What does a Code Enforcement Officer do?

Maggie Worth

A code enforcement officer is responsible for evaluating private properties and public grounds against local codes, answering citizen questions about the codes, and issuing citations for code violations. The officer may or may not be a certified police or peace officer. Code enforcement officers work to maintain an attractive, safe community, which helps improves both property values and the quality of life of those in the community.

Code enforcement officers may handle cases of unsightly garbage build-up.
Code enforcement officers may handle cases of unsightly garbage build-up.

Job duties for such officers can vary dramatically from community to community. Some respond primarily to reports about unsightly lawns, excess signage, nuisance animals, and illegal parking. Others also verify business permits, condemn unsafe buildings, or enforce zoning regulations. Localities that do not staff building inspectors may use code enforcement officers to offer construction planning and inspection services. In general, a code enforcement officer job description might include performing field inspections, responding to citizen reports, evaluating new construction or renovation projects, and responding to questions from the public.

Code enforcement officers may need to take on cases that law enforcement are too busy to handle.
Code enforcement officers may need to take on cases that law enforcement are too busy to handle.

Education requirements for these positions vary based on the assigned job duties. Some jurisdictions stipulate that any employee that is authorized to issue citations must attend and graduate from an authorized police training program. Others give preference to candidates with a degree in political science. Those that assign planning duties to code enforcement officers may require education in planning or engineering.

A code enforcement officer may or may not receive training on how to handle handguns.
A code enforcement officer may or may not receive training on how to handle handguns.

Another factor that changes based on the locality is certification. Some jurisdictions recognize certifications while others do not. Of those that do, some require it, while others merely prefer it. In addition, some communities offer levels of certification that correspond with levels of employment.

Reporting structure can also vary. These professionals are most often part of the law enforcement department, but may also be a part of the planning and zoning department or, occasionally, a member of the city manager's office. Code enforcement officers are usually appointed or hired, and are generally not elected officials.

The hiring of these officers has become popular with local governments for several reasons. A code enforcement officer is typically focused on handling code violations which, while important, are often neglected because law enforcement personnel are too busy handling more serious offenses. The presence of such officers also serves to reduce citizen complaints. In addition, because most officers usually do not receive danger pay, carry lethal weapons, or have the power of arrest, their salaries, medical insurance, and liability insurance are often less expensive than for regular police officers.

Some jurisdictions stipulate that code enforcement officers attend and graduate from an authorized police training program.
Some jurisdictions stipulate that code enforcement officers attend and graduate from an authorized police training program.

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Discussion Comments

WildHooper

I think your right that power can corrupt some people. But I also believe that many people (if not most) are insightful enough to handle it. Most of today's world leaders became world leaders by earning peoples respect and admiration. I have faith that this respect could not have been misplaced as much as some conspiracy nuts would have you believe. And I would also like to add that the law code officers in my neighborhood are some of the most polite and respectful people I know. A little bit of advice for you @Steamland, if you go looking for trouble, you are usually going to find it.

Steamland

I understand that a lot of what a law-code enforcement officer does involves things that the police just don't have time for. However some of these people are the most ignorant, power tripping fascists I have ever met. It makes you wonder, if the little bit of power that goes with this job can go to someone's head, how corrupted and power hungry must some of the worlds leaders be.

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