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How to Become a Police Officer in Tennessee

Becoming a Police Officer in Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) is a multidivisional, CALEA-accredited organization serving the 4th largest city in Tennessee and its more than 170,000 residents. The Uniformed Services Division alone supports jobs for nearly 350 sworn and civilian personnel.

Here, you will find detailed information about becoming a police officer in Chattanooga in just six steps:

  1. Meet Minimum Qualifications/Complete Application
  2. Written Examination/Physical Ability Test
  3. Preliminary Interview/Background Investigation
  4. Final Interview
  5. Academy Training
  6. Field Training Program

Step 1. Meet Minimum Qualifications/Complete Application

The Chattanooga Police Department defines the following minimum qualifications for police officer positions:

General Qualifications (All Levels)

  • Be 21 years of age but less than 40
  • High school diploma/GED (Of note, you will be given preference if you have completed 120 semester hours or more of college courses with a GPA of 2.0 or better.)
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Birth certificate/Tennessee state driver’s license
  • Copy of DD214 if you have military experience
  • No prior felony convictions or serious misdemeanors
  • Be a Tennessee resident

Police Officer I

  • POST certification
  • CPR certification

Police Officer II

  • Meet all requirements of Police Officer I
  • 3 years of law enforcement experience (sworn)
  • Training in 6 specialty areas (A minimum of 60 college credit hours can substitute for 1 specialty skill area.)
  • Previous training in supervision/leadership (may include MTAS Municipal Management Academy Level I)

Police Officer III

  • Meet all requirements of Police Officer II
  • 5 years of law enforcement experience (sworn)
  • Training in 2 specialty areas
  • Previous training in supervision/leadership (may include MTAS Municipal Management Academy Level II)

In order to submit your application to the Chattanooga Police Department, you may contact them via email or call 423-757-5200.

Step 2. Written Examination/Physical Ability Test

Once your application has been received and selected for further consideration, you will receive a letter within about 2 months directing you to schedule the written examination. The written examination is an entry-level aptitude test that includes 4 sections:

  • Reading/understanding
  • Observation accuracy
  • Written communication
  • Biographical inventory

There are a total of 169 questions on the examination, and you will need a grade of at least 70% in order to progress. If, however, you have a previous military history or a bachelor’s degree, the written examination can be waived.

The next stage of the selection process is the physical ability test. The CPD outlines that police officers must be able to exert 100 pounds of force or more on occasion and 50 pounds or more frequently. The physical ability test is designed to evaluate your ability to perform these tasks using a combination of fitness evaluation and a short obstacle course. Some of the areas evaluated during the physical ability test include climbing, running, kneeling, crawling, crouching, pushing/pulling, and repetitive motion.

Step 3. Preliminary Interview and Background Investigation

Now you are moving onto the next phase in the selection process, which is the preliminary interview and background investigation. The preliminary interview gives recruiters the opportunity to ask you questions and assess your candidacy while also giving you a chance to ask any questions you may have about the job or the selection process.

The background investigation will include a review of your preliminary interview, test scores from the written exam and physical ability test, scholastic record with verification, employment history, and criminal history. It will also include contacting and verifying your references, reviewing your credit history, a military record check if applicable, and then reviewing the polygraph results which you will be required to submit to during the preliminary interview process.

Step 4. Final Interview

Your job offer will be extended to you during the final interview, which is conducted with administrative staff as well as the Chief of Police. The job offer will be contingent upon completing the remaining tests required: the medical examination and the psychological evaluation. Again, these tests are used to ensure that you are physically fit and mentally stable for the job of police officer.

Step 5. Academy Training

Now that you have been hired as a police officer for the CPD, you are ready to begin the 26-week Chattanooga Police Academy. The academy provides thorough and extensive training essential to your success as a police officer, including:

  • Building search
  • Laws of arrest
  • Criminal law
  • Physical fitness
  • Writing reports
  • DUI enforcement
  • Search and seizure
  • Firearms
  • Unarmed self defense
  • Traffic accident investigation

Step 6. Field Training Program

Once you have graduated from the Chattanooga Police Academy, you will be assigned to the field training program. This is a 3-month program in which you will be under the supervision of a training officer, showing you the ropes and giving you an opportunity to execute your training academy experience in real-life situations. After the 3 months, you will be assigned to your own beat and ready to work solo.

Becoming a Police Officer in Clarksville, Tennessee

The City of Clarksville has been recognized as the 9th fastest growing city in the United States, and it is also the 5th largest city in Tennessee. If you want to serve this growing city by protecting its residents and upholding its statutes, review this guide that details what it takes to qualify for jobs with the Clarksville police department.

Here you will learn how to become a Clarksville police officer in just seven steps:

  • Meet Application Requirements
  • Submit an Application
  • Testing and Employment Process
  • Background Investigation
  • Interview
  • Conditional Letter of Employment
  • Academy and Field Training Programs

Step 1. Meet Application Requirements

In order to apply for a job as a police officer with the Clarksville Police Department, you will need to meet these application requirements:

  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma/GED
  • Legal United States citizen
  • Valid/current driver’s license
  • If you have a military history, you must have an honorable discharge
  • No prior felony convictions. The Peace Officer Standard and Training Commission of Tennessee may issue a waiver of this excluding a history of felony convictions or domestic violence charges

Step 2. Submit an Application

You will need to return your completed application to the Tennessee Career Center in Clarksville. The Clarksville Police Department requires that both your application and a release of information form be completed and notarized before you can submit your application.

If you have questions about the submitting your application, you can contact the Clarksville Police Department Recruiting Office at 931-553-5111.

Step 3. Testing and Employment Process

Once your application has been chosen for further consideration, you will proceed to the testing phase of the employment process. The Clarksville Police Department holds testing sessions for police officer candidates 3 times throughout the year (January, May, September). In order to take the test, you must bring the testing form provided by the Tennessee Career Center as well as photo identification.

The physical testing portion will include a 1-1/2-mile run and 300 meter run as well as timed sit-ups and pushups for 1 minute each. You must be able to test at the 40th percentile level or better in order to pass:

Male:

Physical Test
20-29 Years
40-49 Years
1-1/2-mile run
12 min/38 sec
13 min/50 sec
300 meter run
59 sec
72 sec
Sit-ups (1 min)
38
29
Pushups (1 min)
29
18

Female:

Physical Test
20-29 Years
40-49 Years
1-1/2-mile run
14 min/50 sec
16 min/31 sec
300 meter run
71 sec
94 sec
Sit-ups (1 min)
32
20
Pushups (1 min)
15
9

Next, you will move onto the written examination. This is a standardized test which you will take at the Tennessee Career Center in Clarksville. It includes a personality assessment and will also evaluate your math skills, reading comprehension, and writing ability. You must achieve at least 70% on this test before you can proceed to the next step in the selection process.

Step 4. Background Investigation

Next, you must submit to an extensive background investigation. This step is one of the lengthiest steps in the entire process because of its comprehensive nature. The background investigation typically includes a review of your criminal history, prior employment history, education, military record if applicable, and a thorough check of your personal references.

Step 5. Interview

The next step in the employment process is an interview with the Police Chief and the Command Staff. During the interview, they will review your testing thus far and make a more firm assessment of your suitability as a police officer.

Step 6. Conditional Letter of Employment

Once you have been selected by the Police Chief and Command Staff, you will receive a conditional letter of employment. The job offer will be contingent upon successfully passing a polygraph, drug screen, physical examination, and psychological evaluation.

Step 7. Academy and Field Training Programs

Now that you have been selected to be a police officer with the Clarksville Police Department, you will go through 3 phases of training. The 1st phase is a 4-week training done in-house which helps you become more accustomed to the department. This training will include instruction on:

  • Firearms
  • Chemical weapons
  • DUI enforcement
  • Policy and procedure
  • Impact weapons

The 2nd phase is Basic Police School and is done at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Donelson, Tennessee. This is a 10-week training program which ends with graduation from the academy and certification from the state.

The 3rd phase is known as the field training program. This is a 14-week program in which you will be assigned to a field training officer. Once you complete this training, you will be given a shift and assigned to solo patrol.

Becoming a Police Officer in Knoxville, Tennessee

The Knoxville Police Department (KPD) is staffed with roughly 400 sworn and 120 civilian personnel and provides protection to some 185,000 residents of Knoxville, Tennessee. In fact, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies has recognized both the KPD and its Training Academy as “flagship” agencies, making the KPD one of the most recognized and prestigious police departments in East Tennessee.

Here, you will learn about Knoxville police jobs and how you can start your law enforcement career in only six steps:

  1. Meet Initial Requirements/Submit Application
  2. Complete Civil Service Written Test and Physical Performance Test
  3. Interview/Orientation
  4. Background Investigation/ Other Evaluations
  5. Recruit Academy
  6. Field Training Officer Program

Step 1. Meet Initial Requirements/Submit Application

In order to become a police officer with the Knoxville Police Department, you will need to ensure that you meet these initial requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old to apply
  • Have a valid/current driver’s license
  • Not have any prior felony convictions
  • Be a legal United States citizen

You will need to complete your application and return it to the Civil Service Department. You can also contact a recruiter from the Knoxville Police Department at 865-215-7313 if you have questions regarding your application.

Once your application is complete and has been submitted, you can create an online account through the Knoxville Police Department’s online portal to check the status of your application at any time. Click here to create your Career Center account.

Step 2. Complete Civil Service Written Test and Physical Performance Test

Once you have met the initial requirements, you will be scheduled for the Civil Service written test. This test is comprehensive in that it covers a variety of sections that will evaluate your overall aptitude and capability as a police officer. It is important to mention that the Civil Service Department does not release test results over the phone but rather sends them by mail.

The next step in the hiring process is the physical performance test (PPT). The City of Knoxville and Civil Service Merit Board require that you sign a Release of Liability form prior to participating in the PPT, acknowledging your understanding of personal liability. The test consists of 2 portions: arm endurance and arm lift. The Knoxville Police Department considers evaluation of upper body strength highly indicative of your ability to successfully complete the Knoxville Police Academy.

  • Arm Endurance – This portion of the test will require you to pedal an ergometer with your arms for 60 seconds at a fixed workload of 50 watts.
  • Arm Lift – This portion of the test utilizes a floor plate linked with a chain to a dynamometer and a 24-inch metal bar. Standing upright on the plate and your elbows at 90 degrees, you will pull upward on the bar exerting maximal, steady force.

The physical performance test is a pass/fail test, and you will be notified of your results via mail.

Step 3. Interview/Orientation

The interview portion of the selection procedure gives recruiters an opportunity to meet with you face-to-face and assess your suitability for the job. In addition, it will also give you an opportunity to ask any questions you have about working as a police officer for the Knoxville Police Department.

Step 4. Background Investigation and Other Evaluations

Next, you will be required to submit to a background investigation. This typically includes a review of criminal history, employment history, education, and a reference check. At this point, you will also be required to complete both a psychological and medical evaluation to evaluate your both mental capacity and physical capability for performing the tasks required of a police officer. Later on during this process, you will also meet with a review panel to go discuss these evaluations.

Step 5. Recruit Academy

This is the Basic Recruit Training, a 24-week long period, which is located in Knoxville. This is not a residential facility, so you will have leave to return home after training each day. During this time, you will receive extensive instruction and training in all areas of law enforcement. Some of the things covered in the training:

  • Law – City, State, and Constitutional
  • Criminal investigation/accident investigation
  • Writing reports
  • Defense tactics and firearms
  • Police driving

The basic training period ends with graduation and police officer certification.

Step 6. Field Training Officer Program

Once you have completed basic training, you will move onto the Field Training Officer (FTO) program, which is a 16-week program. During this time, you will receive intense on-the-job training utilizing what you learned during the recruit training. This program is designed to help you acclimate and prepare yourself for performing the duties of a police officer solo.

Becoming a Police Officer in Memphis, Tennessee

The Memphis Police Department is a multifaceted agency that supports jobs for more than 2,500 sworn personnel and 441 civilian personnel. In 2010 alone, the Uniform Patrol Division of this massive law enforcement agency responded to more than 950,000 calls.

Here you will find information on how to become a police officer in Memphis in just nine steps:

  1. Meet the Minimum Requirements and Submit Your Application
  2. Complete the 1-1/2-mile Run
  3. Structured Oral Process
  4. Written Examination
  5. Physical Simulation Test
  6. Background Investigation/CPS Interview
  7. Conditional Approval
  8. Psychological and Medical Approval
  9. Final Approval

Step 1. Meet the Minimum Requirements and Submit Your Application

The Memphis Police Department recently reinstated college credit requirements for police recruits. In order to be considered for available jobs with the Memphis Police Department, you must meet the following police officer requirements:

  • Completion of a minimum of 54 semester hours of college credit through an accredited school
    • Or 2 years’ continuous military service with honorable discharge
    • Or 3 years’ employment as an officer (POST certified) working in a police department with at least 20 officers
  • Be at least 21 years old by the time you would complete the Police Basic Training Program
  • You must not have any prior felony convictions nor any violations of laws at the federal, state, or city level
  • A valid driver’s license at the time of application but obtain a Tennessee driver’s license upon hire
  • You will have 6 months to obtain residency within Shelby County if hired
  • No history of drug and/or alcohol addiction

In order to submit your online application to the Memphis Police Department, the following information is required:

  • Original driver’s license, social security card, and certified birth certificate
  • Address list since 18 years of age
  • Name of high school and date of graduation
  • Name of colleges attended, dates of graduation, and degrees completed
  • List of certifications, permits, and/or professional licenses
  • Complete driving history (12 months) and detailed information of vehicles owned
  • Complete criminal history
  • References
  • Complete employment history beginning at 18 years of age

Submit your application here.

Step 2. Complete the 1-1/2-mile Run

You will be required to complete the 1-1/2-mile run in 15 minutes before being allowed to move on to the next component of the selection process.

Step 3. Structured Oral Process

Recruiters will ask you a series of questions designed to evaluate your decision making skills. These questions will be based on scenarios representative of police work and typical situations encountered by police officers. Your answers to these questions will determine whether or not you move on to the next step in the candidacy process.

Step 4. Written Examination

You will be required to complete both the ABLE (Adult Basic Learning Examination) and WRAP (Work Readiness Adaption Profile) tests. These tests are designed to evaluate your skills and abilities as they relate to law enforcement performance. Although the ABLE test is not a timed test, it includes 3 levels which typically average 2 hours and 40 minutes of completion time each.

Step 5. Physical Simulation Test

The physical simulation test will simulate real-life police encounters and evaluate your physical ability to respond. Armed with a bulletproof vest, your gun belt, and training weapon, you will be required to do 2 laps around the basketball court of the Memphis Police Department. During that time, you will encounter 4 simulated activities. You must complete the physical simulation test in 2 minutes and 40 seconds. If after 2 attempts you are not able to complete the test within the allotted time, you will be allowed a 3rd attempt, but you will be assessed a 15-second penalty.

Step 6. Background Investigation/CPS Interview

This portion of the selection process involves a complete background check. This will include your complete employment/education history, criminal history, military history if applicable, and a thorough check of your references. The interview portion is taped and will later be evaluated by both a penal of members from the Memphis Police Department and Human Resources.

Step 7. Conditional Approval

After you have successfully completed the first 6 steps, employment with the Memphis Police Department will be approved contingent with passing the remainder of the required examinations.

Step 8. Psychological and Medical Approval

In this portion of the selection process, you will be evaluated by a psychologist in order to assess your mental capacity and ability to perform the job of a police officer under the complex and often stressful circumstances that police officers encounter. The medical evaluation will consist of a complete physical examination in order to assess your overall health and physical ability to perform the job of a police officer.

Step 9. Final Approval and Academy Training

Congratulations! After all of your hard work and successfully completing the rigorous selection process, you are now ready to begin your police officer training at the Memphis Police Department Training Academy.

Becoming a Police Officer in Nashville, Tennessee

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) supports jobs for more than 1,300 sworn personnel and responds to an estimated 750,000 calls per year. Since the inception of the Training Division and Academy in 1970, the MNPD has graduated more than 2,200 police officers and provided numerous hours of continuous in-house training to its law enforcement staff.

Here you will learn how to become a police officer in Nashville in just 6 steps:

  1. Meet Employment Standards and Submit an Application
  2. Complete an Orientation Visit
  3. Complete the Civil Service/Physical Ability Examinations
  4. Background Investigation and Interview
  5. Conditional Offer of Employment
  6. Accept the Position

Step 1. Meet Employment Standards and Submit an Application

Before being considered as a potential candidate, you will need to meet the police officer requirements set forth by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department:

  • Complete at least 2 years, equivalent to 60 semester hours, of general studies at an accredited college/university and maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or better
    • Or have completed at least 2 years’ active military duty without dishonorable discharge
    • Or have a high school diploma/GED in addition to 2 years of previous uniformed law enforcement experience.  Tennessee POST certification required
    • Or have a high school diploma/GED and at least 5 years of full-time, verifiable work history
  • Must be 21 years of age to apply
  • Meet the Distant Visual Acuity requirements: normal depth perception, 20/100 uncorrected, 20/20 corrected and at least 20/30 in the other eye, normal color perception, binocular vision capacity of at least 20 feet
  • Must be a United States Citizen
  • Must hold a valid Class D license
  • Have no felony convictions or violations of city, state, or federal laws
  • Clear driving record
  • Any drug use history will be used to determine candidacy eligibility

You can create an account through MNPD’s web portal and submit your application here.

It generally takes between 10 and 12 weeks from the time you submit your application until you receive confirmation of eligibility to continue on in the selection process. This process is coordinated by the Human Resources Department.

Step 2. Complete an Orientation Visit

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department offers a 1-hour orientation to help you prepare for your career as a police officer. Topics discussed during this session will include preparing for Training Academy, preparing for both the Civil Service and Physical Ability tests, information about the hiring/selection process, and the role of the Field Training Officer program in your future success as a law enforcement professional.

Step 3. Complete the Civil Service/Physical Ability Examinations

You will receive notification from Human Resources approximately 4 weeks before your testing date for these examinations. The Physical Ability test is a pass/fail test. In order to pass the test, you will be required to successfully complete the following tasks:

  • Untimed push-ups: Minimum of 21
  • Sit-ups in 60 seconds: 15 or more
  • 1-1/2-mile run: 17 minutes and 17 seconds or less
  • 300 meter run: 77 seconds or less

You will be notified of your test results in about 2 weeks. If you have satisfied the criteria of these 2 examinations, you will proceed to the next stage in the selection process.

Step 4. Background Investigation and Interview

The background investigation portion is thorough and time consuming. For that reason, this phase of the hiring process typically takes between 3 and 4 months to complete. Once your background investigation checks out, you will be scheduled for an interview with a background investigator. This meeting will allow for clarifications in your background history before a conditional offer of employment can be made.

Step 5. Conditional Offer of Employment

After satisfactorily completing the background/interview phase, you will receive a conditional offer of employment. This offer is conditional in that you will still have a series of evaluations to undergo including a drug screen, medical exam, and psychological assessment. You will also be required to complete the Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) which is similar to a polygraph. This portion of the selection process usually takes between 4 and 6 months.

Step 6. Accept the Position

Congratulations! You have successfully made it through the thorough selection process and are now a police officer in Nashville.

You can now look forward to engaging in Nashville PD’s formal law enforcement preparatory training through the Nashville Training Division and Academy.

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