Career Profile: First-Line Supervisor of Police and Detectives

What They Do

First-line supervisors of police and detectives are responsible for the supervision and coordination of activities of a police force. First-line supervisors include:

  • Chief of Police
  • Detective Sergeant
  • Lieutenant
  • Patrol or Police Sergeant
  • Police Captain
  • Police Chief
  • Shift Commander

Their daily responsibilities include helping to coordinate other members of the police staff to investigate criminal cases and to ensure that all procedures are conducted according to codes, laws and regulations. They provide guidance and instruction to those of lower rank. First-line supervisors directly supervise most of the other members of the police force, which means that they must adhere to their own job responsibilities in order to set an example for other officers.

The main tasks of a front-line supervisor may include office and administrative duties like maintaining logs and preparing reports, as well as the direct preparation, handling and maintenance of records for the department. Leadership responsibilities include explaining operations and regulations to subordinates. An understanding of the law and criminal justice is important for first-line supervisors because they are often asked to work with court personnel, officials and lawyers.

Career Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of police and detectives will grow 4 percent by 2024. This is a slower rate than the average for all occupations in the United States. Though public safety is a continuous need, it does not necessarily mean that there is always high demand. Despite the obvious dangers of working as a police officer or a first-line supervisor, there is not a lot of turnover within the police force in general.

The best job prospects are given to those who have earned a bachelor’s degree and have law enforcement or military experience. Those who speak at least one other language (Spanish, for example) are also given more opportunity. Police department budgets depend on government spending, so the number of job opportunities can vary according to location, crime rate and other influences.

Salary Potential

According to O*Net, the average salary for a first-line supervisor of police or detectives is $82,090 a year. Those who work in local or state law enforcement make $83,370 and $87,770 respectively. Those who work for the federal government make upwards of $117,830. However, it should be noted that federal jobs often require more education, responsibility and professional experience.

Education Required

The minimum requirement for a position in the police force is a high school diploma. However, because first-line supervisors are considered administrative positions, then higher academic achievement is often a must. A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, for example, is the perfect program to prepare police officers and detectives for positions that require more responsibility.