Becoming a Police Officer in Tacoma, Washington

A job with the Tacoma Police Department will place you in one of the most diverse cities in Washington State. The police department is currently actively recruiting police officers who can speak Vietnamese, Cambodian, Russian, Korean, or Spanish.

If you are looking to serve and protect in this cosmopolitan city, then review this step-by-step guide describing how to become a police officer in Tacoma:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Apply
  3. Tests
  4. Personal history
  5. Oral board interview
  6. Background investigation
  7. Examinations
  8. Training


Step 1. Minimum Requirements

Meeting police officer requirements in Tacoma will be the first hurdle you must traverse. To have a chance at becoming a police officer in Tacoma you must meet the following standards:

  • U.S. citizen
  • High school graduate or GED
  • Driver’s license
  • You may be disqualified for:
    • Criminal history
    • Illegal drug use
    • Bad driving record
    • Poor credit history

Step 2. Apply

You can only apply for Tacoma police jobs when there is a vacancy in the department. This means you must monitor the Tacoma PD’s website, facebook page, and other local sources to see when a position opens up. You may also fill out a job interest card to be notified when this happens by the city of Tacoma. When you do apply make sure your application packet is filled out neatly and completely. Your application and accompanying papers will be assessed and if everything is in order you will be notified of your testing appointment.

Step 3. Tests

Written Test – You will need to take two tests whose results will rank you alongside other candidates. The first is a written test. This will evaluate your basic knowledge in writing, reading comprehension, and mathematics.

Physical Ability Test – This may be scheduled directly after your written test or it may be scheduled for the following day. A passing score for this test is 160 and the maximum score is 200. You must get at least 30 points in each category. The four events of the test are listed below, along with the results which correspond to the 30-50 point spread:

  • 300-meter run, 71 to 56 seconds
  • Push-ups, no time limit to complete 21 to 35
  • Sit-ups, in one minute complete between 30-38
  • 1.5-mile run, to be completed in at least 14:31 with a high score of 13:35 or less

Step 4. Personal History

After achieving passing scores on your tests you will need to complete a personal history questionnaire and meet with a police official for a personal history interview. Your interviewer will discuss your answers on the questionnaire with you and determine if you have any factors in your background that make you ineligible for a career as a Tacoma police officer.

Step 5. Oral Board Interview

A community member will join a captain, lieutenant, sergeant, and commissioned officer to conduct your oral board interview. You will be asked about your personal history, employment record, future goals, and motivations for wanting to become a cop in Tacoma.

Step 6. Background Investigation

After completing a successful oral board interview you will begin the process of your background investigation. You will meet with a detective to go over your personal history statement and additional background questions. The detective will consider this interview, along with your driving record, credit report, criminal records, and employment history when making a recommendation to the hiring unit. Your background detective may also conduct interviews with anyone who has known or observed you for a significant portion of time.

This process usually takes between two and four weeks. Upon completion the hiring board will consider everything up to this point about your application and make a decision on whether or not to extend to make you a conditional offer of employment.

Step 7. Examinations

Once you have accepted the conditional offer of employment you will need to complete three examinations before the chief of police gives you the final okay for hire:

  • Polygraph Examination: This will be given by a professional administrator who will question you about previous illegal and immoral activities as well as any nefarious motivations you might have about becoming a police officer in Tacoma.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A licensed psychologist will conduct an interview with you to determine your mental stability and tolerance for stress.
  • Medical Examination: This will be performed by a doctor who will check your hearing, eyesight, give you a thorough physical examination, and finally a drug and alcohol test.

Step 8. Training

When you have successfully navigated the Tacoma police department’s hiring process you will begin your training with an initial month of pre-academy training. This is followed by academy training which lasts five months. Then you will receive two months of post-academy training, and finally conclude your recruit training with a patrol training officer lasting four months. Training will focus on the areas of:

  • Criminal justice system
  • Report writing
  • Legal issues and procedures
  • Juvenile law
  • Family law and domestic violence
  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons
  • Interrogation techniques
  • Driving maneuvers

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