Job Description for a Police Chief

by Linda Ray

    Police chiefs are in charge of the operation of police departments. Their main job is to make sure that the department they head runs properly and carries out its mission. Department sizes and functions can vary greatly, and as a result, so can the responsibilities of the chief of police. However, some features are common to all police chief jobs.

    First and foremost, a chief of police is in charge of a staff of officers. You are in charge of screening and hiring your team. Monitoring the work of the team by offering incentives, rewards, criticism and guidance where appropriate are all in the domain of the chief of police. The chief of police is responsible for the conduct of the officers, making sure that everyone understands their obligations and carries them out to an acceptable standard. The chief oversees payroll and conflict resolution, and manages the personalities of the team. He delegates responsibilities and cases in an efficient and responsible manner.

    The police chief is in charge of managing the budget of the department. Police departments are expected to carry out their duties using a set amount of public funds. Funding may vary from year to year, and it is your responsibility to develop a lean and functional budget. The community that your department represents will expect the best possible results for the least possible amount of funding. This means making tough decisions on staffing and allocating resources for equipment, training and staff levels. The police chief is also typically in charge of delegating funds and making arrangements for large departmentwide purchases.

    Many of the day-to-day operations of a police department go on automatically, without the participation of the chief of police. There is no need for the chief to know about every traffic violation, for example. However, certain cases may merit more attention than others, and the chief of police should actively participate in larger issues. For example, if a police department is combating a local gang violence problem, it is the responsibility of the chief of police to be involved in the planning and implementation of strategies to deal with this situation.

    Police departments are funded by the public through taxes, and their main obligation is to protect and serve that same public. Communication between the police department and the public is crucial to maintain an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. The chief of police often is the spokesperson for the department, providing the link between the department and the public.

    About the Author

    Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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