Patrol is typically interrupted by radio calls or requests for service, which direct police to a specific place to deal with whatever the conditions are. They return to patrol until the call is completed, which might take anywhere from 10 minutes to many hours.
Cops use a variety of techniques to determine where to go next. Sometimes they're given a map with areas color-coded to indicate high and low crime rates, but more often they rely on their experience and instincts to decide where to go next. When patrolling alone, they usually will stop at multiple locations to investigate complaints or check out potential crime scenes.
Police departments use different strategies to assign patrols. Some cities have divisions within their forces that work together on patrols, while others have officers drive around in general orders districts (GODs) or specialty units. For example, an officer could be assigned to patrol downtown during night time hours when there's likely to be more criminal activity. The officer would then report back to headquarters on what he saw and any suspects he stopped.
Cities also use surveillance technology to help officers make effective patrols. Police cars commonly carry radar guns that measure vehicle speeds; cameras that can read license plates and identify registered owners; and microphones that listen for suspicious noises or conversations. Officers can also use their experiences to determine how best to cover each area they patrol.
Uniformed police officers are responsible for general law enforcement activities such as patrolling on a regular basis and responding to calls for help. They spend a lot of time answering phones and processing paperwork. Patrol officers don't usually make arrests, but they do issue citations and warnings. They may also have authority to search people or vehicles without a warrant.
Uniformed officers work in all types of departments including municipal, county, state, and federal. Some receive special training to perform certain duties such as military veterans who work as police officers after serving in the armed forces.
Those who work as patrol officers typically begin their employment with an agency as detectives or investigators. The progression to that role usually requires several years of service. When new cases come in, detectives work them into existing investigations or start new ones. Some detectives are assigned to patrols at first because there's no room in the department for both detectives and officers on patrols.
Patrol officers need to be able to think on their feet and make decisions quickly under pressure sometimes when there's not much information available. They must also maintain accurate records of their interactions with citizens and be able to explain their actions if questioned by a supervisor or prosecutor.
Uniformed officers work varied schedules depending on the agency they work for.
Three key functions are often used to assess the efficacy of patrol activities within a department. Responding to demands for help, discouraging crime with a visible police presence, and examining suspicious circumstances are all examples. The first function is accomplished by officers responding to calls for assistance.
The second function is accomplished by officers making community-wide arrests or seizing illicit drugs during drug raids. This shows that the police are not only willing but able to make an impact in reducing crime rates.
The third function is accomplished by officers performing traffic stops or other investigations of questionable vehicles or individuals. This can reveal important information about criminal activity and potential threats to public safety.
Patrols can also be effective tools for officers to gain experience. For example, they could be assigned to work with specific teams to learn more about crime scene photography or interviewing suspects.
Finally, patrols can be useful for training new officers or providing routine duties for experienced officers who may want to spend time working on other aspects of their careers.
In conclusion, patrols can be effective at reducing crime rates by making it obvious to would-be criminals that the police are present and capable of taking action.