Career Profile: Community Liaison Officer
What They Do
Though the job requirements of a community liaison officer may differ from environment to environment, most of these individuals are responsible for community policing for law enforcement agencies. Employing a private citizen to help law enforcement officers in their endeavors fosters a feeling of trust and community involvement.
Community liaison officers work with both police departments and neighborhoods to build relationships. Their day to day responsibilities may include:
- Answering questions from citizens concerning law enforcement events
- Seeking opinions of community members concerning police practices
- Identifying the important concerns of community members.
Community liaison officers must have great communication and problem solving skills since they are an important link between the law and citizens.
There are three main responsibilities of a community liaison officer:
- Crime prevention education: through community presentations, neighborhood watch groups and handing out prevention-related literature at community events
- Assisting investigations: interviewing witnesses, working with victims of domestic violence and interpreting for non-English speaking individuals
- Conflict resolution: using nonviolent methods to handle disputes, conflict resolution techniques and training and skills for the identification of the source of the issue or conflict
These professionals work as coordinators between agencies and communities. This may include performing safety duties, counseling services and making sure that fire and police departments have avenues of communication and logistical support within the community.
Many of these officers work specifically with the citizens of minority communities and neighborhoods since communication there is often strained. Environments in which a community liaison officer works include: courts, police departments, fire departments, schools and private sector companies. Community liaison officers who work for private companies and organizations are responsible for enhancing the public image of the company.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that social and community service managers are going to experience a 21 percent rate of growth between 2012 and 2022. Much of this growth is due to the growing immigrant population, as well as the aging population. However, it should be noted that community organizations, which rely on government funding, are experiencing budget cuts every year from state and local governments.
According to the BLS, professionals who work in the field of social and community service management make around $59,970 a year as a median income. Those who work for state and local government agencies (like police and fire departments) make $69,490. Most community liaison officers work full time.
Both sworn officers of the law and non-sworn officers can act as community liaisons. However, both kinds of liaisons require at least some law enforcement training. Some communities may require formal education. In this case, a college degree in a subject like criminal justice or social work is appropriate.
Bachelor’s programs in social work cover many subjects that directly relate to the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective community liaison officer. Because social work programs combine both field and academic work, graduates of these programs are prepared for both research and field positions. Those with an education based in social work fundamentals are generally advocates for social change and a more equitable society. In this case, being a community liaison may be a great position.