Peace Officers Vs. Police Officers: What Are The Differences And Similarities? 

Several misconceptions surround being a peace officer. People are largely unaware of who they are and what they stand for, thus the misconception. 

People are constantly questioning if peace officers are police officers. Many have concluded that they are not police officers because they can’t reconcile the word “peace” with “police.” Some opine that peace officers are security guards and not law enforcers. 

This post is to enlighten you on peace officers and police officers. Who are they, and what are the connections or differences they have? 

Let’s go deeper! 

Peace Officers Vs. Police Officers 

Peace officers are also called law enforcement officers in different regions. North Americans mostly use the title, Peace officer. 

A police officer is a peace officer because the peace officer title covers every public server who enforces the law. Indeed police officers are a subset of the peace officers. 

Who Are Peace Officers? 

According to the new legal codes, peace officers include every person who has the authority to enforce the law. That means anybody with legislative authority (that has been sworn in) can make an arrest, push for criminal persecution, carry and use arms, and is a peace officer. Does this sound like a police officer? Yes, it does. 

A police officer is also known as a peace officer, so are many other law enforcers. 

Examples Of Peace Officers 

Any law enforcer you know is by law a peace officer. Here are examples of peace officers with a duty and responsibility to enforce certain laws:

  • Police officers 
  • Special agents 
  • Patrol officers 
  • Detention officers 
  • Municipal Law enforcement officers 
  • Court officers 
  • Border patrol
  • Sheriff’s 
  • Deputies 
  • Constables 
  • Arson investigators 
  • Immigration officers 
  • State troopers 
  • Special police 
  • Secret agents 
  • Auxiliary officers 
  • Parole officers 
  • Game wardens 
  • Corrections 
  • Campus officers (sworn in) 

Security guards are not peace officers, contrary to popular belief. They can only be peace officers when they have received the authority to enforce certain laws. At this point, they become security officers.

Peace Officers In Different Regions 

Although generally, law enforcers are peace officers, different regions still have different definitions based on their criminal codes. Let’s take a look at different regions and what set of public servers make up their peace officers or law enforcement officers:

The US Federal law enforcement: 

Members of the United States federal law enforcement include:

  • Federal air marshal 
  • Bureau of diplomatic security. (special agents) 
  • Department of interior fish and wildlife services 
  • Drug enforcement administration (DEA) 
  • US postal service postal inspector 
  • Federal Bureau of prisons officers 
  • ICE deportation officers (importation and customs Enforcement) 
  • Department of coast guard officers. 
  • US department of veterans affair police 
  • The US military police 
  • Park rangers 
  • Warrant officers 
  • Department of Interior Bureau land management officers 
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 
  • Customs and border protection officers 
  • Federal flight deck officers 
  • US border patrol agents 
  • United States Department of treasury secret service uniformed officers 
  • Department of homeland security investigation secret service 
  • Petty officers 
  • Department of Justice Federal Bureau of prisons correctional officers 

Peace officers in California: 

In the state of California, the people who are peace officers according to the California Penal Code are:

  • The Investigators, sent to the district attorney’s office. 
  • The California highway patrol. 
  • Railroad officers, commissioned by the state government or the California state governor. 
  • Security officers of the California military department. 
  • University police officers. 
  • Welfare fraud investigators from the Dept. Of social services. 
  • Hospital police officers from the California Department of state hospitals. 
  • California dept. Of motor vehicles investigators.
  • California expo police officers. 
  • The state park peace officers. 
  • Police.
  • California dept. Of consumer affairs investigators. 
  • Sheriff’s and their Deputies. 
  • The special agents of the cal dept of Corrections and rehabilitation. 
  • The employment development department investigators. 
  • University of California police officers. 
  • County coroner’s and their Deputies. 
  • California’s Department of alcoholic beverage control, investigators. 
  • Cal’s Attorney General.
  • California’s Department of Justice investigators and special agents.
  • The state’s fire Marshal and their Deputies .
  • An assigned park ranger.

These are some of the California peace officers according to the California Penal Code. The above-mentioned public servants have the power within their states but not so much outside their jurisdiction. It is also important to note that their primary assignment may limit their power. 

They can act outside their primary assignment and arrest within their state if they sense impending danger to lives and property. 

Peace officers in Canada: 

The Canadian peace officers, according to the Canada criminal code, are: 

  • Warden. 
  • The officers of the immigration and refugee protection department.
  • A registered pilot in command of a plane. (pilot must be registered according to the aeronautics act). 
  • A police officer. 
  • Custom officers, assigned according to the Excise Act of 2001 and the custom act. 
  • A fishery officer or guardian.
  • Bailiff.
  • Members of the Canadian forces (commissioned and noncommissioned). 

Do All Peace Officers Carry Arms? 

Although peace officers can carry arms, they are not always armed with weapons. So, they can enforce the law within their jurisdiction with or without weapons. 

Does A Peace Officer Need The Warrant To Make An Arrest? 

Not always, some laws allow a peace officer to carry out a no-warrant arrest. These rules vary and change. The rules are also highly dependent on the extremity of the situation. If the situation is life-threatening, the officer is obligated to do something about it, even outside their primary assignment. 

What Circumstances Can A Peace Officer Make A No-Warrant Arrest?

Here are situations or circumstances that may require that a peace officer make a no-warrant arrest:

  • If the person (s) has previously been in a known crime, or there is a filed complaint against the person, there are reasons to believe that the person will cause harm. 
  • If the person is a known offender. 
  • If the person intentionally stops or tries to hinder a peace officer from discharging their duties. 
  • If the person is a suspected military deserter.
  • If the person does something that can disturb the peace of the community in the presence of the peace officer.
  • If the person is breaking into a house or has in possession of anything from a break-in.
  • If the person is intentionally trying to stay hidden with an intent to commit a suspected crime.
  • Suppose the person has something related to a crime. Or any stolen property or property tied to any fraudulent activity.

Police Officers As Peace Officers 

In almost every region, police officers are peace officers. The criminal codes of different states and regions include them at all times. And like every peace officer out there, they have a duty to the people of their country or state. 

Duties of a police officer: 

The duties of a police officer include:

  • An officer has to protect life and property by enforcing the laws that guide a country or state. 
  • They arrest criminals.
  • They work on processing criminals. 
  • The police officers must be able to determine if a situation requires force and to what extent. 
  • They testify in court.
  • They carry out traffic investigations. 
  • They take calls for the police service and take action. 
  • They are available during adverse weather conditions in case of an emergency.
  • They participate in campus policing. 
  • They take charge of emergency personals during emergencies (accidents or natural disasters) 
  • They can understand different legal documents—for example, affidavits, warrants, etc. 
  • The police officer should be able to drive an emergency automobile during emergencies. 
  • They conduct interviews. 

What Are The Qualities Every Police Officer Must Have? 


Police officers protect lives and properties by enforcing the law. For this reason, people hold them to a higher standard. 

Police officers should go about their duties with a high level of professionalism because of the magnitude of their work. 


Humanity is an important quality for a police officer to have. Because their job comes with a lot of power, it is easy to get power drunk. A bit of humanity would keep them grounded. 

The police officer must respect the lives and the rights of the citizens they protect. They must be inclusive and treat everyone compassionately. 


Integrity is a quality that every police officer must possess. Citizens need to be able to trust that they would deliver their duties in fairness and with honesty.

They should uphold justice consistently, working hard to put aside their biases. So, as they perform their duties, police officers should wear their integrity like a badge. 


To be a police officer requires courage. You can’t defend citizens, putting their safety first without courage. 

Courage and resilience are qualities a police officer must possess. They can’t afford to protect themselves at the expense of the citizens’ safety. It takes courage to show up for your colleagues during emergencies and in danger. 


Peace officers are not security guards or whatever wrong notion you might have about peace officers. They are public servants who earn their salaries to enforce the laws that govern their nation or state. These laws may be confined to different jurisdictions. 

For example, a customs office should enforce custom-related laws. As a peace officer, he would go beyond his jurisdiction only when necessary. 

Peace officers are public servants paid to serve you in different capacities. This post is an overview of who peace officers and police officers are and what citizens expect. 

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