sworn officer | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction / Policing

A sworn officer is a bona fide law enforcement officer with arrest powers; so-called because such officers are required to take an oath of office that includes an oath to defend the Constitution.

A sworn officer is a law enforcement official who has the authority to carry out the law and maintain public order. The term “sworn” refers to the fact that these officers are required to take an oath of office, which typically includes a commitment to uphold the laws of their jurisdiction, protect citizens from harm, and support the Constitution of the United States.

Sworn officers are distinguished from non-sworn personnel, such as civilian employees, who work in administrative or support roles within law enforcement agencies. The distinction between sworn and non-sworn personnel is important, as it relates to the authority granted to these officers in carrying out their duties. Sworn officers have the power to make arrests, use force when necessary, and carry firearms, while non-sworn personnel typically do not have such powers.

Sworn officers may work for various types of law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, sheriff’s offices, state police agencies, and federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI or ATF. They may also work in specialized units, such as SWAT teams or K-9 units.

The process of becoming a sworn officer typically involves a rigorous selection process that includes background checks, physical fitness tests, and psychological evaluations. Once accepted into a law enforcement agency, new officers are required to undergo extensive training, which may include classroom instruction, physical conditioning, firearms training, and on-the-job training.

The duties of a sworn officer can vary depending on the specific agency and their role within it. Some officers may spend most of their time patrolling a particular area, responding to calls for service, and conducting investigations into criminal activity. Others may work in specialized units, such as narcotics or gang units, or may be assigned to high-profile events, such as political rallies or large public gatherings.

In addition to their law enforcement duties, sworn officers are also responsible for upholding the rights of citizens and ensuring that they are treated fairly and with respect. This includes adhering to strict standards of conduct, such as avoiding discriminatory behavior, using force only when necessary, and maintaining a professional demeanor at all times.


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Last Modified: 04/10/2023


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