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As a law enforcement officer, you took an oath to protect and serve. This noble profession requires a continual commitment to yourself, your fellow officers, and your community to uphold that oath. This Spotlight on Safety topic examines factors that affect professional engagement from a law enforcement perspective. It demonstrates what it takes to be an extraordinary officer.

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You Are What You Repeatedly Do Poster

Law Enforcement Professionalism: Set the Standard. Others Will Follow.

Police officers can "be the change" they wish to see in the current relationships that they and their agencies have with their communities by understanding a very simple notion about professionalism and officer safety: Being a professional police officer in the 21st century requires commitment to yourself, your fellow officers, and your community.

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The posters below are available for you to print and post around the office.

Keep Learning! Keep Training!

The road to professional development never ends.

Statesman. Protector. Scholar.

A professional officer is a safer officer.

Professionalism Is a Choice

Are you actively engaged at work or going through the motions?

Leadership by Example

Age or rank do not stop you from being a leader.

Best of Your Ability

Are you doing everything you can and to the best of your ability?

You Are What You Repeatedly Do

Small choices make a big difference.

VALOR For Blue eLearning

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Professionalism in Law Enforcement

This webinar revisits the law enforcement oath of office and the commitment made, in order to gain a renewed understanding and appreciation of what it takes to stand as a capable and competent professional in the 21st century. Recorded , at p.m., ET.


What Is a Law Enforcement Professional?

Since the modern era of policing began nearly 200 years ago, law enforcement as a profession has been continually evolving.  Advancements have been made in the many aspects of policing, such as mobility, communications, and policing strategies, but the fundamental concepts of persons entering this profession have never changed.  Integrity, character, and a desire to safeguard the community must be in the heart of every individual who wears a badge.

Law enforcement is one of the few professions that require an oath of office as a matter of law.  We all took this oath—we made a solemn promise to faithfully and diligently carry out our duties and, to the best of our abilities, preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States and of the state in which we serve.  Do you still mean it today?  Are you doing your job to the best of your ability?

Think back.  Do you remember that day?  The day that you raised your hand?  The day that badge was pinned on your uniform?  Do you remember the feelings you had and the thoughts that went through your mind as all of your hard work and determination came to fruition?  A sense of noble pride, a sense of humility as you joined the ranks of the “thin blue line.”  When we took our oaths, we accepted a great responsibility.  We committed to carry out our duties to the best of our abilities.  What was your mind-set on that day that you said the words “to the best of my ability”?  You raised your hand in front of your family, friends, and fellow officers.  Do you remember those feelings?  Do you remember that pride?  Do you remember the promise that you made to carry out your duties to the best of your ability—which means striving to reach your potential through this profession—being the best that you can be?

Men and women join the ranks of law enforcement for various reasons.  Some join to make a difference, some to help others, and still others for the rewarding opportunities and daily challenges offered by a career in law enforcement.  Many of you would admit that you were “called” to this profession, while others would admit that you just needed a job.  There is a distinct difference between those of us who treat our commitments as merely jobs and those who treat the commitments as a profession.

Officers should treat law enforcement as a profession and strive to be lifelong learners.  Just as lawyers and doctors must keep up with new laws and medical advances, so too must officers stay knowledgeable about the many changes and advances in law enforcement.  Officers who maintain the lifelong-learning mind-set view continual training as a means to maintain and advance their skills, expertise, and safety awareness.  These officers are not just going through the motions, completing mandatory training hours—they are advancing their profession.  These officers not only apply current training and best practices, such as proper use of bullet-resistant vests, but promote these practices to other officers.  They see the necessity to stay current on interpretations of constitutional law, the adoption of new laws and the repeal of old laws, departmental policies, and community objectives; moreover, seasoned law enforcement professionals consider it their duty to mentor their younger counterparts.

Law enforcement professionals strive to meet their own high expectations and those of the community.  Every officer who takes the oath has a perception of what the job will entail and what kind of officer he or she will be, but the community also has a perception of a law enforcement officer’s job and how officers should fulfill their oaths.  Law enforcement professionals strive to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, whether observation comes from personal introspection or through the eyes of the community.

Are you, as a law enforcement officer, going through the motions and treating your profession as just a job?  Or are you a law enforcement professional?

To all law enforcement—to all in this noble profession—we thank you for all that you do to keep our communities safe.

Blue Courage

Blue Courage is a way of being, a philosophy that inspires one to embody the noblest of character and unquestioned devotion. It is to flourish in all aspects of life, to act with practical wisdom, to exude vitality, and to hearten human connections.

COPS Office

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation's state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Today's FBI is an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities that is staffed by a dedicated cadre of more than 30,000 agents, analysts, and other professionals who work around the clock and across the globe to protect the U.S. from terrorism, espionage, cyber attacks, and major criminal threats, and to provide its many partners with services, support, training, and leadership.

Improving Police: Principles of Leadership

The "Principles of Leadership" were bold and new to police officers at the time. Now, after more than 20 years have passed, these principles should guide police officers in our democracy.

Principles of Effective Law Enforcement Leadership

This FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin discusses how developing into an effective law enforcement leader is a continuous, personal learning process. Leadership is a career-long journey of self-discovery and learning from others. It involves subordinating personal interests for the greater good of others through self-giving and mentoring, developing and promoting those who work for us. It is a process of steadfastly working to fulfill the purpose of our organizations to develop effective law enforcement leaders capable of combating crime and protecting the innocent.

Toward a New Professionalism in Policing

This report offers the “New Professionalism” as a conceptual framework that can help chiefs, frontline police officers, and members of the public alike understand and shape the work of police departments today and in the years ahead. Even while it remains a work in progress, the "Toward a New Professionalism in Policing" can help police chiefs and commissioners keep their organizations focused on why they are doing what they do, what doing it better might look like, and how they can prioritize the many competing demands for their time and resources.

Law Enforcement Professionalism: Training Is the Key

This Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Law Enforcement Bulletin discusses how American law enforcement is professional, effective, efficient, and often, regarded as a model to follow worldwide. Some hold that a significant factor in the history of this professionalism is training, which imparts the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that form its foundation.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

Founded in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is dedicated to telling the story of American Law Enforcement and making it safer for those who serve.


Preparation is the foundation of success in any profession. The VALOR Officer Safety Mobile App is today’s law enforcement officers’ tool for success. This mobile app promotes mental and physical preparation to help officers successfully meet the needs of the communities they serve each day. The purpose of this officer safety app is to provide an easy-access tool for policing in the 21st century.
• Pre–Service Checklist
• Officer Safety Tips
• Your Oath of Office