What does a Police Sergeant do?

Ryan Russell

A police sergeant is responsible for monitoring and training subordinate police officers. This individual makes sure that legal ordinances are applied properly across a range of situations. The sergeant enforces policies and guidelines for all the law enforcement duties for which his or her unit is responsible. If a police officer commits a wrongdoing under the police sergeant's watch, then it is the sergeant's job to recommend appropriate disciplinary action.

A police sergeant may be responsible for the interrogation of suspects.
A police sergeant may be responsible for the interrogation of suspects.

An individual who undertakes the role of police sergeant assists in the development of enforcement policies and tactics. He often interacts with the community by attending local gatherings and outreach meetings. A good communication channel must be established for residents to air their concerns with the police department and provide input. A quality sergeant puts a lot of time and effort into establishing trust and understanding with the citizens of his jurisdiction.

Activities at a crime scene are coordinated by the police sergeant.
Activities at a crime scene are coordinated by the police sergeant.

The police sergeant acts as an intermediary between upper management and lower-level officers. He is responsible for maintaining contact with other law enforcement agencies when coordinated efforts are required. It is the role of this individual to assign officers to necessary positions while making sure that equipment and workload are properly distributed. He is also responsible for handling and documenting incoming complaints.

One duty of a police sergeant is to testify in court, when necessary.
One duty of a police sergeant is to testify in court, when necessary.

The activities at a crime scene are coordinated by the police sergeant. When a crime takes place, the sergeant can apprehend the suspect, or he can merely direct the apprehension procedure. This individual often interviews various people connected to a crime, including suspects, witnesses, and victims. He is responsible for interpreting the laws on proper arrest and interrogation of suspects. If laws are not followed accordingly by one of the officers, the sergeant bears at least partial responsibility.

Police sergeants may help maintain vehicles.
Police sergeants may help maintain vehicles.

The police sergeant must write thorough and concise reports for any number of law enforcement-related tasks. He is also responsible for reading reports pertaining to ongoing investigations. This individual must have the ability to communicate well with people of many different backgrounds, both those employed by the police department and residents of the community. In certain cases, a sergeant may be called upon to testify in court and provide pertinent information on an investigation.

A police sergeant usually served for a number of years as a regular police officer before becoming a sergeant. This is essential, as he must have the trust and respect of the subordinate officers in the department. A sergeant is always expected to serve and protect the community while maintaining the highest level of professional integrity.

A police sergeant must enforce policies and guidelines, as well as monitor and train subordinate officers.
A police sergeant must enforce policies and guidelines, as well as monitor and train subordinate officers.

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Discussion Comments


@ZsaZsa56 - I agree and I think that people that enter law enforcement have a strong sense of justice and the job gives them a huge adrenaline rush because they know that they took a dangerous criminal off the streets.

That probably gives the police officer strength and courage to pursue this dangerous line of work. I think that a police sergeant must feel this even more because he has been in the field longer.

Performing a forensic science crime scene investigation allows the police sergeant to get in front of a case and they know that the victim’s family is really counting on them to catch the perpetrator.

After working in a highly charged environment like this, I can totally understand why a police sergeant or any police officer for that matter could not take a desk job. They would probably be bored to death because the whole motivation for them to pursue this line of work is gone.


@ZsaZsa56- I have known other retired law enforcement officers who had similar things to say about changing from being in the field to office work, or other changes. It is an active job, and the people who pursue it are generally very strong-willed, from what I have seen. It would be terrible to suddenly be told you can no longer do the job the same way.


My neighbor was a police sergeant for a number of years. About 7 years ago he was at a convenience store that was robbed. He was in his civilian clothes but he was carrying his gun at the time. He confronted the robber and ended up getting shot in the leg. He also shot the robber who is now in jail.

My neighbor was mostly fine but his wound left him with a really pronounced limp. He was already a sergeant and not out on the streets much but his injury prevented him from ever entering the field. He didn't like the sound of this, of being consigned to being a permanent desk jockey, so he retired. Now he fixes outboard motors in his garage. It seems like kind of an extreme decision but he tells me it is the right one. He says a cop should never feel like he can't go into action when people need help. That makes sense to me.


Being a police sergeant is really a tough job because you have to act as a liaison between two groups that often don't get along very well.

Cops are not that different from other people. They don't like the higher ups in the same way that a factory worker doesn't like the people in the board room. Cops often don't think too highly of the chief or the board of commissioners. Of course they respect them, but there is a fair amount of grumbling and lewd message scribbled in the men's room.

It is the sergeant's job to act as a go between for these two groups and often the sergeant has to put up with the wrath of the officers when an unpopular decision goes down. At the same time they have to be respectful and helpful to the officers above them. It is the classic diplomats dilemma. People might think of sergeants as grizzled old guys who sit behind desks sipping coffee all day but they really have to have some special skills.


My dad was a police sergeant with the Kansas City Police Department for most of his career. He rose fast and then didn't move much higher than that. He seemed to like his job though. It was a mix of desk work and administration with occasional instances of traditional beat cop work. He did go out on calls occasionally and was called in during several large police actions. I think he liked it, liked all the different responsibilities and all the people he got to interact with. His uniform is still hanging up in the living room.

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