Dear Officer Friendly,
Can you tell us about the hiring process? How long was the academy? Did you ever think you wouldn’t make it? How many didn’t make it?
Thank you for your answers every week. I really enjoy them.
The hiring process is an arduous one, to say the least. After your basic application has been received it must be approved for the hiring process. Basically, they want to make sure you have no warrants or pending court cases. Having done this, the applicant receives a more in depth and very detailed set of applications and wavier’s.
I dropped 25 pounds in preparation for the testing and was running 6-7 miles every other day. I went to the library and checked out the Arco Tester for law enforcement testing. This is a book that contains numerous police department tests from around the country. It really prepared me to think like a cop. I also had a friend, who was a cop, put me through a mock oral board in preparation.
The hiring process is designed to eliminate applicants through each phase of testing, so as to end with a small group of the most applicable applicant’s. Phase one is the written test. This test covers a wide range of areas including general knowledge, basic math skills and English composition skills. It also tests, to a degree, the common sense of the individual in law enforcement situations and your memory skills. One must think like a cop to answer like a cop.
Only those having passed the written test, usually with a 70% or better, are allowed to the next phase, the physical agility test. This is where the physical abilities of the remaining applicants are put to test. You must be able to climb over a six foot high wall, scale a six foot high screen fence, drag a 150 pound dummy and be timed in a long distance run, 500 yards if I remember correctly. There will also be other physical tests like a timed obstacle course.
Two successful tests and on to the oral board. Usually three or more people from the police department, human resources department, and other city or county offices may make up an oral board. This is where the applicant sits across from the panel and answers their questions from each of the board members. Questions like: Why do you want to be a police officer? Why do you want to be a police officer in our city? How do you view the job of a police officer? Do you believe you could kill someone in self defense? Then there are the situational questions. These really test the common sense of the applicant and his/her ability to make good decisions under pressure.
Only those applicants who have passed all three phases are allowed to proceed, and only by your ranking, starting with the top 20 or so, depending upon the size of the department and its need for people. You are usually mailed your percentage of proficiency and ranking amongst the remaining candidates.
A polygraph or lie detector test, a physical examination and a complete background investigation lay ahead. They will even come to your neighborhood and talk with your neighbors and your spouse. When I applied, the city was hiring only two cops. Over 500 began the testing process. After the first three phases were complete, I received a proficiency rating of 89.9% and was ranked number five. I had only hoped to get into the top 10%. When I received the letter, I jumped up and down like a little kid screaming at the top of my lungs. My wife looked at me and said, “Oh shit, he made it.” Numbers one through four? For whatever the reason, they never got hired.
Thank you, Officer Friendly!
Remember, if you have a question please email me at Karin@KarinTabke.com and Officer Friendly will be happy to answer.