What does it take to become a police officer these days? We all probably remember at least one of the “Police Academy” movies from back then. But those movies of course did not really reflect how Police Academy training really works. This article will cover some of the common requirements for candidates who want to become a police officer. Keep in mind that each county or state may have different requirements though.
The minimum requirements to become a police officer require the candidate to be a high school graduate and at least 21 years of age and have a clean criminal record. A college degree is not necessary but does help.
Each municipality has its own requirements to become a police officer as well as the state requirements may also differ. It is not uncommon to be competing with 200 to 300 other candidates for five positions in a small city.
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“The background checks and interviews that you go through to get accepted by a police agency are very thorough. In addition to that, you must also go through a psychological exam, and a mini obstacle course, said Pete Ziegler a recent San Jose, Ca. academy graduate.
Those police prospects that have military training and college have an edge. Part of the reasoning is that the academy is paramilitary training. If you enter a police academy, it is like going through boot camp all over again so if you have the military experience it helps you get through it. In addition to the military training, the academics are intense. Most academies expect that you pass the majority of your exams with a 90 percent or better and the test are on given from day one.
The academy has written test and it also has practical test. The written tests are multiple choice and not as stressful but the practical exams are meant to be stressful. The practical exams place you in real scenarios. Real police officers role play as suspects and the cadets are tested on knowledge they have learned at the academy on anything from when they can use a weapon or how to apprehend a suspect.
“I had four years in the army. So when I had some police sergeant screaming in my face calling me a maggot and inspecting my weapon it was no problem. In addition, I had done all the running and the obstacle course, and the weapons training before so that was one less aspect for me to worry about. I was able to then concentrate on the academic parts which were tough for me,” said Ziegler.
Some cities have their own police academies where as smaller cities depend on regional training academies. Each regional academy is different and tends to tend to the needs of the various municipalities they serve. Regional academies will serve as many cities as possible.
There are two types of cadets at the academy. There are those that sponsor themselves which are very few and then there are those sponsored by a city. Those cadets that have no sponsors pay all expenses for the academy on their own. The idea is to make themselves more marketable to police agencies once they graduate.
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Those that have sponsors have all their expenses picked up by the city that is sponsoring them. Cities interview their cadets through a rigorous background check, psychological profile and physical exam prior to the academy because the expense of the academy is so high and they want their cadets to pass. Up to 27% of cadets at any police academy can fail.
“If I had to say what caused the majority of the cadets to fail, I would have to say it was academics. The testing is harsh. Yes, the tests were multiple guess but the testing was often.”
Once a cadet graduates from an academy the hardest training is behind him. He then leaves for his city where he is placed into a mini academy. FTO s or field training officers then take over. It is up to these field training officers to take what you learned from the academy and teach you how to apply it on the street.
Very few police officers are weeded out at this point. The training usually has three phases to it and at least a couple of months before you are placed in a squad car on your own. The FTO training all depends on the size of the city you are serving.