Chiefs of Police occupy the higher ranks in a Police Force. They share some of the basic responsibilities that Police Officers have, but given their superior rank, they are required to perform some extra, and more complicated, tasks. Police Officers focus their work on protecting lives and property, whereas Chiefs of Police focus their work on solving crimes by collecting data, evidence, and interviewing witnesses and other people involved in a case.
The title of Chief of Police can sometimes be mistaken or confused with Police Detective. In the ranking within a Police Force, Chiefs of Police are higher up than Police Detectives. The difference is that the former takes on more administrative functions than the latter. The job of a Chief of Police is more office based than that of a Police Detective, whose work is more field oriented.
Chiefs of Police do the majority of the investigative work in solving a crime. They don’t only work with violent crimes, they also investigate financial frauds, theft, and smuggling of illegal substances. They use a wide range of specialized tools and systems to collect and analyze data. Their job also includes a great deal of paperwork and responsibilities. Chiefs of Police work closely with courts of law and must always adhere to provincial and federal regulations when performing their duties.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Chiefs of Police are required to complete.
- Examining crime scenes:
- Securing the bodies of deceased victims for forensic examination purposes;
- collecting and classifying evidence;
- interviewing witnesses and bystanders; and
- documenting all findings.
- Analyzing evidence:
- Studying evidence from the crime scene to uncover clues;
- processing all evidence according to legal regulations;
- examining photographs of the crime scene, collected objects, ballistic reports, and other pieces of evidence; and
- documenting all information gathered for examination.
- Reading reports based on forensic examinations on the bodies of the victims:
- Analyzing cause of death;
- checking for signs of struggle;
- checking for alterations to the body after death; and
- examining the body for clues or evidence.
- Investigating people related to the case:
- Interviewing suspects to obtain evidence or alibies;
- running background checks on suspects;
- questioning suspects to validate information;
- interviewing people close to subjects to find more information; and
- filling reports based on findings.
- Investigating the residences and workplaces of suspects or people related to the crime:
- Obtaining a search warrant from a Judge to conduct investigations in private properties; and
- collecting evidence from private properties.
- Arresting suspects and detaining them if enough evidence is collected:
- Preparing charges to arrest suspect; and
- obtaining arrest warrants.
- Using a wide range of lethal and non-lethal weapons (e.g. handguns, shotguns, batons, and pepper spray).
- Attending court and providing legal testimony when necessary.
- Collecting evidence and gathering information for cases.
- Running forensic analysis on the victims’ bodies and on the evidence found.
- Interviewing suspects, witnesses, and other people related to the case.
- Running background checks on victims, suspects, and other people related to the case.
- Tracing activities of victims and suspects.
- Conducting warranted searches of private properties.
- Documenting and reporting all findings.
- Analyzing forensic reports.
- Arresting suspects.
- Presenting evidence in a court of law and providing testimony.
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- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Being able to interview suspects, witnesses, and other people related to a crime;
- being capable of comforting the relatives of the victim; and
- being capable of obtaining the truth from unwilling suspects or witnesses.
- Outstanding problem-solving skills:
- Being able to promptly and accurately assess situations;
- possessing a methodic and creative approach to problem solving;
- being capable of finding evidence where least expected;
- staying calm and focused in chaotic and potentially violent situations; and
- acting according to protocol.
- Highly analytical:
- Possessing strong observational skills;
- being able to analyze crime scenes and extract evidence;
- capable of validating alibies and testimonies; and
- analyzing all findings of an investigation to uncover the truth.
- Excellent physical condition:
- Having great overall health;
- being in good shape;
- possessing acute senses of hearing and vision; and
- having high levels of stamina.
- Exceptional weapon skills:
- Being proficient in the use of non-lethal and lethal weapons.
- Excellent driving skills:
- Driving different types of vehicles;
- pursuing escaping criminals when needed; and
- having an understanding of basic mechanics.
- Good computer skills:
- Using computer programs to analyze and document evidence; and
- writing extensive reports of investigations.
- Outstanding levels of integrity, morality, honesty, and responsibility:
- Handling sensitive or confidential information.
The most important requirement for a Chief of Police is experience. Most of them start out joining the Police Force as Constables, and through experience, years of it, as well as merits and achievements, they can scale up the hierarchy to reach the rank of Chief.
The average time to obtain a promotion to Police Detective is 5 to 10 years of working as a Police Officer, then it’s usually another 10 to get to Chief of Police. However, the amount of years of experience necessary to become a Chief of Police is not standardized as it can vary from one precinct to another. Promotions are awarded according to the judgement of the Police Chief or other authorities, based mostly on the merits of each Officer. Becoming a Chief of Police shows that an Officer has gained enough experience and is regarded as worthy and skilled enough to handle the extra responsibilities that come with the title.
The working hours of a Chief of Police are in many ways similar to those of a Police Officer. While Chiefs of Police rarely have to work during nighttime hours, they are required to remain on-call should any emergency arise.
Chiefs of Police must always keep their documentation and certifications up-to-date. Given their status as Law Enforcing agents, they possess special permits to carry and use firearms, these permits expire and must always be renewed along with the proper physical and psychological evaluations. They are also expected to drive and operate different vehicles, so having a valid driver’s licence is essential.