About Ranks of the Police Force
- The vast majority of the members of any police force are street level police officers. These are the men and women who do most of the actual keeping of the peace. They go by many names including officer, deputy and constable. Since they are the lowest rank on a police force they usually do not wear insignia. Their uniform without insignia identifies them as police officers.
- Officers report to supervisors who are usually called sergeants. They are designated by three chevrons on their sleeves. Every police station has a sergeant on duty for every shift. When a situation requires a supervisor's decision, the sergeant is called. Some larger departments also has corporals who have two chevrons on their sleeves. They supervise smaller groups of officers and report to sergeants.
- Detectives fulfill a different function in a police department. They are investigators who solve cases in a specific area. Examples are: homicide, narcotics, vice and juvenile cases. Detectives usually do not wear uniforms. They are not subject to the same command structure as typical police officers. They report to their own supervisors within the detective ranks.
- A police lieutenant wears an insignia of a single silver bar. Lieutenants supervise sergeants and are often in charge of a police station, a watch shift or department. Detectives report to their own lieutenants. Some smaller police forces do not have lieutenants since their size does not require this extra layer of management.
- Police captains are senior command officers with a great deal of responsibility. They wear insignia of two connected silver bars. Captains supervise lieutenants and sergeants. They usually command very large police stations or divisions. In some smaller police forces they can be second in command to the chief of police.
- On a very large police force, there are several more layers of senior management. They supervise increasingly larger divisions of police manpower. Some police forces have majors who wear insignia of a bronze oak leaf, lieutenant colonels who wear insignia of a silver oak leaf and colonels who wear insignia of an eagle. On some police forces they are called inspectors or commanders.
- Every police force has a single leader who is the top cop. They go by titles like chief, sheriff and commissioner. Some of them wear uniforms while others do not. When they are in uniform, they wear insignia with stars. On a very large police force the chief might wear four stars while the leader of a small department might wear one. A police force in a big city requires many top leaders. There may be several deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs who wear one, two or three stars to signify their rank.