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Peace Officer vs Police Officer (The Differences Explained)

Peace Officer vs Police Officer (The Differences Explained)

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Brian Humenuk | Author | COPJOT Police Notebooks and Pens
By: Brian Humenuk    MS|CJA    COPJOT  
Published on August 1, 2023
Updated on July 13, 2024
⏱️  4 minute read


Hearing or seeing the term Peace Officer in 2024 instead of Police Officer can be confusing because society is very used to hearing the term Police.

Peace Officer is an old term from the west where there were Peacemakers in old western towns and counties. This evolved into Deputy Sheriff and Constables along with Marshals.

Police Officer or Law Enforcement Officer is a modern term that is intertwined with all of the preceding terms as their jobs were much of the same. 

Peacemakers, Constables, Deputy Sheriffs and Marshals were all sworn or commissioned personnel charged with the duty of providing services to their jurisdiction such as restoring peace amongst unruly people. 

A Marshal evolved into a Peace Officer under federal law and a Deputy Sheriff is most associated with counties and detention officers which separates them from city police officers.

In this article I am going to deep dive into Peace Officer vs Police Officer. I am going to answer commonly asked questions about peace officers here in the United States along with the qualities that make a good peace officer.

If you are new to COPJOT and me as an author please check out my other articles here at the blog index.


Be sure to read my next article >> 9 Examples of Law Enforcement for Better Understanding <<

9 examples of law enforcement for better understanding

The following gives you some insight into what is a Peace Officer. 

Is a Peace Officer the same as a Police Officer?

A Police Officer is essentially a Peace Officer and vise versa and both are sworn members of a police force. In some parts of the United States the term Peace Officer is more widely used. 

Police Officers or Peace Officers are charged with keeping the peace in many situations and this is the origin of the term.

For instance, Police Officers or Law Enforcement Officers respond to calls of disturbances or unruly gatherings and it is their job to restore the peace in the many ways in which they are trained.

>> Learn More: Want a more detailed explanation of what a police officer is and their job duties be sure to read my article >> The American COP [Duties, Responsibilities, and Job Description] <<

This can be by a multitude of of ways and outcomes including the arrest of an individual or individuals because Peace Officers have sworn power to arrest. 

As you have read so far you can understand that certain titles can mean a person employed by different agencies that will carry specific duties but all will normally include keeping the peace.

What are the Common Qualities that would Make a Good Peace Officer?

Character - Being of good sound moral character is a quality of a Peace Officer. It centers on the way a person thinks, feels, acts, and behaves both on and off duty.

Integrity - The quality of being honest, trustworthy and having strong moral principles.

Courage - Being able to put the needs of others before ones self. 

Knowledge - The ability to learn and retain information on federal, state and local laws as well as Constitutional law such as the 4th and 5th amendments.

>> Learn More: Be sure to read my article on what makes a great COP >> The Vital Skills and Qualities Every Good Police Officer Needs <<

Frequently Asked Questions about Peace Officers

Do Peace Officers have the Right of Arrest?

Yes, Peace Officers will have the right of arrest unless otherwise sworn.

An example of this may be a Peace Officer who is sworn in as an auxiliary officer, security officer, cadet or probationary officer and their job description is that of a traffic post or other non law enforcement duties. 

Public Safety Officers are most often associated with campus policing  and may or may not have to power of arrest or even be able to enforce the law. Their main job is to provide public safety and ensure safety code is met.

Do Peace Officers Carry a Gun?

Not all Peace Officers and Police Officers carry firearms. Some Peace Officers and Police Officers work for non governmental agencies or private companies where they may be sworn in to carry full arrest powers but may not carry firearms.

An example of this would be college, university and hospital police officers whom work for private institutions.

Do Peace Officers get paid?

Not all Peace Officers get paid for their service. Some Peace Officers, Reserve Deputies, and Police Officers serve as an auxiliary or to give back to their community. 

What is the Peace Officer Standards and Training?

You may hear the phrase Peace Officer Standards and Training or POST which means that it is a branch of state government, sometimes called a board, commission or unit, that establishes and oversees the minimum hiring and training standards for police officers.

POST also acts as a certification and decertification unit for statewide police officers as well as establishes agency accreditation standards.

Most states now have Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)

Do Peace Officers go to the Police Academy?

Now more than ever it is very important that Peace Officers and Police Officers are hired and trained under the Peace Officer Standards and Training POST umbrella of minimum hiring and training standards.

The ability to learn and understand criminal procedure including probable cause, criminal law, how to investigate crimes and make arrests.

>> Learn More: Are you interested in learning more about what police academy training may look like? I think you will really like my article >> This is What Police Academy Training is Like? (Pro Guide) <<

this is what police academy training is like

An academy trained peace officer will need to know about traffic investigations and how to submit charges to the court or district attorney.

Peace Officers will most likely also have to attend and complete yearly in-service training in order to be recertified. 

Do Peace Officers Carry Handcuffs?

If a Peace Officer is sworn with powers of arrest chances are they will be carrying handcuffs.

What kind of Equipment do Peace Officers Carry?

The equipment that a Peace Officer carries on them will be determined by his or her agencies policies and procedures. This can include handcuffs, OC, baton or ASP, night stick, portable radio, electronic weapon, tourniquet, firearm, and possibly more or less.

About the Author

Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.

Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption. 

You can find out more about Brian and the COPJOT story on the ABOUT US page.

Affiliate Disclosure

COPJOT is supported by its audience. If you make a purchase through links on this site I may earn a small affiliate commission. Enough to buy myself a small coffee and I want to thank you in advance. 

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