Police officers are responsible for maintaining peace and order. They are the first line of defense in our communities, protecting the general public from any threats. Before becoming police officers, candidates must meet several different requirements.
There are many requirements to become a police officer. One of the most important is education. Although some police departments only require a high school degree or equivalent, many departments now require some college education. Criminal justice programs can vary from certificate programs all the way through a PhD in police science. Most police officers at least receive a two year associate’s degree. A degree in criminal justice will help potential police officers prepare for a career.
Before they can become police officers, new hires usually are required to attend a training academy. Police academies will teach recruits law, accident investigation, and civil rights. They will also be trained in patrolling, traffic control, emergency response, use of firearms first aid, and self-defense. Physical training is another part of most police academies.
Police officers must be United States citizens. Most departments require applicants to be at least twenty years old. There are many other requirements to become a police officer. Candidates must be able to meet intense physical prerequisites, showing speed, strength and agility. Police officers must also pass hearing, vision, and drug tests, as well as an intense written examination. New recruits will be given a personality test or interview by a psychologist. They will also be interviewed by a senior officer. A background check is also required.
The requirements to become a police officer are meant to weed out applicants who may not be good matches for the job. A previous criminal record, depending on the charges, may disqualify some people, especially in areas where there are few openings and many applicants. There are no height requirements for police officers, as long as they are able to perform the work required of them. Candidates with previous experience, such as a prison guard, military police, or similar position, may have an easier time getting a position as a police officer.
Due to the severe shortage of police officers in many areas, some departments are becoming less strict about some of the requirements to become a police officer. Some previous criminal acts may be overlooked if an applicant is otherwise qualified. Less previous education may also be accepted. However, in order to move up in rank, or to move to a larger agency, police officers may be required to complete education requirements later on.