Peace Officer vs Police Officer

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: December 12, 2022  •  6 min read  •  Criminal Justice
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If you’re considering a career in law enforcement, you might want to know the differences and similarities between peace officers and police officers. There are many misconceptions when it comes to the career of a peace officer. Most people don’t know exactly what this type of career will include.

While it’s common for people to understand what a police officer is, it’s not so common for a peace officer. It’s easy to assume a peace officer isn’t a police officer, but this isn’t exactly true. Before you make your career decision, you should know a bit more about being a peace officer or a police officer.

Peace Officer vs Police Officer

What is a Peace Officer?

According to, the term “Peace Officer” will vary from one state to another, but commonly means a position that carries a badge, has the power to arrest and also carries a firearm.

Other definitions include any person that has the authority to enforce laws in a state or jurisdiction. Anybody with legislative authority that has been sworn in has the power to arrest, and can push for criminal persecution, may be considered a peace officer. Even police officers are known as peace officers, but not all peace officers are police officers.

What is a Police Officer?

According to, a police officer is simply “a member of a police force”. This is a pretty simple definition, but it fits since a police officer has to be a part of the police force.

Peace Officer vs Police Officer: Main Difference

The difference between a peace officer and a police officer is what each term refers to. A police officer must be a member of the police force. However, a peace officer can be a member of the police force, but they don’t have to be.

The differences end there but do continue on an individual career basis. Depending on the type of peace officer you become, there might be even more glaring differences. For example, if you become an arson investigator, you are a peace officer. This position is very different from a police officer.

Careers Considered to be a Peace Officer

Since the definition of a peace officer is rather broad, there are many different careers that fit this description. Some of the most common types of peace officers include:

While it might seem like security guards should be on the list, they are not. They only become peace officers when given authority to enforce certain laws. When this happens, they will no longer be security guards but security officers.

Police Officers are Peace Officers

Most regions of the world consider police officers to be peace officers. They have specific duties because they are police officers, which include:

As a police officer, you will also need to understand specific legal documents, such as warrants and affidavits. You will also likely be trained to drive emergency vehicles.

Common Qualities of a Peace Officer or Police Officer

The qualities you need to be a peace officer or a police officer are pretty much the same and include:

There are many qualities you should possess if you want to be a peace officer or police officer. You need to have good resilience as you protect citizens in your jurisdiction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Peace Officers and Police Officers

Does a peace officer carry a firearm?

Peace officers can carry a firearm, but they don’t always carry a firearm. They can enforce the law with a weapon or without.

Will a peace officer have to have a warrant to arrest someone?

Not in every circumstance will a warrant be necessary. Peace officers can carry out a no-warrant arrest. This does vary from one jurisdiction to another. Often, in a life-threatening situation, a peace officer can make an arrest without a warrant.

When can a peace officer make a no-warrant arrest?

There are situations when a peace officer can make an arrest without a warrant. These situations include:

There are a variety of careers you can go into as a peace officer. You will have to narrow down the list if you decide you want to go this route. The list can include becoming a police officer.

Often, you will need to start with the same training as a police officer for other peace officer types of careers. However, as you advance your career, you will likely need to gain additional training. Peace officers and police officers are similar, but one is more specific than the other. Make sure you do your research before you choose the right career in law enforcement for you.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.