Many individuals aspire to become police officers for varied reasons and objectives – the benefits, the pension, and the salary or for the mere fact that public service jobs tend to be perceived as an iron rice bowl.
However, despite the different motivations and the various police officer requirements, dedicated police officers are concerned with two main aspects of law enforcement; to serve the community in which they are based in to best of their abilities and enforcing the law to the best way possible as well as according to the laid down legal procedures.
Requirements to Become a Police Officer
After successfully meeting the minimum police officer joining prerequisites, you may proceed to the next enrolling step.
This police officer enrollment step involves applying for and being accepted into a police academy.
Once you are accepted, you will be transformed from a wannabe police officer cadet to a full-fledged police officer by the end of the training session which spans normally one year.
That being said, the path to a job as a police officer in the United States of America is long and complicated.
For instance, it includes weeding people at each step of the way until only the best candidates are offered the coveted spots in the police academy.
And to say the truth, competition in joining a police academy is quite fierce, especially with all the post 9/11 heroism hoopla yielding more and more applicants.
In summary here are the basic requirements, it can vary in each department. The list here is to be used as a generic guideline:
- Should be at least 21 years of age.
- Did not use drugs.
- Should not have any felony record.
- Must be in good physical and mental condition.
- Have a good moral character.
- Must pass the written exam.
- Must pass the polygraph exam.
- Should pass the background check.
Dis-qualifiers to Becoming a Police Officer
The items listed here are a general guideline of the common dis-qualifiers, it can vary depending on the department, agency, or location.
- A felony conviction.
- A misdemeanor conviction – domestic or sexual abuse.
- Using illegal drugs.
- A DUI/DWI conviction.
- Poor credit history.
What is expected of a police officer?
Prior to joining a police academy, applicants should be made aware of the uniformed officer requirements and what is expected of them.
As per the Department of Civil Service’s website, patrols assigned in an area who are in a radio equipped motorcycle, car, or on foot and etc., are expected to:
- Discover and prevent the commission of crimes.
- Answer to distress calls and complications that involve motorcar accidents, domestic disturbances and other misdemeanors; for instance enforce traffic laws and arrest those that violate traffic laws, direct traffic and so forth.
At the scene of crime, they are supposed to:
- Administer first aid.
- Gather evidence that can stand in a court of law.
- Conduct initial investigations that led to the advert of the crime in question.
- Make arrests in addition to obtaining appropriate witnesses.
- Testify in a court of law on the arrest made.
Apart from this, they are supposed to perform other related duties as directed by their superiors.
Do you meet the basic requirements?
Now you may be wondering what the application and selection process is like for becoming a police officer in the US. Obviously, the first entry point is deciding that you want to become a United States of America police officer.
After seriously reflecting on the duties as mentioned above, and you believe that you can rise up to the occasion as a cop in the US, analyzed below are some police officer recruitment processes for you to think about.
In addition to being expected to be of age (21 years and above), the prospective police officers are required to have taken sixty college credits.
If this isn’t the case, they should have spent at least two years of active military service at any capacity. Other police officer requirements include background checks, fingerprinting, drug screening and the likes.
Apart from these basic police officer requirements, there is also a residency requirement. Along with these police officer requirements, the potential applicants should also hold a valid driving license and be a permanent citizen of the United States of America.
The police officer selection process and required exams in the US
- The civil service exam:This is the first step to becoming accepted into a police officer training program. To start with, you must complete the application and take the civil service tested that is administered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).
After passing this particular test, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services notifies the relevant authorities of your eligibility.
- Character screening, fingerprinting, medical exam, education and military check: These police officer requirements are all checked in one single day and if you fail in any of them, you won’t be allowed to proceed to the next step.
- Character investigation: Apart from the mentioned police officer requirements, all prospective police officer candidates must undergo a more detailed personal character screening. This is done face to face with an investigator who studies your application in a more detailed manner and addresses discrepancies that may arise while at it.
- Written psychological exam: To be sure that the recruiters are recruiting individuals with mental profiles that are consistent to contribute positively to police work, the recruiting state normally administers a standard written psychological examination which has to be passed so as to proceed to the next level.
Other exams that have to be passed before a recruit could proceed to the next level include oral psychological evaluation and the job standard test. Apart from these police officer requirements and joining necessities, you must also take a pre-hire interview which you must emerge successfully from.
So, do you think you have what it takes to be an elite member of the law enforcement agency?