• Find A Program

How to Become a Police Officer in South Dakota

Becoming a Police Officer in Aberdeen, South Dakota

The City of Aberdeen is a relatively small community with just over 26,000 residents, but it is the 3rd largest city in South Dakota. The Aberdeen Police Department is staffed with 42 commissioned/sworn officers and 8 civilians, in addition to many volunteers.

Here, you will learn how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Aberdeen in just five steps:

  1. Meet Minimum Requirements/Required Skills
  2. Submit Application
  3. Pre-employment Testing
  4. Medical/Psychological Evaluations
  5. Training/Certification

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements/Required Skills

In order to be considered for employment with the Aberdeen Police Department, you will need to meet the minimum requirements:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age
  • You must have a valid driver’s license
  • You must be a United States citizen
  • You must have either a high school diploma or a GED equivalency

You will need to disclose any prior offenses (felony or misdemeanor) on your application. However, the Aberdeen Police Department reviews these offenses, including their seriousness and any course of rehabilitation, and does not necessarily disqualify candidates based on prior offenses.

You will also need to ensure that you meet the APD’s required skills:

  • Maintain physical fitness
  • Obtain the appropriate skills needed to use firearms and applicable police equipment
  • Adequate verbal communication
  • Safe/appropriate use of police vehicles
  • Be able to use computers for reports and documentation

Step 2. Submit Application

You can obtain an application here. Of note, you will be required to provide copies of the following documents with your application:

  • Certified birth certificate
  • Form DD-214 if you have a military history
  • Driver’s licenses from all states
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Any college diplomas earned

Step 3. Pre-employment Testing

The Aberdeen Police Department has a very thorough testing process for police officer selection. Once you have met the prerequisite requirements and a full review of your application has been done, you will be chosen to take the next step in the hiring process which is the pre-employment testing procedures.

The background investigation requires that you sign a Release of Personal Information which allows the APD to do a complete background investigation. The background check includes looking at things like your financial/credit history, employment/work records, educational records, military service records if applicable as well as verifying previous residences.  A criminal record check is also done as part of the investigation, and in addition, the APD will require you to provide fingerprints as well.

A polygraph examination is also required for police officer employment. You will need to sign a release form allowing the APD to conduct a polygraph so that they can verify the background information you have provided.

Step 4. Medical/Psychological Evaluation

The next thing you will do in the selection process is complete the medical and psychological evaluations. The purpose of the medical evaluation is to ensure that you are physically capable of performing the tasks required of a police officer. The medical evaluation also includes a drug screen to check for illicit substances. Likewise, the psychological evaluation is used to ensure that you have the mental stability to handle the pressing situations which police officers often encounter.

Step 5. Training/Certification

Once you have received an official job offer from the Aberdeen Police Department, the next step will be to obtain your Basic Officer Certification. Your certification and training will be done at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, South Dakota. The entire training process typically takes about 13 weeks to complete and encompasses a total of 520 hours. Your training will include:

  • Proper use of firearms
  • Defense tactics/use of force
  • Legal aspects
  • Policies/procedures/practices
  • Human/social behavior
  • Operation of emergency vehicles

Becoming a Police Officer in Brookings, South Dakota

The City of Brookings is the 4th largest city in South Dakota with a population of roughly 20,000 residents. In 2011, the Brookings Police Department (BPD) responded to 44,616 calls, 7,859 emergency calls, and issued 7,644 citations. The BPD has a total authorized force of 32 sworn officers.

Here, you will find comprehensive information about how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Brookings in just six steps:

  1. Meet Minimum Qualifications
  2. Complete/Submit Application
  3. Testing Phase
  4. Conditional Employment Offer
  5. Pre-employment Screening
  6. Training and Certification

Step 1. Meet Minimum Qualifications

If you are interested in becoming a police officer for the Brookings Police Department, the first thing to do is ensure that you meet the minimum qualifications:

  • You need to be at least 21 years old prior to the written test
  • You must be a citizen of the United States
  • You must possess either a high school diploma or GED
  • You must have a driver’s license and clear driving record
  • You must be eligible for certification (South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission)
  • You must not have any prior felonies, serious misdemeanors or convictions related to domestic violence

It is also important to mention that the Brookings Police Department gives preference to candidates with:

  • Associate’s degree in any field
  • Two years of college in a criminal justice field
  • Military police history (honorable discharge)
  • Current law enforcement certification
  • 1+ years of previous law enforcement experience
  • 3+ years working for the City of Brookings Police Department Reserve Force

Step 2. Complete/Submit Application

You can get an employment application here. You can submit your application in person to the Human Resources Department at the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. You can also fax (605-697-8661) or email (dlangland@cityofbrookings.org) your application.

Step 3. Testing Phase

The next step in the employment process is the testing phase, which includes a variety of tests used to assess your candidacy. First, you will complete the written examination, which is pretty standard test for most government jobs. The test is used to assess your general fund of knowledge as well as your ability to read, write, and use critical thinking skills.

Next, you will complete a physical agility test. This test is used to evaluate your ability to meet the physical requirements of a police officer as outlined by the Brookings Police Department:

  • Lift/move up to 10 pounds on a regular basis
  • Lift/move up to 25 pounds of a frequent basis
  • Lift/move up to 100 pounds on an occasional basis

Your physical stamina will also be tested to assess your endurance under adverse conditions.

The next step in the testing phase is the criminal background investigation. The Brookings Police Department requires you not to have any prior felonies, serious misdemeanors or convictions related to a domestic violence charge. This will be thoroughly investigated and verified during the background check. The polygraph test is also typically done at this time to verify and confirm the information provided on your employment application.

Step 4. Conditional Employment Offer

Once you have completed the preliminary testing, you will receive a conditional offer of employment. The offer will be contingent upon completing the remaining examinations required including the alcohol and drug screen, physical exam, and psychological evaluation.

Step 5. Pre-employment Screening

Now you will move onto completing the rest of the pre-employment screening exams. The first will be the physical examination which will be done by a licensed physician. The exam will include a thorough health screen and will assess your physical limitations, if any. The Brookings Police Department requires a corrected vision of at least 20/40 in each eye, so your visual acuity will be checked as well. In conjunction with the physical exam, you will also need to complete the alcohol and drug screen.

Next, you will complete the psychological evaluation. This test will determine whether you possess the personality/character traits desired by the Brookings Police Department and also ensure that you are mentally stable to perform work as a police officer.

Step 6. Training and Certification

Now that you have completed your pre-employment screening, you will be ready to proceed with training and certification. The Brookings Police Department conducts its training at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center. The training lasts roughly 13 weeks and includes about 520 hours total of training. Some of the aspects covered during the training include:

  • Administration of first aid
  • Performance in stressful situations
  • Firearm use
  • Policies and procedures
  • State and federal law

Becoming a Police Officer in Rapid City, South Dakota

The Rapid City Police Department serves and protects the second largest city in the state of South Dakota, in addition to the nearly two million tourists who visit the Black Hills region throughout the year.

Here you will learn more about becoming a police officer in Rapid City, South Dakota in just five steps:

  1. Meet Requirements/Qualifications
  2. Submit Your Application
  3. Testing Process
  4. Contingent/Official Job Offer
  5. Academy Training

Step 1. Meet Requirements/Qualifications

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • At least 21 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Valid state driver’s license
  • No prior felony convictions or serious misdemeanor offenses
  • Capable of obtaining certification from the Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission within 1 year
  • Capable of obtaining certification from the National Crime Information Center within 6 months

The Rapid City Police Department also requires that you have academic experience which fits into one of these categories:

  • Associate degree (64 credit hours) from an accredited school, or
  • 4 years’ previous law enforcement experience (certified), or
  • 4 years’ active military experience, or
  • Combination of experience/education which would be equivalent

Step 2. Submit Your Application

You can complete your application online by creating an account here.  You can also contact the Human Resources Department directly at 605-394-4136 if you have further questions.

Step 3. Testing Process

The Rapid City Police Department employment process is a lengthy one. On occasion, the process may take just a few weeks, but more often, the entire process from application to official job offer takes several months.

The Rapid City Police Department has a unique hiring process in that they do all of their testing on one schedule day, so you should plan on spending an entire day in Rapid City during the testing process. It is important to mention that you must pass each individual test before you can proceed to the next one. The first of the tests that you will take is the grammar and report writing test, which is a basic assessment of your ability to read, write, and complete reports.

The next test is the written examination. This is a timed, computer-based test. The test is divided into 2 sections: Booklet I and Booklet II. Booklet I consists of 30 observational questions with a time limit of 25 minutes. Booklet II consists of 70 questions with a time limit of 135 minutes. The last 11 questions of Booklet II are coined as text interpretation questions and will take a bit longer to complete.

Next, you will participate in the physical fitness test, which will include sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1-1/2-mile run. The standards of passing these tests are delineated as follows:

Men

Age
1-1/2-Mile Run
Sit-ups
20-24
13 min:15 sec
40
25-29
13 min:45 sec
40
30-34
14 min:15 sec
36
35-39
14 min:45 sec
36
40-44
15 min:15 sec
31
45-49
15 min:45 sec
31
50-54
16 min:15 sec
26
55-59
16 min:51 sec
26
60 and older
18 min:20 sec
20

Women

Age
1-1/2-Mile Run
Sit-ups
20-24
15 min:15 sec
35
25-29
15 min:45 sec
35
30-34
16 min:15 sec
27
35-39
16 min:38 sec
27
40-44
17 min:00 sec
22
45-49
17 min:08 sec
22
50-54
17 min:15 sec
17
55-59
18 min:18 sec
17
60 and older
19 min:25 sec
8

After passing all written exams and the physical fitness test, you will move onto the oral interview. The interview is done by an interview board/panel, and you will be expected to present in business casual clothing, so it is important to remember to bring a change of clothes with you on the testing date. Based on your tests and suitability for the job, the interview board will determine if you move on in the hiring process.

Step 4. Contingent/Official Job Offer

Once you have successfully completed and passed the written examinations, physical fitness test, and oral interview, you will receive a contingent job offer. The offer is contingent because you will still need to go through the background check, psychological and medical exams, and potentially a polygraph test.  After completing the requirements as outlined by the contingent offer, the Chief of Police will personally review you as a candidate and extend an official offer of employment to you.

Step 5. Academy Training

Now that you have been hired by the Rapid City Police Department, your first several weeks will be spent training in the classroom. Then, you will complete 13 weeks of training at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center which is located in Pierre, South Dakota. Here, you will complete 520 hours of training finishing with graduation and your certification as a South Dakota Law Enforcement Officer. Your training will include things like:

  • Police procedures/practices
  • Firearms
  • Legal concepts
  • Human/social behavior
  • Operation of emergency vehicles
  • Defense tactics/use of force

Becoming a Police Officer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

With Sioux Falls being the largest city in South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Police Department has the responsibility of serving the city’s 160,000 residents. In fact, the department supports a total of 230 jobs, and in 2010, the department responded to nearly 85,000 calls.

Here, you will find detailed information on how to become a police officer in Sioux Falls in just 8 steps:

  1. Meet Basic Qualifications
  2. Complete and Submit Application
  3. Written Examinations
  4. Oral Interview
  5. Conditional Job Offer
  6. Psychological Exam/Background Check
  7. Medical Examination
  8. Final Approval

Step 1. Meet Basic Qualifications

The first step toward eligibility for jobs with the Sioux Falls Police Department is meeting the basic qualifications, which include:

  • High school diploma/GED
  • Minimum of 21 years of age
  • Legal citizen of the United States
  • Have or obtain a driver’s license
  • Eligible for certification as outlined by the South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission
  • No history of unlawful use of prescription medications, controlled drugs, or marijuana for at least 1 year prior to application
  • No convictions (state or federal) punishable by imprisonment

As of January of 2011, the Sioux Falls Police Department also added the following requirements for police officers:

  • Minimum correctable vision of 20/40 in each eye and not color blind
  • Auditory requirements: You must be able to hear a forced whisper at a distance of no less than 5 feet. You must not have any hearing loss in your better ear of more than 40 decibels at 500, 1,000, and 2,000 Hz.

Step 2. Complete and Submit Application

Once you have completed your application, you can create an online account through the SFPD’s web portal and submit your application online.  You can also contact Human Resources at 605-367-8740 with any questions.

Step 3. Written Examinations

The next step in the selection process is completing the written examinations. The first test you will take is known as the Civil Service Examination. This test is a comprehensive aptitude test and is pretty standard to most government positions.

The next test that you will complete is known as the Behavioral Personnel Assessment Device, or B-PAD. The B-PAD test consists of video scenarios that you watch on a computer monitor. During the test, you are presented with a series of real-life police scenarios, and you respond verbally to the situations presented to you. The test is videotaped so that your responses can later be evaluated. You don’t need any previous law enforcement experience in order to respond correctly on this test. The test is simply used to evaluate your communication skills and the methodology of your behavior.

You will need a passing score on both of these examinations before you can proceed to the next step in the selection process.

Step 4. Oral Interview

Next, you will be selected for an oral interview. During the interview, your resume will be reviewed as well as your scores on the Civil Service Examination and the Behavioral Personnel Assessment Device (B-PAD). You will need a passing score on the interview in order to be selected to continue on in the selection process.

Step 5. Conditional Job Offer

The Human Resources Department ranks all of its candidates by their scores on the Civil Service Examination, Behavioral Personnel Assessment Device (B-PAD), and oral interview. Based on those scores, you will then receive a conditional job offer. The job offer is contingent and depends upon how you score on the remainder of the required tests.

Step 6. Psychological Exam/Background Check

Now that you have received your conditional job offer, you will proceed by completing the psychological evaluation and the background check. The psychological evaluation is done by a licensed psychiatrist, and the evaluation is used to determine your mental stability and capacity for performing the tasks required of a police officer. The background check is very thorough and often includes reviewing things like your prior employment and academic history, military experience, any criminal history you may have as well as contacting and verifying your personal references. During the background check, you will also be asked to complete a polygraph test.

Step 7. Medical Examination

Once you have passed the psychological exam and your background has checked out, you will complete the next step in the selection process which is the medical exam. The medical examination will be done by a licensed physician, and it will be used to ensure that you are physically capable of working as a police officer.

Step 8. Final Approval

Lastly, the Human Resources Department will rank its candidates based on their combined scores from all of the required testing. You will then receive final approval and an official job offer.

Congratulations! After all of the hard work you have done, you are now a police officer in Sioux Falls.

Becoming a Police Officer in Watertown, South Dakota

The Watertown Police Department proudly serves approximately 22,000 residents with a total of 35 sworn and 19 non-sworn personnel. The Department patrols approximately 27 square miles and responds to an estimated 30,000 calls each year.

Below, you will learn about becoming a police officer in Watertown in eight steps:

  1. Recommended Minimum Qualifications
  2. Submit Your Application
  3. Civil Service Process
  4. Departmental Oral Interview
  5. Background Examination
  6. Conditional Employment Offer
  7. Training Process
  8. Training for Certification

Step 1. Recommended Minimum Qualifications

The first step to becoming a police officer in Watertown is to review the list of recommended minimum qualifications and ensure that you meet them. These qualifications include:

  • High school graduate/ GED
  • Prior law enforcement/criminal justice training or police experience is preferable
  • Driver’s license
  • At least 21 years of age

Ability to obtain the following certifications within 1 year is also required:

  • Basic South Dakota law enforcement
  • First aid and CPR
  • Certification to operate radar equipment and breathalyzers (portable breath test)
  • Use of firearms
  • Hazmat

Step 2. Submit Your Application

You can obtain an employment application here or at the City of Watertown Finance Office. You can also contact Captain Ryan Remmers at 605-882-6210 with any questions about police officer employment.

You will likely be asked to provide copies of the following documents:

  • DD-214, if you have military experience
  • Social security card
  • Driver’s license
  • High school diploma and any college degrees earned
  • Proof of citizenship

Step 3. Civil Service Process

The next step in the hiring process is known as the civil service process. First, you will take the civil service written exam. This test is used to assess your general scholastic ability and typically includes things like grammar, reading comprehension, writing, arithmetic, judgment, and reasoning. After passing this test, you will go on to complete the civil service oral interview.

Step 4. Departmental Oral Interview

After you satisfactorily pass the civil service process, you be called for a departmental oral interview. This interview will be done by the Watertown Human Resources Department. You will be asked a specific set of predetermined questions, and time will be given for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if needed. You may also be asked questions about your resume and previous history during the interview. The interviewer will then make recommendations about you candidacy directly to the Chief of Police.

Step 5. Background Examination

Once you have completed the departmental oral interview and been chosen as a candidate, you will complete the background examination. This examination is done by the Captain of Professional Standards or someone designated by the Chief of Police. The background check includes:

  • Review of credit history
  • Review of your driving history
  • Criminal background investigation
  • National Database (checks to see if a previous law enforcement certification has been revoked)
  • Prior employment history
  • Interview of personal acquaintances
  • Thorough review of personal references

Next, you will proceed to the polygraph examination. This is conducted as part of the background investigation as well and is used to ensure that the information you have provided corresponds to the findings on the background check. The Captain of Professional Standards or designee of the Chief of Police will then make recommendations about your candidacy.

Step 6. Conditional Employment Offer

Now that your background has checked out, you will receive a conditional employment offer. Before you can be officially hired by the Watertown Police Department, you will still have to complete a medical exam and psychological testing. The psychological evaluation assesses your mental status and suitability for work as a police officer.

The medical exam is done by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner. It will include a review of your past medical records to determine if there are any limitations which would prohibit you from working as a police officer. Additionally, you will also complete a full drug screen panel.

Step 7. Training Process

The first part of your employment with the Watertown Police Department will begin with the Police Training and Evaluation Program (PTEP). The first portion of the PTEP process includes 3 weeks of classroom training. After that, you will be assigned to 3 different Police Training Officers for a 10-week period. During this time, you will learn about things like search and seizure, appropriate policies and procedures of the department, and arrest laws.

Problem Based Learning Exercises (PBLE) have also recently been incorporated into the PTEP program. PBLEs are simulated real-life situations that will teach you how to use your resources to resolve each individual situation. During the 14th week of the program, which is the last week, you will be evaluated by your PTO officer.

Step 8. Training for Certification

Next, you will start training to obtain certification. The Watertown Police Department allows you 1 year to obtain this certification, but it is typically done just after finishing the PTEP program. Training is done at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre. The entire certification process takes about 13 weeks and 520 clock hours of training.

Back to Top