A liaison officer is in charge of working with different people, organizations or agencies to help them accomplish a common goal. To do this, the liaison officer must oversee communications, and coordinate efforts between these different entities as well as the general public. Liaison officers can work in both the private and public sectors, but most are employed by public safety agencies.
Coordination of Departments
Getting various agencies to work together towards a single goal is the primary responsibility of a liaison officer. For example, in a school shooting or invasion situation, police, fire and medical services may need to be on the same scene to perform safety duties, with counseling and clergy services also present at the same location for other support. A liaison officer in these cases ensures that the police and fire departments have maintained safety before medical and counseling services begin, and provides communication and logistical support to ensure that all services are provided efficiently.
Communication and Representation
A liaison officer is the point of contact for the news media and possibly the general public for information about emergency situations or department operations. He may communicate through press releases, press conferences or interviews. In addition, the liaison officer may coordinate social media updates, as well as telephone call-in services for community members with the need for more specific information.
Mediation and Dispute Resolution
When many people or agencies work together on a common project, each may have its own agenda, or reasons for doing things. A liaison officer mediates disputes between each party, and keeps a project moving forward towards its goal. The officer may need to work with people with very strong personalities, and help each see the other's point of view.
Types of Liaison Officers
Liaison officers commonly work in police and fire departments, due to these agencies' exposure in crisis events. Liaison officers also work with courts as "bridges" between the legal system and the public or public agencies. Schools also use liaison officers as a way to connect police departments to the students in a productive way. A private sector company may also use a liaison officer to promote and enhance its public image.
Necessary Skills and Training
Liaison officers must have good organization and communication skills, as they must manage communication between people with different training and skill sets to allow them to work together effectively. When working with a police or fire department, a liaison officer may need to complete the minimum training requirements of a police officer or fire fighter. A liaison officer must also be a strong leader.
The required education for community liaison officers is usually a high school diploma, though some employers might prefer a post-secondary degree, depending on their field of business. The largest portion of prospective liaison officers who pursue a bachelor's degree major in business, though other popular majors include criminal justice, management, political science and international relations, depending on the field the student wishes to pursue.
Earning Potential and Growth Projections
Community liaison officers earn a median annual salary of about $40,000, according to PayScale. This breaks down to $16.79 per hour. Those in the lowest 10 percent on the earning scale make about $28,000 each year ($12.43 per hour), while those in the 90th percentile take home as much as $59,000 annually ($24.82 per hour).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that opportunities for public relations specialists, which include liaison officers, should grow by about 9 percent between 2016 and 2026 – on par with the national average job growth. Liaison officers may advance in their careers to become deputy directors, program managers, project managers or logistics officers.