Becoming a Police Officer in Washington, DC

The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department is unique in that it needs to be vigilant of terrorist crimes aimed at disrupting the nation’s government, while at the same time carrying out standard law enforcement duties just like any other police department of a similar size.

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If you are interested in a job with the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department and feel like you have the drive and ideals to join the ranks of the capital’s finest, then review this guide to learn how to become a cop in the District:

  1. Minimum Requirements and Application
  2. Applicant Processing Day
  3. Background Investigation
  4. Medical and Psychological Evaluation
  5. Training Academy

Step 1. Meeting Minimum Requirements and Submitting an Application

Before you do anything else you should first verify that you meet the police officer requirements as established and maintained by the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department:

  • U.S. citizen
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Driver’s license
  • Mostly clean driving and criminal history
  • Be at least 18 years old

When you can confirm you meet the minimum qualifications for becoming a police officer in Washington DC then your next step will be to fill out an online application at the department’s website. This will entail creating an online profile, answering some basic questions, and providing some initial information.

Upon completing the online application you will receive a list of upcoming new applicant orientation dates. RSVP to one of these in the near future, attend the orientation, and fill out an online qualifications survey within 72 hours of your attendance. You will be given instructions for how to complete this survey during your orientation.

Step 2. Applicant Processing Day

Once you complete the online qualifications survey you will be scheduled for an applicant processing day that involves the following five events:

  • Physical Ability Test: You must complete this test in order to demonstrate you have the physical capabilities for what it takes to be a DC cop. The test is meant to simulate a foot chase of a suspect and includes the following events which you must complete in one minute and 28 seconds:
    • You will begin the course by being given the description of a suspect
    • Run through an obstacle course
    • Climb stairs
    • Drag a weighted dummy
    • Limbo under a barricade
    • Climb a fence
    • Repeat the suspect description you received at the beginning
    • Dry-fire a weapon (not timed)
  • Your next event will be to complete a written examination. This will be a basic evaluation of your skills in:
    • Mathematics
    • Reading comprehension
    • Writing ability
    • Problem solving
    • Critical thinking
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  • The third event will be the submission of a writing sample. You will be given a choice of topics to write about and you will write a few paragraphs to demonstrate your abilities in:
    • Grammar
    • Spelling
    • Punctuation
    • Vocabulary
    • Sentence structure
  • The fourth event will be a screening to discuss the background orientation packet and personal history statement. You will need to complete both these forms that focus on different aspects of your background. You will need to bring all required and supplemental documents when you meet with your screener, who will determine if you have any immediately disqualifying circumstances.
  • Finally you will finish the Applicant Processing Day by being fingerprinted. These will be checked against state and federal criminal record databases.

Step 3. Background Investigation

Police officer requirements in Washington DC require all sworn officers to have thorough and extensive background investigations. A detective will be assigned to you who will first review your background orientation packet and personal history statement. Your detective will ask you for any clarifying details that may be required or for further explanations about subjects that could be grounds for disqualification.

Your background investigation detective will next check your records. He or she will confirm you meet the initial requirements for DC police officer jobs, such as:

  • Employment history
  • Education experience
  • Driving record
  • Criminal record
  • Financial records
  • Military records

Your detective will also conduct interviews with anyone who has known you over some period of time. This could be anyone from your friends and family to former classmates or neighbors. In the least, your background investigation detective will interview the personal references you provided on your initial application.

Finally you will undergo a polygraph examination conducted by a polygraph professional. Any issues that have been cause for concern up to this point will be reexamined and you may be asked questions on completely new subjects. In any case, it is much better to be honest in all your answers because any statements found to be untruthful will be grounds for the immediate termination of your application.

Step 4. Medical and Psychological Evaluation

Your medical evaluation will be administered by a licensed doctor who will give you a thorough medical physical, a vision and hearing screening, and a drug test. Your psychological evaluation will ensure you have stable mental health and can withstand the stresses that come with the job of a DC police officer.

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Step 5. Training Academy

After acceptance in a final review process, you will be eligible to begin training at the Metropolitan Police Academy. This is a 28-week program that teaches you the basics of everything you will need to know in order to start your career with success. As a new DC police officer your 18-month initial probation period will include time spent at the training academy. Subjects covered include:

  • Ethics
  • Community policing
  • Traffic regulation
  • Human relations
  • Laws of search, seizure and arrest
  • Criminal law
  • Firearms training
  • Physical endurance training
  • Driving maneuvers
  • Self-defense

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