Police officers are trained for and assigned to different methods of patrols to limit or eliminate crime, incidents and accidents. Factors that are considered in the types of patrols deployed are the size of the area, cost, officer safety and levels of existing security.

Community Patrols

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Community patrol officers have the responsibility of protecting a specific section of a city, usually a residential area. They are often well-known to residents and are extremely familiar with landmarks, schools and parks. The patrols can be a combination of foot, vehicle, bicycle or horseback routes and a regular schedule of officers rotate shifts to provide levels of safety, security and comfort to area residents. The officers also may check on areas where crowds gather, such as high school football games, street dances, block parties and other community gatherings.

Random Patrols

Random patrols are police patrols who appear sporadically and unexpectedly in certain areas, usually business districts or commercial areas, to provide sudden but visible surveillance at unpredictable hours. They can be a deterrent to criminals as the appearance of police is completely random; their main law enforcement weapon is the element of surprise. For example, if a business has been broken into several times, a random patrol officer may visit that particular building unexpectedly throughout her shift to deter criminals or to catch them in the act.

Strategic Patrols

Strategic patrols are patrols that are focused on a specific area where crime has been at an extremely high level or where subversive or unusual activity is expected to occur. These patrols may be based on history, tips from informants or inside information. Police officers on these patrols would be expected to be armed with access to backup if the occasion demands it. Helicopter patrols are good examples of strategic patrols. They are called on for a specific incident, such as the hunt for a fugitive or a search for a lost child.

Patrol Effectiveness

No matter what the method of officer patrols used in a particular area, the ultimate goal of police officers is to protect and serve. The use of specially trained patrol officers on different types of patrols for specific sections of a city will provide more effective coverage where patrols are needed the most.