Officer Selection

Topics: Police, Constable, Police officer Pages: 5 (1542 words) Published: June 27, 2011
Officer Selection Process
Joe Burwell
Loyola Law School
Pre-Law Selection Course
Introduction to Police Theory and Practices
James Roberts
February 16, 2011

Officer Selection Process
The job of a police officer involves stressful situations and entails interactions with many individuals in the community. It also requires quick decision making and good judgment. Police duties vary from writing reports to maintaining order to responding to criminal situations, all of which require critical thinking skills (Grant & Terry, 2009). Because of the range of duties, officers should possess certain traits: physically agility, the ability to cope with difficult situations, well-developed writing skills, good communication skills, sound judgment, compassion, strong powers of observation, and the ability to both exert and respect commands of authority. Minimum Requirements

Every department sets its own standards when considering candidates for police officers, however most departments require a series of minimum standards which perspective applicants must have. All applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have or be eligible to receive a driver’s license because their primary duty is patrol, and they must be able to drive to respond to incidents. Police officers must also be able to possess a firearm. In order to qualify to own a firearm, a person must be at least twenty-one years old. Applicants must also have no Felony convictions. Convicted felons also are prohibited from possessing a firearm, which thereby bars them from becoming police officers. Individuals with domestic violence convictions are no longer able to possess a firearm, thereby prohibiting them from becoming police officers as well (Grant & Terry, 2009). Finally many police departments now have educational standards for recruits. Nearly all departments require officers to have at least a high school diploma, and many require at least some college credits.

Written Examination
The written examination is the first step in becoming a police officer once a formal application has been submitted. The test varies by department, but it might be a civil service exam, an exam produced by the individual police department, or one produced by a private testing company. The exam does not test specific legal or criminal justice knowledge, but rather evaluates the candidate’s basic reading, writing, and comprehension skills. The exam will likely contain a number of different sections, whereby the candidate must be able to understand and write in English, write a sample essay, understand basic mathematics, memorize facts, show sound reasoning and logic, and analyze potential scenarios. For California the written examination is developed by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and measures reading comprehension and writing abilities (, 2011). Departmental Interview

Departmental Interview will evaluate the applicant's interpersonal skills, problem solving, oral communication and other abilities not tested by other examination components. The interview is not scored; however, the interview panel will make recommendations regarding who should proceed in the final hiring process. The interview can be structured, unstructured, or a combination or both. In a structured interview, the candidate is asked a series of questions regarding the job and his or her specific abilities. Structured questions such as “Do you drink alcohol”, usually require specified answers direct answers. The alternative to this would be to conduct a semi structured interview with open ended questions on particular topics. Structured interviews allow for a better comparison of candidates on specific topics, open-ended questions are likely to elicit more information. Though the candidate must pass all phases of the selection process in order to be hired as a police officer, the interview process is critical in...

References: Grant, H. B., & Terry, K. J. (2008). Law Enforcement in the 21st Century, Second Edition. Retrieved from (2011), Academy Training: retrieved from;
Post, (2011), Pre-Offer Personality Testing in the Selection of California Peace Officers; retrieved from
SFPD, (2011); The Police Officer Selection Process, retrieved from
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