Becoming a Police Officer in Vancouver, Washington

The Vancouver, Washington Police Department offers a variety of positions in which you can use your talents as part of an extremely effective law enforcement team. After you gain experience as a patrol officer you will be able to pursue a specialized position with the SWAT Team, narcotics unit, gangs unit, or the child abuse task force.

This guide will take you through the steps you’ll take in determining how to become a cop in Vancouver:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Testing
  3. Video test and oral interview
  4. Background investigation
  5. Health evaluations
  6. Training


Step 1. Minimum Requirements

First you must confirm that you are capable of meeting police officer requirements in Vancouver. These are:

  • Driver’s license
  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Have a relatively clean background
  • Good moral character
  • Height-weight proportional

Step 2. Register for Testing

When you are certain that you can satisfy the minimum requirements, you will need to take two pre-interview tests. The first is a written examination that tests your basic skills in reading comprehension, math, and writing. This is administered by a privately contracted company for which you can sign up online. You will receive a time and date for your exam, the cost will be $45.00, and the Vancouver PD will be notified of your results.

Upon passing the written exam you will then be scheduled for the physical ability test with the police department. Becoming a police officer in Vancouver means passing this test, whose standards are set by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. You will need to complete four events with a minimum of 30 points each. However the overall passing score for the test is 160, with a maximum of 50 points in each category, or 200 points overall. The events are listed below with the minimum and maximum standards.

  • 300-meter run: 71-56 seconds
  • Push-ups (untimed): 21-35
  • Sit ups: 30-38 in one minute
  • 1.5-mile run: 14:31-13:35

Step 3. Video Test and Oral Interview

If you have passed the pre-interview tests then you will get the chance to sit down with a panel of police department officials for an oral panel interview, but first you must take a video assessment test. For this you will be shown a variety of video scenarios and you must write down what you would do in such a situation. The video scenario test and your panel interview will be scored.

Your panel interviewers will talk with you about your responses to the video scenarios and ask you additional questions. Both the video test and panel interview will determine your skills in:

  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Flexibility
  • Persuasiveness

Step 4. Background Investigation

One of the longest parts of the application process for becoming a cop in Vancouver is the background investigation. First you will need to complete a personal history questionnaire that includes information on:

  • Past residences
  • Past employment
  • Credit report and financial institutions where you have accounts
  • Criminal history record
  • Driving record
  • Education record
  • Military history, if any

After a Vancouver PD detective reviews your personal history questionnaire he or she will ask you specific questions regarding the information you have provided. The detective assigned to your application will also conduct interviews with anyone who has known you in the past.

As part of your background investigation you will also be required to complete a polygraph examination and a behavioral traits assessment test. A hiring panel will review your test results and background information, and if you are one of the strongest candidates you will be made a conditional offer of employment.

Step 5. Health Evaluations

This is the final step for you to complete before you are cleared to begin the training academy. You will have two health evaluations that are scheduled by the Vancouver PD:

  • Medical Examination: This will be administered by a physician or physician’s assistant and include a thorough physical, hearing and vision screening, and a drug test.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A licensed psychiatrist will determine if you are mentally fit for a job as a Vancouver police officer and evaluate your ability to work in stressful situations.

Step 6. Training

Your last step before you are eligible to become a fully-certified Vancouver police officer is the completion of your training. This includes an 18-week state-certified training academy and 14 weeks of field training with three different officers at the Vancouver PD. Topics covered throughout your training are:

  • Self-defense and defensive techniques
  • Driving maneuvers
  • Weapons and non-lethal force training
  • CPR and first aid
  • Family issues and domestic violence
  • Patrol strategies
  • Criminal justice system
  • Legal procedures
  • Crime scene/accident investigation
  • Interrogation techniques

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