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This is it. The backbone. The front line. The first responders. Without patrol, law enforcement as we know it would not exist. These are the guys you generally see driving around in marked squad cars wearing uniforms.


Patrol works four ten-hour shifts per work week. There are four different shifts available for officers to work. First watch is 22:00 to 08:00, second watch is 06:00 to 16:00, third watch is 12:00 to 22:00, and fourth watch is 16:00 to 02:00. Days off vary from Friday, Saturday, Sunday to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Officers bid for their shift and days off once a year. There are also several take-home squad cars to be claimed (also by seniority). The cars are spread out throughout the different platoons so that everyone has a chance to get one.
The job description of a patrol officer is potentially more diverse than that of any other job in existence. The patrol officer routinely encounters situations such as burglaries, robberies, prowlers, shootings, sexual assaults, physical assaults, kidnappings, children locked in cars, forgeries, identity thefts, building searches, stolen cars, family violence, traffic direction, child abuse, noise complaints, littering, traffic accidents, intoxicated drivers, lost children, car chases, parking violations, traffic violations, and stranded motorists just to name a few. Of course, each of those listed scenarios, along with any of the infinite number of unlisted ones, are subject to a likewise infinite possibility of variation. Variables that could affect any of these situations include, but are certainly not limited to, the presence of weapons, the suspect's/victim's mental state, the suspect's/victim's physical state, traffic conditions, weather conditions, time of day/night, or immediate surroundings (crowd, etc). All of these situations must be resolved quickly and decisively all the while keeping safety foremost in mind.

You can essentially take the scenarios a patrol officer encounters and break them into two basic categories: In-progress and delayed.

In-Progress Situations

If the offense or situation is occurring in the officer's presence, he/she must resolve it then. This often entails entering a chaotic atmosphere, gaining control, and reducing the chaos to a manageable, safe level. The officer must identify suspects, witnesses, and complainants, listen to all their stories, and, after weighing the available physical evidence with what he/she has been told, make an informed decision about how best to resolve the problem. This could result in arresting one or more people, issuing citations, taking a report, or simply dispersing the involved parties.

Delayed Situations

If the offense has already occurred, and is of a delayed nature, the officer assumes the role of a data gatherer. He or she must collect all of the applicable information to be passed on to investigators (CID). This information includes identifying information of victims, witnesses, and suspects, physical descriptions, identifying vehicular information, and the story of what took place (of which the officer will often receive multiple versions).

Most of the above text refers to reactionary policing. Self-initiated policing is another category we haven't even touched on. But we'll save that, along with penal code, transportation code, health and safety code, tactics, traffic stops, building searches, code of criminal procedure, and everything else, for the academy.

This short narrative is not meant to be a complete summary of the patrol officer's job description. Rather, it is a broad sampling of what could be encountered and is intended to give you an idea of how diverse this job really is.

Sound overwhelming? Honestly, it is challenging. Some times more than others. But with the first class training, state of the art equipment, and support network of back-up officers and public safety dispatchers at the Mesquite Police Department, you will soon find yourself managing extreme situations like you never thought possible.