What is the most important role of a police officer?
The most important role, oddly enough, is to not play a role! That is, a policeman is an “officer of the law,” not a hero or a political climber, but an enforcer of the “law,” and as such, his or her responsibility lies in enforcing the law – the legislature makes the law, and the judicial system decides the proper penalty for breaking the law, but the policeman’s “role” is to recognize when a law has been broken, and to bring the wrongdoer to the judicial system. It is not the policeman’s place to prejudge or to select who among the lawbreakers should be brought to justice, but to apprehend the alleged lawbreaker. All other duties – public image, protective, preventive, etc. – are secondary. Too often, a human being given the officer status thinks the title gives him a “role” to play out in society. While this may be the public’s perception, the officer himself/herself must avoid confusing this perception with the actual job description and the powers that accompany the title.