Becoming a Police Officer in Watertown, South Dakota

The Watertown Police Department proudly serves approximately 22,000 residents with a total of 35 sworn and 19 non-sworn personnel. The Department patrols approximately 27 square miles and responds to an estimated 30,000 calls each year.

Below, you will learn about becoming a police officer in Watertown in eight steps:

  1. Recommended Minimum Qualifications
  2. Submit Your Application
  3. Civil Service Process
  4. Departmental Oral Interview
  5. Background Examination
  6. Conditional Employment Offer
  7. Training Process
  8. Training for Certification


Step 1. Recommended Minimum Qualifications

The first step to becoming a police officer in Watertown is to review the list of recommended minimum qualifications and ensure that you meet them. These qualifications include:

  • High school graduate/ GED
  • Prior law enforcement/criminal justice training or police experience is preferable
  • Driver’s license
  • At least 21 years of age

Ability to obtain the following certifications within 1 year is also required:

  • Basic South Dakota law enforcement
  • First aid and CPR
  • Certification to operate radar equipment and breathalyzers (portable breath test)
  • Use of firearms
  • Hazmat

Step 2. Submit Your Application

You can obtain an employment application here or at the City of Watertown Finance Office. You can also contact Captain Ryan Remmers at 605-882-6210 with any questions about police officer employment.

You will likely be asked to provide copies of the following documents:

  • DD-214, if you have military experience
  • Social security card
  • Driver’s license
  • High school diploma and any college degrees earned
  • Proof of citizenship

Step 3. Civil Service Process

The next step in the hiring process is known as the civil service process. First, you will take the civil service written exam. This test is used to assess your general scholastic ability and typically includes things like grammar, reading comprehension, writing, arithmetic, judgment, and reasoning. After passing this test, you will go on to complete the civil service oral interview.

Step 4. Departmental Oral Interview

After you satisfactorily pass the civil service process, you be called for a departmental oral interview. This interview will be done by the Watertown Human Resources Department. You will be asked a specific set of predetermined questions, and time will be given for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if needed. You may also be asked questions about your resume and previous history during the interview. The interviewer will then make recommendations about you candidacy directly to the Chief of Police.

Step 5. Background Examination

Once you have completed the departmental oral interview and been chosen as a candidate, you will complete the background examination. This examination is done by the Captain of Professional Standards or someone designated by the Chief of Police. The background check includes:

  • Review of credit history
  • Review of your driving history
  • Criminal background investigation
  • National Database (checks to see if a previous law enforcement certification has been revoked)
  • Prior employment history
  • Interview of personal acquaintances
  • Thorough review of personal references

Next, you will proceed to the polygraph examination. This is conducted as part of the background investigation as well and is used to ensure that the information you have provided corresponds to the findings on the background check. The Captain of Professional Standards or designee of the Chief of Police will then make recommendations about your candidacy.

Step 6. Conditional Employment Offer

Now that your background has checked out, you will receive a conditional employment offer. Before you can be officially hired by the Watertown Police Department, you will still have to complete a medical exam and psychological testing. The psychological evaluation assesses your mental status and suitability for work as a police officer.

The medical exam is done by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner. It will include a review of your past medical records to determine if there are any limitations which would prohibit you from working as a police officer. Additionally, you will also complete a full drug screen panel.

Step 7. Training Process

The first part of your employment with the Watertown Police Department will begin with the Police Training and Evaluation Program (PTEP). The first portion of the PTEP process includes 3 weeks of classroom training. After that, you will be assigned to 3 different Police Training Officers for a 10-week period. During this time, you will learn about things like search and seizure, appropriate policies and procedures of the department, and arrest laws.

Problem Based Learning Exercises (PBLE) have also recently been incorporated into the PTEP program. PBLEs are simulated real-life situations that will teach you how to use your resources to resolve each individual situation. During the 14th week of the program, which is the last week, you will be evaluated by your PTO officer.

Step 8. Training for Certification

Next, you will start training to obtain certification. The Watertown Police Department allows you 1 year to obtain this certification, but it is typically done just after finishing the PTEP program. Training is done at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre. The entire certification process takes about 13 weeks and 520 clock hours of training.

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