Florida is among one of the states that employ the aid of a rather strict recruitment and selection process for law enforcement agents. Therefore, this quick guide on how to become a police officer in Florida will attempt to take readers through the basic requirements that need to be met in order to qualify.

In essence, although the regulations do not vary a great deal from the ones used across the board in the United States, it is important to know that police departments in this state pride themselves on selecting only the most worthy candidates for the job.

Without further ado, let’s take quick look at the list of police officer requirements.

Minimum Requirements

  • Must be at least 19 years old.
  • Must be a United States citizen.
  • Applicants for law enforcement and corrections must have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). For probation officers, a bachelor’s degree is required.
  • Must not be convicted of any felony or a misdemeanor that involves perjury or false statement.
  • Should not be dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States. 
  • Must pass a physical examination by a licensed physician, physical assistant or a certified nurse practitioner.
  • Should have a good moral character to be determined by a background investigation.
  • Must have documented fingerprint on record with an employment agency.
Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Age and Education Requirements to Enroll in the Florida Police Academy

The minimum age requirement for potential candidates of the police academy programs in Florida is no less than 19 years old.

However, regarding education the candidate must have completed, there are two standards:

  • GED or graduating high school courses (applies for law enforcement agents as well as for correctional officers)
  • Bachelor’s degree (applies for correctional probation officers)

Click here to check out the various police officer jobs in Florida.

Regardless of the field of the candidacy, the higher level of education provides substantial benefits in acquiring a higher rank or advancing on the structural ladder. To put it simple, a candidate with an associate’s degree, for example, will have better chances of being accepted in the police academy and of landing a high responsibility job after graduation.

Although advancing in the hierarchy of Florida’s police department can also be achieved through experience and special merits in the field of duty, higher education is also valued by higher ranking officers.

Having a Clean Criminal Record is a Must for Florida Law Enforcement Training

The criminal record is one of the most important selection criteria for potential candidates of the Florida law enforcement system. The current standard that applies is that individuals found guilty of eliminatory felonies or crimes after the first of July, 1981 are not eligible.

It is fairly easy to comprehend that the job specifications of a police officer imply that candidates need high moral standards, and any spot on their criminal record mark him as a liability, particularly when given authority over civilian citizens.

A quick list of eliminatory crimes and felonies for candidates of the Florida police academies looks like this:

  • Perjury and false statements in the court of law
  • Crimes of violence
  • Major traffic violations
  • Thefts
  • Misdemeanor related crimes

On a side note, in certain parts of the state of Florida, gambling problems provide grounds for the disqualification of police academy candidates.

Spotless Military Record

The Florida law enforcement department is currently not accepting potential recruits that have been subjected to a dishonorable discharge from the United States military department.

A dishonorable discharge is generally related to actions that are not suitable for an individual in uniform.

Given that the standards of the police academy and the military academy are rather similar, the decision of the army or the navy to discharge a candidate from service based on his actions as a cadet are grounds enough for the Florida police academies to reject the application.

Physical and Moral Standards

The tests administered in order to verify whether a candidate is fit for the job will need to be performed by a licensed medical professional.

On a side note, all potential candidates will be fingerprinted and their fingerprints will need to be catalogued and added to the database of the agency where they applied.

The medical personnel that fall under this category are:

  • Certified physicians
  • Certified physician assistants
  • Certified advanced registered nurses (practitioners)

In respect of the moral character of applicants, the evaluation will be conducted by experienced specialists and the guidelines specified in the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission will be used. Under certain circumstances, candidates will be subjected to polygraph tests in order to determine the authenticity of their statements.

Police Training Programs in Florida

New candidates will first need to have the Basic Abilities Test completed before enrolling in a learning program at the police academy. Furthermore, having achieved these criteria, the recruits will either need to complete the Basic Recruit Training or the alternative Cross-Over Program at one of the attested learning institutions.

It is worth noting that for graduates that have not worked in the law enforcement field, the education is valid for four years. In cases where less than eight years between the graduation and the employment in the police force have passed, candidates will need to follow Equivalency Training.

However, graduates of the police academy courses that have not worked in the field for more than eight years will be required to complete the BAT and the BR or CO training again. For more information on How to Become a Police Officer in Florida, please visit the Florida Highway Patrol website.

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