability to walk or run long distances. It also refers to your ability to lift or carry heavy objects. As a police officer, it's important to have excellent physical stamina for chasing and retraining suspects, patrolling extensive areas by food and, when necessary, climbing over fences and other obstructions.

5. Critical thinking

Critical thinking refers to the ability to decide effectively within a short period. As a police officer, it's important to have excellent critical thinking skills. This is because you may require making quick decisions that affect the well-being or health of the members of the public.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definition and Examples

6. Community awareness

Community awareness represents the process by which an individual understands the surrounding community. This includes understanding crime rates, poverty levels, resident demographics and other factors that influence communities. When you have excellent community awareness, you can interact with community members effectively. It can also help you support local initiatives that benefit community members and ensure you understand the types of crime that happen in the area.

7. Interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication refers to the ability to adjust your communication language and strategies to connect with others and help them understand information. As a police officer, it's important to use interpersonal communication regularly to ensure clear communication between you and other police officers with different personalities. It's also important to apply interpersonal communication to help members of the community understand regulations and laws.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

8. First aid and CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid include a range of practices and skills that allow you to evaluate health issues, treat spinal injuries or administer life-saving CPR on individuals who may need it. As a police officer, you may require responding to emergency situations where a member of the public gets ill or injured, especially when an emergency response team hasn't been able to get to the scene yet. Thus, it's important to have standard knowledge to treat patients before the emergency response team or paramedics arrive.

9. Morality

Morality refers to your ability to live by a moral code and apply moral practices in your day-to-day life. As a police officer, it's important to have morality as it allows you to decide with good judgement. It can also ensure that you uphold the criminal justice initiatives at work and the broader community.

10. Empathy

Empathy refers to your ability to understand someone else's experiences and feelings. Being emphatic can help you understand other people's perspectives, improve your ability to connect with others and develop a wider view of the world. As a police officer, empathy is an important skill to have, no matter if you're speaking to a victim, suspect or someone with a mental health condition.

Related: Earn Respect With 7 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Work

11. Assertiveness

Assertiveness is the ability to demonstrate your authority and encourage those around you to complete a certain task. It allows you to profess and defend your decisions, ideas or claims in a calm but powerful manner. As a police officer, it's important to be assertive when speaking with suspects, enforcing laws or directing crowds of people.

12. Teamwork

Teamwork is a skill that allows you to work well with others to complete tasks. As a police officer, you may work with police officers you know or don't know on a daily basis. Your ability to take on a new role and adapt to a team environment can impact your ability to help the members of the community and apprehend suspects.

13. Courage

Courage refers to your ability to complete tasks that may be frightening or dangerous. If you have courage, you may be able to manage challenging situations. As a police officer, it's important to have the courage to help members of the public get safety in risky situations.

How to improve police officer skills

There are a variety of ways you can improve your skills as a police officer. Here are some strategic methods for improvement:

1. Volunteer at community events

As a police officer, a major part of your job includes serving the public and looking for ways to make communities a safe place to work or live. Likewise, you may engage with members of the public regularly to provide assistance and address issues. Volunteering at community programmes allows you to get to know those in your community and practise communicating with individuals of different backgrounds or professions.

2. Review legislations

Police officers enforce the country's laws. Thus, it's important to make an effort to have an in-depth understanding of them. This can help you boost your confidence and help members of the public develop their own understanding of the country's law.

3. Ask for feedback

If you currently work as a police officer, consider asking for feedback on your work performance from your partner and immediate superior. They can provide you with valuable insights into the areas you excel in and the areas you require improving. If you don't currently work as a police officer, consider asking for feedback from your loved ones, friends or current employer.

4. Enrol in online courses that target skills

You can access several courses online. These courses can help you learn more about police skills and how to improve them. Some of the skills you can learn from these online courses include prioritisation, verbal communication, decision-making and attention to detail skills.

5. Gain relevant experience in safety and security

Gaining relevant work experience can help you increase your chances of getting hired for a police officer position. If you don't currently work as a police officer, consider getting a job as a public safety officer or security guard. These jobs can help you expand your experience of working with the public, monitoring suspicious activities and solving problems.

Tips for highlighting police officer skills

Here's how to showcase your skills as a police officer when applying and interviewing for positions:

Highlight your skills on your CV and cover letter

When applying for a police officer position, consider highlighting your skills in your curriculum vitae and cover letter documents. This allows hiring managers to determine how you compare to their employment needs. To make sure you provide the right skills, you can create a skills section on your CV and evaluate the job description to select the qualities or skills you possess.

You can also highlight your skills by integrating them into your professional experience section. For instance, if you list teamwork as one of your skills, you can highlight it by saying: Collaborated with other officers in my unit to enforce alcohol policies in the downtown area. In addition, your cover letter provides a format where you can discuss your skills more in-depth.

Highlight your skills during your job interview

During police officer job interviews, employers want to evaluate the skills and qualifications that you could attribute to a police role. Make sure you review the skills section on your CV before your interview. This can help you develop examples if the hiring manager asks about them.

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