What General Duty Police Do
by Graham Maranda
Recently, I stumbled upon a report prepared by the NSW Auditor-General in 2000 titled 'Performance Audit -
Managing Injured Police - NSW Police'. It included an annexure of the 'Inherent requirements of a General
Duties police officer'.
This formal break-down provides a clear overview of what front line policing entails. I
suggest these 'inherent requirements' are consistent for all front line Australian police.
In preparing this article and reading through the 'inherent
requirements' summary, it took me back to the late 1970s when I was a young fit whipper snapper working the
night shift (11pm to 7.30am) on the main general duties truck (Ford F100 with prisoner cage) from the Waverley
Police Station (Eastern Suburbs, Sydney). I recall a particular night, mid-week, wet and windy as winter
was starting to set in.
Inclement weather combined with time of day would normally provide a relatively quiet shift, but
for some reason we had a busy workload. Starting at 11pm we hit the road running - job after job.
The crews at surrounding stations - Bondi, Rose Bay, Paddington and Randwick - were also having
a busy night. Maybe it was a full moon? Eventually, around 3am it seemed everyone was thankfully tucked
up in bed. Very little traffic remained, the police radio less and less intrusive, then quiet.
Goodie, chance to take meal break.
We ducked up to Bronte, just past the police station to the late-night hamburger
joint. The burger place was owned and operated by 'Henry', who we suspected had done a bit of jail time in
his younger days. He had a head fairly similar to that of a junk yard guard dog. Henry liked the Cops
and we liked him. We never ever got called to Henry's for any trouble - we think Henry always sorted his own
After getting our burgers, heading back to the station, the police radio crackled, 'Car 10/1
- motor vehicle accident - no person injured - Birrell and Newland Street'. Damn, bugger and
bummer..... We acknowledged, 'Car 10/1 - copy that - ETA 5 minutes.'
It was still wet, it was still windy and it was still dark, but it was my partner's turn to
investigate and take the accident report. So I managed to eat my burger while directing traffic. He or
she, (I can't remember which), eventually got to eat theirs - once it was cold and 40 odd minutes old.
So, here are the requirements:-
Administrative & General Requirements
- Undertake operational patrols, respond to situations to enforce laws and / or maintain
public order, exercise police powers, investigateincidents or offences, and prepare and present evidence in a
judicial or quasi-judicial setting.
- Manage a wide range of persons who are placed in care, detained in custody or require
assistance pending the arrival of qualified personnel. Utilise appropriate communication, practical and
physical skills in order to protect persons from harm or further casualty and to deal with
- Provide the public with service and support, utilise problem-solving techniques and adapt
communication strategies to meet client needs, stay abreast of current affairs, and foster a positive
organisational image in the community.
- Perform administrative duties in support of operational responsibilities; prepare forms,
correspondence, legal briefs of evidence and where required apply professional judgment.
- Apply discerning judgement in the application of police powers and use of appointments (e.g.
handcuffs, batons, capsicum spray and firearm).
- Stabilise and preserve the scene of accidents, emergencies, disasters or crime
- Assist victims and manage incidents involving significant conflict or emotional distress
(such as domestic violence, child abuse and SIDS).
- Undertake a range of traffic duty including safely stopping motor vehicles, point duty and
the management of traffic flow at the scenes of emergencies.
- Exercise authority and give directions, use coercive force when necessary, and use tolerance
and reasonable firmness and discretion.
- Collect evidence, identify suspects, write statements, compile briefs of evidence, present
evidence in court.
- Lawfully drive police vehicles safely in varying road, terrain and operational conditions.
Including the systematic, safe and efficient control of all vehicle functions; effective management of
hazardous situations; urgent duty driving and periphery observation skills whilst driving a motor
- Communicate in noisy environments, such as, use of police radio whilst siren is in operation
and speaking with members of public in licensed premises.
- Understand with clarity softly spoken instruction in face-to-face conversation and over the
radio or telephone.
- Adapt communication style to suit different situations.
- Read and comprehend written communication.
- Take notes and prepare comprehendible written reports.
- Use a computer to access or update information.
- Wear Harness Belt - weight on average 8-10 kg depending on size of torch and
- Physically restrain individuals; utilise self-defence techniques where
- Perform crowd control at community events or demonstrations.
- Walk long distances while performing beat duty or stand for lengthy periods on traffic
- Handcuff someone resisting arrest.
- Engage in self-defence.
- Withstand physical assault from another person.
- Physically restrain a person.
- Wrestle with a person.
- Safely handle a baton.
- Safely handle a firearm while on duty.
- Fire a handgun whilst on duty.
Climb stairs to ascend more than one story of a building.
Observation and Memory Skills
- Accurately discern, record and provide evidence of factors, such as colour, distances and
size etc, associated with the identification of suspects, offenders, vehicles etc.
- Provide and detail evidence in court relating to distances, colour and
descriptions when giving evidence in defended matters.
- Observation skills whilst on patrol - observe things at a distance and at
- An ability to maintain an awareness of what is occurring around you as you concentrate on
- An ability to take in information, analyse it, and then make and apply
decisions from that analysis.
- Gather and exchange information from and with the community; and use analytical and keyboard
skills, recording equipment and information systems to record, organise and analyse information.
- Hear and comprehend information without eye-view of the speaker.
- Long range visual acuity, short range visual acuity, colour vision.
- Memory for events, people, places etc.
- Memory for legislation and administrative procedures.
Resilience & Adaptability
- Perform shifts of up to 12 hours duration (or longer if overtime) day and night, any day of
- Cope with the climatic variables associated with outdoor duties.
- Adapt to regular shift change-over and protracted investigations not conducive to regular
- An ability to operate effectively in stressful and physically demanding
- Take precautions against infectious diseases and hazardous items.
- Cope with irregular meal and toilet breaks during a shift.Cope with
working in very hot or cold environments.
- Make decisions under pressure.
- Manage workload.
- Conflict resolution skills.
- High integrity standards.
- Problem solving skills.
- Interpersonal traits.
- Respect authority.
- Emotional stability.
- Resilience to stress.
- Composure in stressful situations.
© Graham Maranda