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How to Become a Police Officer in Michigan

Becoming a Police Officer in Detroit, Michigan

Founded in 1865, the Detroit Police Department has the saying, “We have a polished badge for a polished person.” Detroit police jobs are open to qualified candidates in a competitive application process. Knowing how to become a police officer in Detroit will help you to be a better prepared candidate. The application process proceeds through the following steps:

  1. Minimum Qualifications
  2. MCOLES Test
  3. Pre-Screening Interview and Application Orientation
  4. Background Interview
  5. Oral Board Assessment
  6. Psychological Evaluation and Medical Exam
  7. Basic Training

Step 1. Meet Minimum Qualifications

Before you begin filling out an application, make sure you meet the basic jobs as Detroit police officer requirements:

  • 18 years or older
  • U.S. citizen
  • 20/20 corrected or uncorrected color vision with depth perception
  • Good driving record and Michigan driver’s license
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No felony convictions in general or misdemeanors involving sex crimes

Step 2. Take the MCOLES Test

Once you verify you meet these basic requirements you will complete a Detroit Police Department interest card and receive a pre-employment package including a list of documents you must submit with your application. You will also receive information on the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) test. This is a pre-employment test all must take who want to become a cop in Detroit. It includes two parts: a multiple choice and physical fitness test.

The multiple choice portion consists of 120 questions, half devoted to writing skills and the other half focusing on reading comprehension. You can register for this portion of the test on the MCOLES website or by calling their Performance Based Selection office. The fee for this portion of the test is $62.00.

The physical fitness portion of the test costs $45.00 and must be taken at academies under MCOLES supervision 180 days before your training academy session is scheduled to begin, and no more than 30 days before your background interview (more about these later). The fee can be waived on your first attempt. It does not have to be completed on the same day as your multiple choice test, and is graded on a pass/fail basis in the following events:

  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Vertical jump
  • Half-mile run

Step 3. Pre-Screening Interview and Application Orientation

If you pass the MCOLES written test you will receive a phone call notifying you of the date and time when you can report for a pre-screening interview. You will be questioned by a panel of police department officials who will ask you about your reasons for wanting to become a police officer in Detroit. They will also inquire into any disqualifying circumstances in your background, your previous employment history, and will be particularly concerned about how well you handle stress and  communicate with others.

Assuming your pre-screening interview goes well you will be invited to an application orientation that will take about two hours. Here you will receive your application package and date for your background interview. If you were not selected to continue the application process at this point you will be given a reason.

Step 4. Background Interview

You will be assigned a background investigator who will at minimum determine your minimum requirements are met. This includes conducting a criminal and driving history records check and an investigation of your education diplomas and transcripts. Your investigator may additionally check your previous employment history and request your credit report. Interviews may also be conducted with the following people:

  • Previous employers and coworkers
  • Family and friends
  • Current or previous neighbors or roommates
  • Character references

You will also be required to provide your fingerprints to be used when checking database records. The background check may take a few weeks to complete, and if you are confirmed to have a good character and no disqualifying discoveries have been made, you will proceed to your final interview.

Step 5. Oral Board Assessment

This will be your final departmental interview before officially becoming a cop in Detroit. You may be asked about subjects revealed in your background investigation or any other pertinent questions that did not surface previously. You may also be asked about hypothetical on-the-job scenarios and how you would react. Your application packet thus far will be reviewed and you can talk with police officials about the final steps and procedures you must go through to become certified. Upon a successful interview you will receive a conditional offer of employment.

Step 6. Psychological Evaluation and Medical Exam

Your next step will be to complete a written and oral interview with a licensed psychologist provided by the Detroit Police Department. You will be checked for any psychological circumstances that may conflict with becoming a Detroit police officer and your ability to handle stress will be evaluated. You will receive the results of your psychological evaluation by telephone or mail, and if you have been cleared you will be scheduled for a medical exam.

Your medical exam will include a physical, hearing and vision test, lab work, and may include a drug urinalysis test. Your physical exam will check for the following:

  • Respiratory illness
  • Cardio-vascular disorders including hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Instances of dizziness, blackouts, or migraine headaches
  • Heart problems
  • Anything else that may be problematic based on your medical history

Upon receiving acceptable medical results you will be officially hired by the Detroit Police Department.

Step 7. Basic Training

You are now considered to be a student police officer. Your basic training will consist of 562 hours of classroom work and field exercises, to be completed over a period of 19 weeks. You will live on-campus and receive weekend leave. You must maintain an average in your classroom work of at least 70%. Instruction will be given in the following areas: 

  • Precision and defensive driver training
  • Criminal procedures and law
  • Physical training and conditioning
  • Firearms training
  • First aid and CPR

At the end of your basic training program a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) official will proctor the state MCOLES Final Certification Examination that consists of 200 multiple choice questions and lasts about 3.5 hours. Upon successful completion you will be sworn in and officially become a Detroit police officer.

Becoming a Police Officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Grand Rapids Police Department has been fighting crime in Michigan since 1871, and has grown to a current staffing level of nearly 400.  Grand Rapids police jobs are competitive and only offered to the top-qualifying candidates.

Learning how to become a police officer in Grand Rapids by meeting the established requirements will make you a more confident and better prepared candidate.

  1. Meet the basic qualifications and apply
  2. MCOLES tests
  3. Interview and orientation
  4. Background investigation
  5. Physical and psychological exams
  6. In-house orientation and field training

Step 1. Meet the Basic Qualifications and Apply

Before you fill out any applications, your first step should be to ensure you are capable of meeting police officer requirements in Grand Rapids. You will actually have to meet two sets of standards because becoming a police officer in Grand Rapids requires state certification. However this is not as hard as it sounds because both the city and state requirements are very similar:

  • U.S. citizen
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No felony, domestic violence, or sexual crimes convictions
  • Valid driver’s license
  • At least 18 years old

Once you have verified that you meet the basic requirements you can fill out an application. These are accepted only when there are vacancies for police jobs in Grand Rapids. It is suggested to periodically check the local newspaper classifieds and the Grand Rapids Police Department recruitment webpage for job postings. When you do fill out an application, make sure you do so completely and legibly, signing all necessary forms and including copies or originals of all required documents.

Step 2. MCOLES Tests

When you have heard back from the Grand Rapids PD that your application has been selected you will be required to complete two Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) tests: a pre-employment multiple choice test and a physical fitness test. The multiple choice test consists of 120 questions divided into two sections focusing on writing skills and reading comprehension. The Grand Rapids PD will help you with registration information for this test, and you can also register online.

Your physical fitness test does not have to be taken concurrently with your multiple choice test. The only stipulation is that you must complete the physical fitness test within 180 days of your field training program, which will be discussed later. This test is graded as pass/fail, and includes:

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Half-mile run
  • Vertical jump

Step 3. Interview and Orientation

The Grand Rapids Police Department is an open and welcoming place. It holds periodic open houses for prospective candidates to come with their families and meet the people behind the uniforms. It is a good idea to attend such an event so when the time comes for your interview yours will already be a familiar face. However if you have not already had a station orientation you will have one now, along with your first official interview. This will be conducted by a panel of department officials who will inquire into your previous employment history, how well you can make quick, objective decisions under pressure, your reasons for becoming a cop in Grand Rapids, and your future goals.

Step 4. Background Investigation

Assuming your interview goes well you will proceed to the next step: the background investigation. This portion of the application process may take a few weeks to complete. Information from your initial application, such as your employment history, character references, education record, and military history will be examined by a background investigator assigned to your case. This investigator will at minimum confirm you meet the basic qualifications for police jobs in Grand Rapids, and may conduct interviews with the following people:

  • Ex-spouses or partners
  • Neighbors
  • Friends and family
  • Previous employers and coworkers
  • Former classmates

Step 5. Physical and psychological exams

If your background investigation reveals that you possess a trustworthy and responsible character with no disqualifying circumstances, you will receive a conditional offer of employment. The next step in the process is to show up for your scheduled physical exam. This will include checks for the following:

  • Vision and hearing test
  • Cardiovascular disorders including hypertension
  • Heart disease or problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Urinalysis drug test
  • Any diseases or disorders associated with your medical history

Your psychological exam will be conducted by a licensed psychologist chosen by the Grand Rapids PD. You will be evaluated for your tolerance to stress and mental stability. Upon successful completion of the psychological and physical exam you will be qualified to begin your orientation and field training programs.

Step 6. In-House Orientation and Field Training

Your in-house orientation and field training are nearly the final steps to becoming a fully certified Grand Rapids cop. The orientation is a seven-week program designed to give you experience in the general operations of the Grand Rapids PD. You will meet your fellow coworkers and gain your first on-the-job experience. The field training program lasts an additional 16 weeks, during which you will live on-campus and be allowed time off during the weekends. Between these two programs you will receive training and instruction in:

  • CPR/first aid
  • Firearms
  • Legal procedures
  • Criminal justice system
  • Driving techniques and maneuvers
  • Patrol strategies
  • Administration of field sobriety tests
  • Self-defense techniques
  • Study preparations for the MCOLES certification exam

Once you finish the orientation and field training programs you will need to receive state certification by passing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) exam. You can register for this online and the Grand Rapids PD will also help with you with this process. The test takes approximately 3.5 hours and is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions.

When you receive the news that you have passed the exam you will become certified and sworn into your new job as a Grand Rapids police officer. You will begin your job on probation, which will be lifted after completing a successful year of service.

Becoming a Police Officer in Lansing, Michigan

The Lansing Police Department serves and protects over 114,000 residents and participates in a variety of community programs such as the “Guns for groceries” campaign. Lansing police jobs are reserved for the most highly qualified individuals. Use this guide to learn how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Lansing:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Tests and application
  3. Personal history questionnaire and personality test
  4. Oral board examination
  5. Background investigation
  6. Psychological assessment and physical
  7. MCOLES academy and certification

Step 1. Meeting Minimum Requirements

Before you fill out an application it is recommended to confirm you meet the general police officer requirements in Lansing:

  • At least 21 years old
  • U.S. citizen
  • Michigan driver’s license by the time of hire
  • At least two years of higher education, with a preference for the law enforcement field
  • No felony convictions
  • Good physical condition

Step 2. Taking Tests and Applying

You are required to turn in Michigan Council on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) test results as part of your application. The Lansing Police Department can help you with any questions you have and with the registration process, which you can also do online. Initially you must pass two tests:

  • MCOLES Reading and Writing Test: This is a multiple choice test with 60 questions testing your reading comprehension and 60 testing your writing ability. It is a general abilities test and will not include law enforcement-specific content.
  • MCOLES Physical Fitness Test: This is graded on a pass/fail basis and will require you to complete events of sit and reach, a half mile run, push-ups, and sit-ups. You will be notified of the results on the same day as your test.

The city of Lansing additionally requires you to participate in the Law Enforcement Testing System (LETS). You must complete a LETS exam which is a simple, entry-level test costing $75.00.

Once you have received your official test results, include these and any other documents required with your fully and legibly completed application. Your application must be notarized and you must sign all required forms for it to be accepted.

Step 3. Personal History Questionnaire and Personality Testing

If your application for becoming a police officer in Lansing is determined to be complete and competitive you will be asked to complete a personal history questionnaire and personality test. The questionnaire will ask questions whose answers are the most common disqualifiers or reasons for further investigation. These include the subject areas of:

  • Past criminal history
  • Illegal activities which you have engaged in but for which you have never been caught
  • Past illegal drug sale, purchase, or use, including the abuse of prescription drugs
  • Instances where you have somehow taken advantage of someone
  • Any previous times of dishonesty or theft

Your personality test will determine what type of personality you have. This is useful information that police department officials can use to determine how to give you instructions, criticism, or direction. Department officials do not make any broad assumptions based on the results of the test but do consider it as one of the tools that can be used in to determine if you are a good fit for a Lansing Police Department job.

Step 4. Oral Board Examination

If all goes well with your personal history assessment and personality test you will be scheduled for a panel interview. During this you will be asked about your motivations for wanting to become a cop in Lansing, what you hope to accomplish with the Lansing Police Department, and your future goals in general. A panel of Lansing PD officials will conduct the interview, and you will also have the opportunity to ask any questions of your own.

Step 5. Background Investigation

Once you get past a successful board interview you will begin the process of a background investigation, which may take a few weeks to complete. Your background investigator will be curious about your past employment history and anything else that might determine or affect your performance in a Lansing police officer job. As part of the investigation you will be asked to fill out a background information form. This will include information about your previous jobs, residences, financial institutions with which you do business or have accounts, your driving record, criminal record, and personal history record. Your background investigator may conduct interviews with:

  • Former employers or coworkers
  • Professors or classmates
  • Neighbors
  • Friends and family
  • Fellow religious congregants

Step 6. Psychological Assessment and Medical Physical Exam

Once your background investigation has confirmed you have an upstanding moral character with no reasons for disqualification, you will be scheduled to have a psychological assessment. This will determine how you cope with stress and provide you with suggestions on stress management methods tailored to your personality type. The state of your mental stability will also be assessed during this process.

Your medical physical exam will check to make sure you are in good health and can meet the health standards as set by the Lansing Police Department. You will be assessed for:

  • Hearing and eye sight
  • Medical problems to which you are prone based on your medical history
  • Cardiovascular diseases or disorders, including hypertension
  • Neurological problems including seizures
  • Any blackouts, migraine headaches, or dizziness
  • Urinalysis drug test
  • Diabetes risk

Step 7. Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) Certification and Academy

The Lansing Police Department usually hires people laterally. This means they hire candidates who have already completed a training academy and received some form of either out of state certification, or MCOLES certification. If you are a new recruit this does not have to be an obstacle for you. Talk with the Lansing Police Department about being sponsored to complete an MCOLES-approved basic training academy. This is an academy that lasts a few months, during which time you will receive instruction and training in the subject areas of:

  • Self-defense
  • Driving techniques and maneuvers
  • First aid and CPR
  • Firearms training
  • Legal procedures
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Evidence gathering
  • The criminal justice system
  • Sobriety test administration

Once you complete the training academy you will be ready to complete your final MCOLES Certification Exam. This will take approximately 3.5 hours and consists of 200 multiple choice questions. Upon successful completion you will officially meet the police officer requirements to become a Lansing Police Department officer.

Becoming a Police Officer in Sterling Heights, Michigan

The Sterling Heights police department offers its officers a variety of jobs where they can use their talents and skills – from investigations to community outreach, and from patrol to task force collaboration with other law enforcement agencies.

Sterling Heights police jobs are reserved for the most qualified law enforcement professionals. Follow the six steps in this guide to learn how to become a police officer in Sterling Heights by meeting the department’s rigorous requirements.

  1. Basic requirements
  2. Apply
  3. Interview
  4. Background investigation
  5. Medical exam and psychological evaluation
  6. Final review and MCOLES license

Step 1. Meet Police Officer Requirements in Sterling Heights

The first step to becoming a cop in Sterling Heights is to make sure you meet the basic qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Valid driver’s license
  • At least 21 years old
  • No felony, domestic violence, or sexual crimes convictions
  • Already meet Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) minimum selection standards

MCOLES Minimum Selection Standards

  • Pass a basic reading and writing test: cost is $68.00 and you can register online
  • Pass a physical agility test that includes a half mile run, vertical jump, push-ups and sit-ups
  • Have completed one of the following sources of training:
    • Qualifying previous law enforcement or military experience
    • MCOLES-approved training academy or school: options available for those with or without college degrees

Step 2. Apply

You must wait until there are openings for Sterling Heights police jobs before you can apply. The city offers an email subscription service that will inform you of all new job postings, and it is also recommended to monitor the local job postings. When you do fill out an application, make sure to do so legibly and completely, including all the requested documents and signing all necessary forms.

Step 3. Interview

After determining that your application is competitive, police department officials will conduct an oral panel interview with you. They will determine if you are the best person for the job, asking questions about your previous employment and personal history. One of the most critical job qualifications is for you to possess excellent interpersonal skills, and your ability to communicate will therefore also be thoroughly assessed.

Step 4. Background Investigation

After a successful interview you will move on to the background investigation. In the least, your minimum qualifications for the job as a Sterling Heights cop will be examined. Your application will be assigned a background investigator who will check into your previous employment, education, and criminal records history. The investigator may additionally check your credit report, driving violations history, and personal references. This includes potential interviews with any of the following:

  • Previous colleagues or employers
  • Friends and family
  • Neighbors
  • Former teachers or classmates

Step 5. Medical Exam and Psychological Evaluation

After a background check that reveals no disqualifying circumstances and confirms you have a good moral character, the Sterling Heights police department will schedule you for a physical exam and psychological evaluation. A thorough medical examination will be conducted by a licensed physician and include:

  • EKG test
  • Drug and alcohol test
  • Cardiovascular evaluation
  • Check for respiratory disorders
  • Hearing and vision tests
  • Investigation into any pre-existing conditions
  • Review of your medical history
  • Medical physical

You will also receive an oral psychological evaluation to determine if you possess any psychological features incompatible with police officer jobs in Sterling Heights.

Step 6. Final Review and MCOLES License

This is the final step before you begin your career as a Sterling Heights police officer. The department will conduct a final review of all your credentials and evaluation results, demonstrating that you have the necessary requirements to meet the MCOLES certification standards. A day will be chosen when you will be presented with your MCOLES license and sworn in to the Sterling Heights police department.

Becoming a Police Officer in Warren, Michigan

The Warren Police Department has recently introduced a new online program called, “Neighborhood Net,” that uses the latest technology to quickly spread any alerts throughout the city. Innovators in the police department introduce ideas like this, and that is why Warren police jobs are only available to qualified candidates.

Learn how to become a cop in Warren, Michigan by meeting police officer requirements as described below:

  1. Meet the basic requirements
  2. Application
  3. Interview and Orientation
  4. Background investigation
  5. Medical examination and psychological evaluation
  6. Final review and hire

Step 1. Meeting Police Officer Requirements in Warren

Becoming a police officer in Warren requires you to first meet the minimum requirements for the job:

  • At least 21 years old
  • U.S. citizen
  • Be in good physical shape
  • Relatively clean criminal record with no felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Completion of at least 64 college credits
  • Successful completion of a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES)-approved police academy, or a recognized equivalent law enforcement experience in another state or at the federal level, or previous military experience

To be approved for MCOLES certification you must also pass the following three tests:

  • Multiple Choice Test: This consists of 120 questions, half that assess your writing ability and half that assess your reading comprehension.
  • Physical Agility Test: This test is calibrated by age and gender, with the following being the most stringent requirements, those for males ages 18-29:
    • Vertical Jump: 17.5 inches
    • Sit-ups: 32
    • Push-ups: 30
    • Half-mile run: 4.489 minutes
  • MCOLES Certification Exam: This is to be completed after your police academy training, and is the final requirement you must complete for certification. The exam covers everything you will have learned in the training academy, is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions, and takes approximately 3.5 hours to complete.

Step 2. Application

When you fill out your application make sure you do so completely and legibly. Include all required paperwork: signed forms, photocopies, and original documents. You may only apply for Warren police jobs when they become open, so you will have to monitor this in the local listings. When you have applied, the Warren Police Department will review your application and schedule you for an interview if you are found to be a competitive candidate.

Step 3. Interview and Orientation

You will be interviewed by a panel of Warren police department officials who will determine if you are a good fit for the job. You will be questioned about your previous employment and life experiences and how they might relate to a job as a cop in Warren. You will also have a chance to ask any questions of your own. After your interview you will have an orientation of the Warren police department where you will be informed of basic facility functions and processes.

Step 4. Background Investigation

All Warren police jobs require a background investigation. You will have a background investigator assigned to your application, and you may be required to disclose your former residences, employers, financial history, credit history, friends, character references, and family members. Your background investigator will check your driving abstract record as well as state and national criminal databases for any previous convictions you may have. The investigator may additionally interview any of your old coworkers, neighbors, or anyone else who has observed you over time.

Step 5. Medical Examination and Psychological Evaluation

After a background investigation which reveals you to be of good moral character with no reasons for disqualification, you will be scheduled for a medical examination and psychological evaluation. The medical exam will include:

  • Drug and alcohol test
  • EKG test
  • Checks for any history of black outs, migraines, or dizziness
  • Evaluation of your vital organ functions
  • Blood and lab work
  • Vision and hearing tests
  • Medical physical
  • Check for any cardiovascular or respiratory issues

Your psychological evaluation will determine how well you cope with stress and make sure you are mentally stable.

Step 6. Final Review and Hire

Warren police department officials will complete a final review of all your paperwork and evaluations. Any outstanding issues will be discussed and you will have the opportunity to ask any final questions before a date is selected for you to be sworn into your new job as a Warren police officer.

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