The First Police Commission, appointed on 17 August 1865, contained detailed guidelines for the desired system of police in India and defined police as a governmental department to maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime. The Indian Police Service is not a force itself but a service providing leaders and commanders to staff the state police and all-India Para-Military Forces. Its members, who are all at least university graduates, are the senior officers of the police. With the passage of time Indian Police Service's objectives were updated and redefined, the rules and functions of an Indian Police Service Officer are as follows:
To fulfill duties based on border responsibilities, in the areas of maintenance of public peace and order, crime prevention, investigation, and detection, collection of intelligence, VIP security, counter-terrorism, border policing, railway policing, tackling smuggling, drug trafficking, economic offences, corruption in public life, disaster management, enforcement of socio-economic legislation, bio-diversity and protection of environmental laws etc.
Leading and commanding the Indian Intelligence Agencies like Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) etc., Indian Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, Civil and Armed Police Forces in all the states and union territories.
Leading and commanding the Para-Military Forces of India (PMF) which include the Central Police Organisations (CPO) and Central Paramilitary Forces (CPF) such as Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Security Guard (NSG), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Vigilance Organisations, Indian Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
Serve at head of the departments in policy making in the Ministries and Departments of Central and State Governments and public sector under takings both at centre and states, Government of India.
To interact and coordinate closely with the members of other All India Services and with the elite Indian Revenue Service and also with the Indian Armed Forces primarily with the Indian Army.
Last but not the least, to lead and command the force with courage, uprightness, dedication and a strong sense of service to the people.
Endeavour to inculcate in the police forces under their command such values and norms as would help them serve the people better.
Inculcate integrity of the highest order, sensitivity to aspirations of people in a fast-changing social and economic milieu, respect for human rights, broad liberal perspective of law and justice and high standard of professionalism.