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Author Topic: How do officers get hired?  (Read 8462 times)

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Bob Mueller

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How do officers get hired?
« on: October 31, 2006, 02:54:31 PM »

Posted October 19, 2006, 06:30:17 PM by Jim Doherty

Ella brings up a good point, and perhaps this is a good place to describe what a police applicant has to go through if he's not a lateral transfer.

There are usually three basic tests an applicant has to go through to get on a hiring list, once s/he's turned in an application.

There's a written test, usually consisting of a series of multiple choice questions.  The content of these questions can vary from department to department.  Some are objective "one right answer, three or four wrong answers" kind of tests.  Others are more personality indicators (which of the shapes do you prefer," "which of the colors do your prefer").  At the moment, objective tests are more common.

There is also a physical agility/ability test.  In some departments this might consist of an obstacle course mirroring situations an officer might encounter on the street (running up stairs, climbing over a fence, dragging a dummy a short distance, etc.)  In others it might be three or four specific fitness tests (bench press 2/3 of your body weight, do so many sit-ups and/or push-ups in a finite period of time, run a mile and a half in a finite period of time), with the minimum performance standards put on a sliding scale depending on the age or gender of the applicant.

Those who pass these two tests are then scheduled to be interviewed by an oral board.  The oral board might consist of three or four line officers, three or four community members, three or four high-ranking officers, officers from an outside department, or some combination of the above.

The weight given to each test varies from department to department, but generally, the heaviest weight is given to the interview.

Once a list is established, persons on the list are contacted as openings occur.

When an applicant is pulled off the list for closer examination, a further battery of tests follows.

A medical exam.

A psychiatric/psychological exam.  This may consist of a written psychological test, an interview with a shrink, or both.

An intensive background investigation (this is what Ella was referring to).

A one-on-one interview with the chief or some other executive level officer.

Lateral transfers will generally have to go through that second battery of tests, even if the first battery is waived because of their prior training and experience.

If they pass the second battery of tests they will be offered a job, contingent on their being able to successfully pass a course of basic training at a certified police academy.  In most jurisdictions, the minimum basic training is 400 hours over 10 weeks.  Usually, it's 12 weeks.  At departments that maintain their own academies (NYC, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, LA County, Cook County, etc.), it may be much longer.

Once they get through that, they have to go through a period of field training with an experienced officer.  This usually lasts three more months.  If any of the Field Training Officers (and there are usually at least three, one for each shift) black-balls the probationary officer, s/he's out.

Once s/he's successfully passed field training, and is out on his/her own, s/he still has at least nine months of probation to sweat.  A single misstep can get him or her fired during this time, with no recourse or avenue of appeal.

When you get through all that, you've finally earned the right to risk life and limb on behalf of a generally unappreciative and often hostile public.

So you've gotta really want it.

JIM DOHERTY
http://www.deadlyserious.com/JimDoherty
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Bob

Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.
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