Members of the military who hold command/leadership positions are referred to as "officers." The same is true of firefighters. However, when it comes to police, the term "officers" refers to all members of a department (excluding civilian support staff and other special cases).

What is the term — assuming one exists — for police officers who hold non-entry-level ranks (e.g. lieutenants and chiefs)?

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  • I feel like I've asked this question before, but I don't see it on my profile. I apologize if I'm re-asking a deleted question; I'm hoping I just asked it somewhere else. – Pops Oct 27 '11 at 19:08
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    In the UK, all ranks are police officers. The entry level is constable. The highest rank is Chief Constable in most police forces, but Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard). – Barrie England Oct 27 '11 at 19:44
  • I went looking for this word recently, and didn’t find it. But in that particular case, I was able to substitute officer in charge. – Jason Orendorff Oct 28 '11 at 19:44

I have definitely heard the terms brass or top brass used in this situation in various US police tv series...

Wait'll the brass back at headquarters get a load of this!

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  • This is true, but "brass" in this context is a slang term. I was hoping for something a bit more formal. – Pops Oct 27 '11 at 19:40
  • Like ossifer, perhaps? (Unless the link's ref to "Chief Operating Officer" is wrong.) – James Waldby - jwpat7 Oct 27 '11 at 22:21

For the US, you can use the Wikipedia Police Rank in the US page.

Generally, it appears very similar to the Army. The differences are at the lowest rank (as you pointed out), and at the highest.

They do seem to have dispensed with the (IMHO archaic class-based) officer/enlisted distinction which the US Army retains. If that's what you are looking for, you probably won't find it, since it doesn't exist.

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  • I'm not looking for the name of a particular rank, though. I'm looking for a single word or term that refers collectively to all the ranks listed in that Wikipedia entry except for detectives/corporals/deputies/patrolmen. – Pops Oct 27 '11 at 21:17
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    @LordTorgamus - You are missing my point. That word only exists for the armed-services because they use an old-fashioned class-based system that separates "enlisted" (lower classes) from "officers" (nobility). There are strict rules for how the two groups can and can't deal with each other. Police don't do that. Since they don't have that distinction, there really can be no word that means the same thing. – T.E.D. Oct 28 '11 at 17:48
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    @FumbleFingers - You're right, of course. Fixed. – T.E.D. Oct 28 '11 at 17:50
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    That argument is a non sequitur. You are of course completely right that police departments and armed forces didn't evolve in the same way, but that's immaterial. A term with analagous meaning and different etymology could have evolved over time, or someone could have even created one out of the blue after seeing the need for one. – Pops Oct 28 '11 at 18:08

I have seen them referred to as commanders, supervisors or (in some systems that only have Chief and Deputy Chief ranks), simply Chiefs.

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In the UK, at least, I believe they are referred to as Senior Officers, although I think this refers to ranks of Superintendent and above (i.e. not including sergeant, inspector and chief inspector).

Edit: "Senior officer" actually refers to ranks above superintendent, making it quite an exclusive group!

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