It takes a very special person to become a cop. It’s not easy. And it’s very demanding.
So in the hiring process, departments subject applicants through a variety of steps to make sure they hire a person who will do a great job, and keep the department out of trouble.
What are the steps involved?
Cop University covered the hiring process quite well. Below is a summary of what they presented.
It all starts with the application. And these days, departments often get hundreds if not thousands of applications for a single opening. The department can’t interview all of these applicants so they have to screen. Each department looks at things differently but clearly any disqualifying events like felony convictions, suspended drivers license, etc. will result in the applicant being immediately rejected. Beyond that, the department can look at things like education, stability in prior jobs, and other factors.
Applicants have to pass a written test. Often it’s not just sufficient to pass, but to score high given the large number of applicants. These tests focus on skills like mathematics, reading comprehension, grammar, and spelling. And there is usually a written essay.
The physical ability test is also very important. Applicants must be in good enough physical condition to perform the job of a police officer. This test includes a variety of obstacles designed to replicate what an officer might face on the street.
The oral interview is probably the most important part of the hiring process. The candidate will meet with several representatives of the department and be asked tough questions. Candidates are usually ranked after the oral interview and only the top candidates are invited to go further in the process.
If all of this seems a bit scary, you can check out the How To Become A Cop online course.
A background investigation is conducted that looks into every detail of the applicant’s life. Family, friends, co-workers, and supervisors are interviewed. Criminal records are checked, as are financial records like a credit check. If a candidate has any issue, they need to disclose it. Any dishonestly will result in immediate disqualification.
If a candidate makes it through all of the above, they will often have another interview with the head of the agency (Chief, Sheriff, etc.) or another top member of the command staff. This is the time the applicant has to prove they are the right person for the job and will represent the agency well.
At this point, a conditional job offer is usually made. This allows the department to subject the applicant to a pre-employment medical exam and psychological exam. These are usually the final steps in the process.
If a candidate has made it through all of the above, a formal job offer will come when a job vacancy is available.
Is it over then? Of course not. Now it’s time for the police academy and several months of grueling work.
After graduation, it’s time for the Field Training program where the new officer works with several experienced training officers. A fair percentage of new officers fail this step, so it’s not to be taken lightly.
Once FTO is completed, and the officer completes a probationary period of a year to 18 months, the hiring process is essentially done.
They’re a cop, and will enjoy the benefits, and must deal with the responsibilities, that come with the position.