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How to Become a Police Officer in Pennsylvania

Becoming a Police Officer in Allentown, Pennsylvania

Becoming a police officer in Allentown, Pennsylvania means that you would join more than 200 sworn police officers in the “city without limits.” Allentown police jobs are responsible for protecting the city’s almost 120,000 residents. As the population in Allentown has grown by 10 percent since 2000, police officers in Allentown will continue to be in demand.

If you want to discover how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Allentown, keep reading:

  1. Make sure you meet the basic requirements
  2. Attend an information session, interview and examination
  3. Pass a physical exam, reading test and physical fitness test
  4. Pass psychological screening
  5. Attend the Allentown Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Requirements for Allentown Police Academy Entrance

Before applying to become a police officer in Allentown, you must meet these requirements:

  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You will be at least age 21 by the time you attend the Allentown Police Academy
  • You have a high school diploma or GED
  • You have a valid driver’s license
  • You have no criminal convictions above Misdemeanor of the 3rd Degree

If you meet these requirements, complete the Allentown Police Academy Civilian Application. Along with the completed application, send:

  • A copy of your driver’s license
  • High school or college transcripts (only if you have at least 2 semesters of college credit)
  • Copy of your high school diploma or GED
  • Current criminal records check (if a PA resident, get it here)

Send all of the above to Allentown Police Academy, 2110 Park Drive, Allentown, PA 18103.

Step 2. Attend an Information Session, Interview and Civil Service Exam

If you meet the minimum requirements to enter the Allentown Police Academy, you will be notified in writing of the time and place of your information session and interview. This will be held about two months prior to the start of the next class at the Allentown Police Academy.

You must also pass the Civil Service Exam for prospective Allentown police officers. This is in two parts: written and oral boards. The written exam tests basic competency, while the oral boards requires you to answer questions orally that are posed to you by a panel. The questions will revolve around police work.

Step 3. Pass a Physical Exam, Reading Test and Physical Fitness Test

You must get clearance from your physician that you are healthy enough to attend the Allentown Police Academy. Your doctor must perform a full physical examination and you must provide this to the Allentown Police Academy.

Once you have passed the physical exam, you must take the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission Reading Test and Physical Fitness Test. The Nelson-Denny Reading Test of general comprehension and vocabulary will be administered. You must pass this test at a ninth grade level or higher to continue in the process to become a police officer in Allentown.

You must pass the Physical Fitness Test at the 30th percentile or greater for your sex and age. The following exercises must be passed:

  • 300 meter run
  • 1.5 mile run
  • Sit –ups (maximum number you can do in a minute)
  • Bench press

You must pass all of these tests before proceeding in the process to attend the Allentown Police Academy and become a police officer in Allentown.

Step 4. Pass a Psychological Exam

Finally, you will be administered a psychological exam by the Allentown Police Academy’s licensed psychologist. The test is the MMPI, or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. You must pass this test before you may enter the Allentown Police Academy.

Step 5. Attend the Allentown Police Academy

Congratulations! You have succeeded in the application process and are now a member of the next training class at the Allentown Police Academy!

Training lasts approximately 20 weeks, and includes classes in Criminal Law, Firearms, First Aid, Defensive Tactics, Investigations, and Patrol Procedures. You will also be exposed to hands-on situations in which you will learn practical knowledge necessary to become a police officer in Allentown.

The starting salary of an Allentown Police Officer as of January 2013 is $46,856 per year.

Becoming a Police Officer in Erie, Pennsylvania

When the Erie Police Department was founded in 1856, it consisted of three police officers and a Chief of Police. Today, Erie police jobs include 173 active duty police officers. Becoming a police officer in Erie means that you are joining a modern, technologically savvy police department with room for advancement.

This article offers direction on how to become a cop by meeting Police Officer requirements in Erie, Pennsylvania:

  1. Ensure you meet the essential requirements
  2. Pass a written examination and physical agility test
  3. Pass physical, psychological and polygraph testing
  4. Pass a background investigation
  5. Attend Erie Police Officer training

Step 1.  Meet the Essential Requirements for Erie Police Officer Candidacy

There are a few requirements you must fulfill prior to applying to become a police officer in Erie:

  • Be between the ages of 21 and 65
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a resident of Erie or live within a 15 mile radius of Erie
  • Have a current and valid driver’s license

If you qualify and there is an opening for a police officer job in Erie, you may pick up an application packet at the Human Resources Office, Room 300, Erie City Hall, 626 State St., Erie, PA 16501. You must return the completed, notarized application with a check for $50 payable to the City of Erie Civil Service Board one month prior to the next scheduled Civil Service Exam.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Physical Agility Test

You will next take the written Civil Service Examination to become a police officer in Erie. This exam tests your basic competency, and must be passed before you can move on in the hiring process. You must pass the exam before you will be placed on a list of eligible individuals. Your score on the exam will determine your placement on the list.

If you pass the exam, you may be called for a Physical Agility Test. This is a pass/fail test, which means that you must pass all of the events included within the test:

  • Timed 300 meter dash
  • Timed 1.5 mile run
  • Bench presses
  • Maximum number of sit ups you can perform in 60 seconds

Passing this exam keeps your name on the eligible list, where it will remain for two years or until Erie has police officer vacancies.

Step 3. Pass Physical, Psychological, and Polygraph Testing

If a vacancy arises in the City of Erie Police Department, your name may be chosen to participate in the hiring process. You must next pass a series of tests before continuing. First is a physical examination. This is designed to determine your physical fitness and suitability for the job of police officer in Erie. You must meet vision, hearing, cardiovascular and fitness requirements.

Next, you must participate in psychological testing, which is administered by a licensed psychologist chosen by the Erie Police Department. Usually the MMPI-2 personality test is administered, and you may also interview with the psychologist before moving forward in the hiring process to become a police officer in Erie.

Finally, you must pass a polygraph test. This will be administered by a licensed, trained professional.

If you pass these tests, you will be issued a tentative job offer to become a police officer in Erie. The offer is contingent upon you passing the background investigation in the next step.

Step 4. Pass a Background Investigation

You must pass a thorough background investigation before you can attend police officer training to become a police officer in Erie. This investigation will explore the following areas in your personal history:

  • Credit/financial
  • Employment
  • Educational
  • Residential
  • Personal
  • Family
  • Military
  • Criminal

If you pass the background investigation, you will receive a final offer of employment with the Erie Police Department as a police officer.

Step 5. Attend Erie Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have made it through the long process to become a police officer in Erie! Now you must attend Erie police officer training. This is held at the Municipal Police Training Academy at Mercyhurst North East University. Training lasts for 21 weeks and includes Act 120 certification, necessary to become a police officer in Erie. When you complete the academy’s training, you will have earned 16 college credits towards a two-year criminal justice degree.

Upon graduation, you will be a police officer in Erie. You must now train in the field with a senior officer for 90 days.

As of 2012, a new police officer in Erie earns $36,987 per year. After 3 years, the salary increases to $62,261 per year.

Becoming a Police Officer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Police Department is the fourth largest police department in the United States and supports jobs for 6600 sworn officers and 800 civilian employees. Becoming a police officer in Philadelphia means that you will serve a 140 square mile area housing 1.5 million people. There are 22 police districts within the Department, and 55 different locations in which to work in Philadelphia.

This manual provides information on how to become a cop in Philly by meeting the department’s police officer requirements:

  1. Verify you meet the basic conditions
  2. Pass a written examination and reading examination
  3. Pass a physical fitness test, drug screening, and interview
  4. Pass a background investigation, medical and psychological exams, and polygraph test
  5. Attend the Philadelphia Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Conditions for Philadelphia Police Officer Candidacy

Before applying to become a police officer in Philadelphia, you must meet some basic conditions:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school diploma/GED
  • Have one of the following:
    • 60 college credits (GPA must be at least 2.0)
    • One full year’s worth of experience in law enforcement
    • Completed the program for Philadelphia Police Explorer Cadets
  • Three years of driving experience
  • Become a resident of Philadelphia no later than one year after becoming a police officer in Philadelphia
  • Preference is given to veterans
  • Preference is given to those fluent in another language or American Sign Language

Do you meet these basic conditions? Apply to become a Philly Police Officer Recruit online before the closing date of the job posting. You will also be asked to submit or upload a copy of your college transcript, copy of state or federal Law Enforcement Officer Certification, or copy of DD-214 military discharge papers.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Reading Examination

If you provide an email address when you apply to become a police officer in Philadelphia, you will receive notification via email of the date and time of the next Civil Service examination. This basic competency written exam lasts two and a half hours and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You must also pass the Nelson-Denny Reading Test, which lasts about a half hour and measures your reading comprehension and vocabulary.

Step 3. Pass a Physical Fitness Test, Drug Screening, and Personal Data Questionnaire Interview

Passing the exams in Step 2 places you on an eligibility list, from which you may be called to participate in the police officer hiring process. Next, you must pass a Physical Fitness and Agility Test. You must meet standards adjusted for sex and age in the following exercises:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • Sit-ups
  • Bench press
  • 300 meter run

You must complete a Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ), an extensive questionnaire about your history and background.  You may complete the PDQ at home then submit it in person to the Internal Investigations Unit office on Hunting Park Avenue. A background investigator will interview you on its contents prior to beginning the background investigation in the next step.

Step 4. Pass a Background Investigation, Medical Exam, Psychological Exam and Polygraph Test

The Recruit Background Investigations Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department will conduct a thorough background check on you. They will contact people whom you have known, including family, neighbors, friends, employers, teachers, co-workers and other associates. It must be discovered that you possess high moral and ethical standards before you can proceed in the next phase of the hiring process to become a police officer in Philadelphia.

If you pass the background check, you will move on to a thorough medical evaluation. Your medical history will be taken and an EKG performed. Your corrected vision must be 20/20 in each eye. You will undergo color blindness tests and breathing tests. At this time, you will also be subjected to a drug screening test. If hired, you can expect to experience random drug screening tests during your career as a police officer in Philadelphia.

If you pass the medical evaluation, you will proceed to the psychological evaluation. You must take the MMPI-2 personality test, administered via computer. Then, a State of Pennsylvania licensed psychologist will interview you for one hour.

Finally, you will undergo a polygraph test. The test is administered by an outside agency and lasts approximately two hours. Passing this test will earn you a spot on an eligibility list, from which candidates will be selected to participate in training and to become a police officer in Philadelphia.

Step 5. Attend Philadelphia Police Officer Training

Congratulations! If you have made it this far, you have passed all of the necessary tests and evaluations and were called from the eligibility list to participate in training! You will spend the next 32 weeks at the Philadelphia Police Academy learning basic law enforcement strategies, duties and tasks. Upon graduation, you will be placed into the Patrol Division of the Philadelphia Police Department. For the first year and a half, you will work under probation. After that time, you may switch to another division within the department if a vacancy arises.

As of 2013, the salary for a Philadelphia police officer is $42,474 per year.

Becoming a Police Officer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Police Department was established in 1857, with one chief and nine constables. Today the Pittsburgh Police Department supports jobs for about 900 sworn police officers. Pittsburgh has been named one of the safest cities in the United States, thanks in large part to the men and women on the city’s police force. Becoming a police officer in Pittsburgh means that you will help to continue this tradition of public safety and crime prevention.

Below you will find instructions on how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Pittsburgh:

  1. Confirm that you meet the general requirements
  2. Pass written and oral examinations
  3. Pass a background investigation, polygraph, physical fitness and reading tests
  4. Pass psychological and medical evaluations
  5. Attend the Pittsburgh Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the General Requirements for Pittsburgh Police Officer Candidacy

You must meet the following general requirements before applying to become a police officer in Pittsburgh:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You are a resident of Pittsburgh
  • You have a current and valid Pennsylvania Class C driver’s license
  • You have a high school diploma/GED
  • You have completed at least 30 semester credits of college coursework at an accredited university or college (by the time you enter the Police Academy, you must have completed at least 60 semester credits)

Do you meet these general requirements? If so, you may apply online to become a police officer in Pittsburgh.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Oral Examination

When the recruitment period for the Pittsburgh police officer job opening has closed, applications will be reviewed by Personnel Analysts. If you meet the minimum requirements for the job, you will be contacted and scheduled to take the Civil Service examinations. First is the written exam, the Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEAB). This multiple-choice test has three parts: one tests your cognitive abilities, and the other two test your work styles and life experience.

Secondly, you must pass the Civil Service oral exam. This is taken before an oral board panel, and addresses your verbal abilities. You will be presented with sample situations and must explain how you would handle them and why.

If you pass the Civil Service exams, your name will be placed on an eligibility list. You may be called from this list to participate in the hiring process to become a police officer in Pittsburgh.  You will be ranked on this list according to your total Civil Service exam score. Your name will remain on this list for 18 months.

Step 3. Pass a Background Investigation, Polygraph Test, Physical Fitness Test and Reading Test

If you are called from the eligibility list, a background investigation will commence. This will include a polygraph test. All areas of your life history – criminal, civil, personal, employment, education, residential, credit, military and behavioral – will be thoroughly explored by a background investigator of the Pittsburgh Police Department. You must pass this investigation and polygraph test before the hiring process will continue.

Next is the State of Pennsylvania Municipal Officers’ Education and Training Commission Physical Fitness and Reading Testing. The reading test is the Nelson-Denny vocabulary and comprehension exam, which requires that you read at a minimum of a ninth grade level in order to pass. For physical fitness testing, you must score in at least the 30th percentile for your gender and age on the following:

  • 300 meter run
  • Bench press ratio
  • One minute sit ups
  • 1 ½ mile run

Passing these tests will earn you a conditional offer of employment to become a police officer in Pittsburgh. The offer is contingent upon you passing the tests listed in the next step.

Step 4. Pass Psychological and Medical Evaluations

You have reached this step if you have a conditional offer of employment. You must now pass psychological and medical testing.

In the Psychological Suitability Evaluation, you must take a written assessment and meet with a licensed psychologist for an interview.

For the Medical Examination, your health and fitness will be evaluated to make sure you can physically handle the demands of becoming a police officer in Pittsburgh. You may take a treadmill test, vision test, blood test, and hearing test.

If you pass both of these evaluations, you will receive a final offer of appointment as a police officer in Pittsburgh.

Step 5. Attend Pittsburgh Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have received an offer to become a police officer in Pittsburgh! You must now complete training at the Pittsburgh Police Academy. This training lasts for 32 weeks and includes both hands-on practice and classroom coursework. While you are in training, as of 2012 you will earn $13.69 per hour (translates to $28.475 per year). After graduation from the Pittsburgh Police Academy, you will earn $40,896 during your first year of work as a police officer in Pittsburgh.

Becoming a Police Officer in Reading, Pennsylvania

Police officer jobs may be available within the many divisions of the City of Reading Police Department, including Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Bomb Squad, VICE and K-9 Unit. Becoming a police officer in Reading means that you will be in charge of serving and protecting the city’s 80,000 residents. It is a challenging yet rewarding career choice.

The following guide presents instructions on how to become a cop in Reading by meeting police officer requirements:

  1. Validate that you meet the basic prerequisites
  2. Pass a written examination and complete an application
  3. Pass a physical fitness test, oral exam and criminal history check
  4. Pass medical, psychological, drug and background testing
  5. Attend Reading Police Officer Training

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Prerequisites for Reading Police Officer Candidacy

In order to become a police officer in Reading, you must first:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Live within a 25 mile radius of Reading’s City Hall
  • Preference is given to applicants who are fluent in Spanish

If you meet these basic prerequisites, you may go on to the next step.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Complete a Civil Service Application

When police officer vacancies occur, the Reading Police Department offers the Civil Service Exam on a walk-in basis. Just make sure that you meet the requirements in Step 1 so that you are not wasting your time taking the exam. You must bring a valid driver’s license with you on the day of the exam. The written exam will be scored on the same day you take it. If you pass, you must be prepared to file a Civil Service Application that day for the position of police officer in Reading. A $25 fee accompanies this application.

Step 3. Pass a Physical Fitness Test, Oral Exam and Criminal History Check

If you pass the Civil Service exam and file the application, you may be contacted to participate in the hiring process to become a police officer in Reading. The next step involves passing a Physical Fitness Test. You must pass the following four events to the standards for your gender and age:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • Bench press
  • One minute sit-ups
  • 300 meter run

Next, you will participate in an oral examination. This exam is conducted by the Reading Police Civil Service Board, and is part exam/part interview. You will be posed questions regarding police work and your suitability for it.

Finally, you must pass a criminal history check. If you pass these three evaluations, you will be placed on a list of eligible persons. Your name will remain on the list no longer than one year. As vacancies arrive, you may be called from this list and receive a conditional offer of employment to become a police officer in Reading. You must successfully pass the tests in Step 4 before you will receive a final offer to become a police officer in Reading

Step 4. Pass a Medical Exam, Psychological Exam and Drug Screening Test and Background Check

If you are called from the eligible list and receive a conditional job offer to become a police officer in Reading, you must still pass medical, psychological and drug tests, as well as a complete background check. Medically, you must be able to physically perform the duties of a Reading police officer. Your vision, hearing, weight/height ratio and cardiovascular capacity may be checked. You must also pass a drug screening test at this time.

You must pass psychological evaluation by a licensed psychologist. This entails taking the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) test and meeting for a face-to-face interview with the psychologist.

Then, you must undergo a complete background check. This will delve into your background in all areas: criminal, civil, personal, residential, educational, employment, and credit.

If you pass these tests, you will receive a final job offer to become a Reading Police Officer.

Step 5. Attend Reading Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have succeeded in the lengthy hiring process and are now a Reading Police Officer candidate! The next step is to attend the Basic Police Training Course at Reading Police Academy, located on the campus of Alvernia University. The course lasts for 820 hours or 20 weeks. Upon graduation, you will be a certified police officer in Reading.

As of 2011, a Police Officer Trainee earns $57,674.76 per year.

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