What Is a Roving Officer?

Roving officers work for police departments and security companies. They do the same kinds of job as other officers, but they do not have a static base. A roving officer will patrol a designated area for the length of time they are on shift. Their job involves a mix of deterring crime by being visible and spotting incidents as, or even before, they happen. Some law enforcement agencies also use local volunteers as community roving officers.

Understanding Roving Patrols

Officers on roving patrol or roving guard do not stay in one location or at a base, and will patrol a specific geographical area. This is common practice with law enforcement agencies and security companies. The goals are to increase safety and deter crime by being visible on the streets and to deal with local problems as they happen, rather than reacting to them after they have been reported. Officers may patrol alone or with a partner, and they may travel on foot, in cars or on bicycles.

Roving Police Officers

Most police departments run squad cars on roving patrols as a matter of course; others also use roving officers for special events and initiatives. This may be in response to an increase in a type of crime or to increased problems in a particular location. So, for example, Saucon Source reports that the Pennsylvania police executed a DUI campaign with roving patrols over a set period to try and reduce drunk-driving incidents. Roving officers also patrol during events and holiday periods where there is an anticipated increase in crime.

Volunteer Roving Patrols

Some police departments use volunteers to help build community roving initiatives. According to the City of Lighthouse Point, the Lighthouse Point Police Department in Florida, for example, runs Citizen Roving Patrols. Local residents work as roving officers in specially marked cruisers. They have no law enforcement authority, but the program helps reduce crime. Citizen patrols in other areas take on similar roles; some also walk beats, monitor traffic and deal with parking enforcement.

Roving Security Officers

Security officers also take on roving roles. For example, mall and building security guards may make regular patrols around designated areas as part of their responsibilities. Businesses without in-house security staff also use security companies to watch over their offices at night and during weekends and holidays to protect against vandalism, theft and other crimes. Security companies often have a number of roving officers on patrol monitoring a variety of businesses and buildings.

Skills and Qualifications

Police officers enroll with law enforcement agencies and must meet their individual enrolment procedures. Volunteers who work with police departments will have to meet the selection criteria set by the department. Security officers usually need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, although some employers require a higher level of education. This role is often popular with people who have a law enforcement background. All roving officers need good communication, observation and people management skills. You often need to make quick decisions and must be able to cope with emergency situations. Roles also require a certain standard of physical fitness.