Military police get a bad rap. Sure, they spend a lot of time trying to catch speeders going 2 mph over the limit in the middle of the night and give the driver a ticket that stalls his career for no good reason, but they also do useful stuff like these six things:
1. Engage in maneuver warfare
Believe it or not, the troops voted most likely to work as mall security after they get their DD-214 are trained to take and hold territory from the enemy in war. While the MPs aren't as specialized in these tasks as the infantry, they are capable.
The U.S. Army military police school's manevuer training focuses on breaching operations, route recon and surveillance, controlling river crossings, and other essential elements of controlling the battlespace.
2. Guard mission-critical infrastructure
So, yeah, there's a reason that MPs do make good mall cops if they ever feel the need to take that route. They do train to protect stationary places from local hooligans. It's just those stationary places are air bases and ammo dumps and those local hooligans are hardened insurgent fighters.
The MPs call it "critical site security." And they train to do it in chemical gear, under fire, and facing off against enemy infantry. So you better believe they can keep the stoner kids out of Spencer Gifts.
3. Evacuate civilians from conflict areas and natural disasters
When the rains come, whether they're rains of artillery or torrential downpours of water, the MPs are just as ready to rush in and get civilians out of harm's way as they seem in all those recruiting commercials.
"Dislocated Civilians," "Populace and Resource Control," and "Straggler, Dislocated Civilian Control" are all military police functions that pretty much mean that MPs will corral you to safety and help figure out the food situation during the next zombie apocalypse.
4. Investigate crimes
Unless you're a murderer. Because the MPs will definitely not have your back if you're a murderer. Or a drug user. Or dealer. Or really, any crime. That's because some military police become MPIs, military police investigators, and will be investigating those crimes.
While the MPIs don't get the headlines like the special agents of the Criminal Investigations Division or the Naval Criminal Investigations Service, they do assist in the investigations of major crimes by collecting witness testimony and physical evidence. And, like all MPs, they are federal law enforcement officers.
5. Contain riots and civil unrest
Military police don't just train on hunting enemy soldiers and tracking down hardened criminals. They also learn how to deal with angry protestors. The military emphasizes de-escalation when possible, but MPs learn how to hold the line against Molotov cocktails and armed protesters if necessary to contain riots and civil unrest. This includes everything from fire phobia training to the proper use of tear gas.
6. Teach policing fundamentals to partnered military and law enforcement agencies
Of course, all this training turns new recruits into law enforcement experts, or at least people with enough expertise to train brand new police officers. Military police units are often sent around the world to train the police departments of American allies.