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How to Become a Police Officer in Virginia

Becoming a Police Officer in Arlington, Virginia

Arlington police officers are dedicated to the service and protection of their local community. As an officer, you will be employed by an agency steeped in tradition, but that is also not afraid to embrace new ideas. In keeping with the fraternal tradition of the department, the Arlington PD is cheering on three of its officers who will take time off from work to complete a 250-mile Law Enforcement United bike ride in honor of their colleagues who have died in the line of duty.

Arlington police jobs offer many opportunities for you to contribute to society, and this guide will walk you through the three-to-six-month application process as you work to become a police officer in Arlington:

  1. Basic requirements
  2. Application
  3. Tests
  4. Background investigation
  5. Panel interview
  6. Polygraph test
  7. Medical examination and psychological evaluation
  8. Basic training

Step 1. Meeting Police Officer Requirements in Arlington

The first step to becoming a police officer in Arlington is to make sure you meet the entry-level basic requirements:

  • Either previous college education, military experience, or law enforcement experience:
    • 60 semester or 90 quarter hours of higher education
    • One year full-time certified law enforcement experience
    • At least two years of active military service with an honorable discharge
  • Mostly clean driving and criminal record:
    • No recent reckless driving, DUI, or several moving violation convictions
    • No felony, domestic violence, theft, or assault convictions
  • At least 20.5 years old at the time of your application
  • Good physical condition
  • U.S. citizen
  • Driver’s license
  • You must agree to not use any tobacco products while on or off-duty

Step 2. Application

If you meet these basic qualifications then your next step will be to fill out an online application. Make sure to complete this in full and attach all requested documents. The Arlington PD will review your application and if it is complete and there are no immediate reasons for disqualification, you will receive an appointment for testing.

At this point you should print and complete the personal history statement. This 22-page questionnaire will be used later in the application process, but you need to submit this fully completed before you will be allowed to begin your testing.

Step 3. Tests

Becoming a police officer in Arlington requires you to complete two tests that are graded on a pass/fail basis. Your first test will be a basic written exam that evaluates you on your basic abilities in:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Report comprehension
  • Spelling, punctuation, and grammar
  • Mathematics

Your second evaluation will be a physical agility test. This is an obstacle course designed to simulate experiences you will come across in your daily work, and you must have a completion time of less than 70 seconds. This course will be conducted wearing a 20-pound vest, and includes:

  • Remembering an imaginary suspect’s description, 3 out of 4 details
  • Wall jump
  • 150-pound dummy drag for 15 yards
  • Sprinting
  • Glock rack slide (cock) and dry-fire, 13 times in 26 seconds

Step 4. Background Investigation

It may take Arlington police investigators a few weeks to complete your background investigation. Your records relating to your credit and finances, employment, education, criminal, and traffic history will all be scrutinized and your background investigator may conduct interviews with any number of people who know or have known you, including:

  • Friends and family
  • Teachers and employers
  • Classmates and colleagues
  • Neighbors
  • Character references

While you are waiting for your background check to finish you can sign up to go on ride-alongs with Arlington police officers. This is a required activity you can complete at this convenient time.

Step 5. Panel Interview

The Arlington PD will choose your panel interviewers from a cross-section of officers based on your answers provided in the personal history statement and the findings of the background investigation. You will risk being eliminated from the application process if you do not answer all questions fully and truthfully.

Step 6. Polygraph Test

The next phase in the process of becoming a cop in Arlington will be for you to take a polygraph test. You will have been given a polygraph questionnaire previously and your test will cover your responses on this and may ask altogether new questions.

Step 7. Medical Examination and Psychological Evaluation

Your medical examination will be conducted as a pass/fail test, and will include:

  • Through medical physical
  • Vision test (must have normal or correctable vision) including for depth perception and color
  • Hearing screening
  • Chest X-ray
  • Drug and alcohol test

Your psychological evaluation will make sure you do not have any malevolent psychological problems or disorders, and will additionally include a stress test that measures your ability to cope under pressure.

Step 8. Basic Training

The Arlington PD uses the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy to instruct its officers in the basic skills and knowledge you will need for a successful start to your career. The academy is 20 weeks long and five days a week from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. You will have an additional 14 weeks of specialized field training. Areas of instruction are:

  • Criminal investigation
  • Patrol techniques
  • Legal issues
  • CPR and first aid
  • Driving maneuvers
  • Firearms training
  • Defensive tactics

To graduate from this academy you will need to meet proficiency standards in three ways, which you will be prepared for throughout the academy:

  • Cumulative score of 70% in all modules
  • Pass state-mandated regulations
  • Performance-based tests completion

Becoming a Police Officer in Chesapeake, Virginia

Police officers in Chesapeake strive to promote a safe city through the enforcement of laws and crime prevention initiatives in partnership with the community. This is reflected in the department’s four core values: professionalism, respect, community service, and integrity.

If this sounds appealing to you, then consider applying for available Chesapeake police jobs. This guide will walk you through the steps required to apply and ultimately become a police officer in Chesapeake, Virginia:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Application
  3. Personal history statement
  4. Physical agility test
  5. Background investigation
  6. Interviews
  7. Polygraph examination
  8. Medical examination
  9. Training academy

Step 1. Meeting Police Officer Requirements in Chesapeake

Your first step in becoming a police officer in Chesapeake will be to check if you meet the job’s minimum requirements:

  • No felony or any other convictions involving domestic violence, deceit, or dishonesty
  • U.S. citizen
  • Driver’s license
  • At least 21 upon academy graduation
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No recent disorderly driving convictions:
    • Suspensions or revocations
    • DUI convictions
    • Reckless driving
    • 20 miles an hour or more over the speed limit
    • Three or more moving violations
  • No recent illegal drug use
  • If you have served in the military you must have received an honorable discharge
  • Good physical condition

Step 2. Application

Your next step will be to complete an online application for the position of “Police Officer Trainee.” Make sure to attach all required documents, sign the necessary forms, and fill out the application completely. Failure to do any of these will result in either a delayed response or the dismissal of your application.

When your application has been received and is judged to be complete, the Chesapeake PD will email you with your appointment time to take your physical ability test.

Step 3. Personal History Statement

Your next step will be to download and print the Chesapeake PD’s personal history statement. You will need to turn in this completed, notarized, and signed statement at your physical agility test appointment before you are allowed to begin. This must be completed in its 20-page entirety or you will not be permitted to continue with the application process. The Chesapeake PD will use the personal history statement later when completing your background investigation.

Step 4. Physical Agility Test

Your ticket to begin your physical agility test will be your completed personal history statement. The test is in an obstacle course design, aimed at simulating the typical activities required of Chesapeake cop jobs. There is no time limit for the test, which includes:

  • Remembering an imaginary suspect’s description
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Crawling
  • Climbing
  • Dry-firing an unloaded gun
  • Dragging a 150-pound dummy five yards

Step 5. Background Investigation

Your background investigation is extensive and takes several months to complete. You will need to meet with your background investigator at least once to discuss your responses on the personal history statement. Your background investigation will be an examination of official records as well as personal interviews. Some example questions from the personal history statement are:

  • Have you ever used illegal drugs
  • Have you ever been disciplined at work
  • Have you ever been fired or forced to resign
  • Have any of your debts ever been turned over to collections
  • Have you ever been late on or falsified your tax payments

Step 6. Interviews

If your background investigation confirms you are of good moral character and there are no disqualifying findings then you will proceed with a panel interview. This will be conducted by Chesapeake PD officials who will ask you clarifying questions about subjects raised during your background investigation and you will have a chance to explain and ask questions of your own.

Depending on the panel’s recommendations, you may be allowed to proceed to a final interview with the chief of police. Now is your chance to make any final statements or ask any final questions. If the chief thinks you will do an excellent job and your application supports this then you will be made a conditional offer of employment, dependent on your successful completion of a drug and alcohol test, polygraph examination, and medical examination.

Step 7. Polygraph Examination

Your polygraph examination may revisit subjects previously investigated in your background check and personal history statement, or it may delve into new areas your examiner deems relevant to the job duties of a Chesapeake police officer.

Step 8. Medical Examination

Your medical exam will be conducted by a licensed physician or physician’s assistant and include a thorough medical physical, vision and hearing screening, and a drug and alcohol test.

Step 9. Training Academy

The Chesapeake PD’s training academy is a six-month program designed to teach you everything you will need to know to begin a successful career as a police officer. Hands-on training and classroom learning is carried out in a professional, discipline-oriented atmosphere. Specialized training will be offered in:

  • Defensive tactics
  • Firearms
  • Lifetime physical fitness
  • Emergency vehicle operations
  • Law and order
  • Criminal justice system
  • Juvenile law
  • Family issues and domestic violence

Becoming a Police Officer in Norfolk, Virginia

The Norfolk police department has a saying, “48 jobs- one uniform.” There is no such thing as a typical day as a police officer, and it is hard to complain about a lack of choices for career directions with 48 paths to choose from.

If you are ideologically motivated and have a desire to serve and protect, Norfolk police jobs may be right for you. This guide will take you through the application process and show you how to become a police officer in Norfolk:

  1. Basic requirements
  2. Application
  3. Written examination
  4. Physical ability test
  5. Polygraph examination
  6. Background investigation
  7. Oral review board
  8. Police chief review
  9. Psychological evaluation and medical examination
  10. Police academy

Step 1. Basic Requirements

Meeting police officer requirements in Norfolk is the first basic requirement. You must satisfy the following basic criteria:

  • At least 20.5 years old when application is submitted
  • High school diploma or GED
  • U.S. citizen
  • If a military veteran, you must have had an honorable discharge
  • Ability to obtain a Virginia driver’s license
  • No felony convictions
  • Be able to pass a drug test
  • Upon hire must agree to refrain from any use of tobacco products, on or off-duty

Step 2. Application

When you confirm you meet the basic requirements for becoming a police officer in Norfolk your next step will be to fill out an online application in full. Make sure to also include the following scanned copies:

  • Driver’s license
  • DMV report not older than one year
  • Signed authorization of release form
  • Birth certificate
  • High school diploma or GED
  • If you have prior military service, a DD-214 long form

Step 3. Written Examination

Shortly after your application is submitted you will receive an appointment for a written examination. This is a 100-question multiple choice test on which you must provide at least 70 correct answers. The Norfolk police department offers a study guide for this test, which examines your basic skills and is divided as follows:

  • 80 questions on reading comprehension
  • 10 questions on spelling
  • 10 questions on grammar

Step 4. Physical Ability Test

Upon completion of your written exam you will need to complete a physical test that is divided into two phases:

  • Physical agility obstacle course: This is designed to simulate situations you will encounter in your job as a Norfolk police officer. You must complete the course – graded pass/fail – wearing soft body armor in less than 104 seconds. Included are events such as:
    • Dead-weight drag
    • Jumping and crouching
    • Sprinting
    • Climbing and descending
    • Balancing
  • 1.5 mile run: You must score 70 points in this event, which is accomplished by completing the course in 14 minutes and 55 seconds (14:55). An additional point is added to your score for each 10-second time decrease. For example, a time of 14:45 will earn 71 points.

Step 5. Polygraph Examination

This test will verify the information you provided in the personal history section of the initial application. If any deception or interference is detected surrounding disqualifying subject areas your application may be suspended. It is best if you tell the full truth without any omissions.

Step 6. Background Investigation

All your minimum qualifications will be verified and a background investigator will additionally check into:

  • Illegal drug use
  • Past employment
  • Criminal records
  • Personal references
  • Driving history
  • Credit report

Step 7. Oral Review Board

At this point a panel of Norfolk hiring officials will review your application and test results thus far. You will be questioned on specific details that have come up during the application process and you will be required to sufficiently explain away any causes for concern. The review board will be considering several candidates so it will be important for you to distinguish yourself.

Step 8. Police Chief Review

A final decision on your future employment will be made by the police chief. If you are successful you will be extended a conditional offer of employment dependent upon your passing a psychological interview, medical screening, and drug test.

Step 9. Psychological Evaluation and Medical Examination

The final step before you will be eligible to begin the training academy is to successfully complete a psychological evaluation and medical examination. The psychological evaluation is conducted to determine if you are capable of handling high levels of stress and to ensure you are mentally balanced.

The medical examination includes a thorough physical exam, vision and hearing screening, and drug test. You must pass each portion of this medical exam as well as your psychological screening to continue along the hiring process.

Step 10. Police Academy

Your final step to becoming a police officer in Norfolk will be the completion of the 6 month police academy. You will complete 40 hours of training each week and commute from your residence each day to the Norfolk Police Academy. You will receive training and classroom instruction in:

  • Basic law
  • Report writing
  • Criminal investigation
  • Physical conditioning
  • Driving maneuvers
  • Defensive tactics
  • Firearms

Becoming a Police Officer in Richmond, Virginia

As a Richmond, Virginia police officer you will have a variety of opportunities to hone and use your natural strengths to support the department and serve the city of Richmond. With the Richmond PD you will have a great opportunity for professional advancement and growth.

This guide will provide you with a step-by-step explanation of how to become a cop in Richmond:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Application
  3. Physical agility test
  4. Written test
  5. Panel interview
  6. Background check
  7. Ride-along
  8. Psychological evaluation
  9. Medical examination
  10. Final selection
  11. Training academy

Step 1. Minimum Requirements

Before you fill out an application, your first step is to confirm you are capable of meeting police officer requirements in Richmond:

  • No DUI convictions in the last five years
  • Driver’s license
  • No domestic violence or felony convictions
  • U.S. citizen
  • Must be at least 21 years old upon completion of training academy
  • High school diploma or GED

Step 2. Application

You must wait until there is a vacancy for Richmond police jobs before you can fill out an application, however you can elect to be notified by email when the city posts such an opening. When you do fill out an application, make sure to do so completely and legibly, attaching all required documents. If your application is accepted you will need to complete a background pre-screening form and background questionnaire.

Step 3. Physical Agility Test

Once your application has passed an initial screening by the personnel and recruitment unit, you will receive an appointment for your physical agility test, to take place at the Richmond Police Training Academy. This test requires you to complete the following in less than 6.33 minutes:

  • Remember a random street address for several minutes or face a 200 yard penalty run
  • 400-yard sprint
  • 40-stair simulated climb and descent
  • 30 push-ups
  • 30 sit-ups

Step 4. Written Test

After successful completion of the physical agility test you will be required to complete a written test. The Richmond police department offers a study guide for this evaluation, which is a timed assessment of your basic abilities in:

  • Mathematics
  • Report writing
  • Reading comprehension
  • Grammar

You will be notified of your test results before you leave the testing location, and you must pass to continue with the application process.

Step 5. Panel Interview

Your next step is to attend a panel interview. This is conducted by Richmond police department officials and will evaluate you on your abilities to perform the basic job duties of a Richmond cop. If you seem like a good fit for the department you will be made a conditional offer of employment.

Step 6. Background Check

The Richmond PD conducts an extensive three-tiered background investigation of all the prospective candidates who have received a conditional offer of employment. The process takes about three months to complete and begins with an initial investigation.

  • Initial Background Interview: You will have previously turned in background information forms that your assigned background investigator will now consult when formulating questions for your initial interview. This will attempt to pinpoint specific areas of concern for the detective assigned to your case to investigate, and will include an interview with every former employer you have had.
  • Polygraph Examination: The Richmond PD views your polygraph examination as an investigative tool that can assist in determining the accuracy of the information you have provided. Your polygraph examination is not the sole determinant of your background investigation results, but it will be one of the factors.
  • Applicant Background Investigation: This background investigation will include a records check for which you will need to submit fingerprints. The detective investigating your case will check your:
    • Credit report
    • Driving record
    • Criminal history
    • Education record
    • Military history
    • References

Step 7. Ride-Along

You are encouraged to complete a ride-along with a selected police officer during your application process. This will give you a feeling of what Richmond cops face each day. The officer who you ride along with will also provide an evaluation of his or her opinion about how well-suited you are for the job to the personnel and recruitment unit.

Step 8. Psychological Evaluation

Your psychological evaluation will be conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist and include an oral and written evaluation. The written portion is a personal inventory segment and will be followed by an oral interview. This will be an evaluation of your written inventory as well as a clinical appraisal.

Step 9. Medical Examination

A physician will conduct a thorough medical examination and provide his or her opinion as to your health and capability for Richmond police jobs. This will include:

  • Review of your medical history
  • Drug and alcohol test
  • Medical physical

Step 10. Final Selection

The final candidate selection will be made in a review by the police chief, human resources division chief, and the appointing authority. They will conduct an assessment of your entire application packet and determine if you will proceed to the training academy.

Step 11. Training Academy

The Richmond police department’s training academy is a facility situated on the campus of Virginia Union University. Your basic training program will last approximately 30 weeks. Upon graduation you will begin your new career as a Richmond police officer and patrol with a field training officer for at least eight weeks. Training academy instruction covers areas of:

  • Firearms training
  • Physical fitness
  • Legal issues
  • Juvenile law
  • Patrol strategies
  • Domestic violence
  • Report writing

Becoming a Police Officer in Virginia Beach, Virginia

The Virginia Beach police department is Virginia’s largest municipal law enforcement agency, offering its police officers the experience of working as everything from SWAT team members and helicopter pilots, to mounted patrolmen and school resource officers.

Becoming a police officer in Virginia Beach involves completing the following steps:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Application
  3. Written exam
  4. Physical ability test
  5. Background investigation and polygraph examination
  6. Oral Interview
  7. Psychological and medical examination
  8. Training academy

Step 1. Minimum Requirements

Your first order of business will be to confirm that you meet the basic police officer requirements in Virginia Beach:

  • At least 21 years old by the time of academy completion
  • High school diploma or GED
    • Most successful candidates have some college education, military, or prior law enforcement experience
  • U.S. citizen
  • Must obtain a Virginia or North Carolina driver’s license soon after being hired
  • Must sign an agreement that you will not use any tobacco products on or off duty
  • No significant criminal history

Step 2. Application

The next step in the process of how to become a cop in Virginia Beach is to fill out the city’s application online. If you need assistance with this you can go to the human resources office during normal business hours. Applications may only be filled out when there is a position vacancy. The most common reasons an application is initially rejected are that it is either incomplete or the deadline for the position has passed.

Once you have completed the online application you will be directed to the police department’s website where you can print a Personal History Questionnaire that you must submit with all required documents. This will be used later in the application process.

Step 3. Written Exam

Upon submission of your personal history questionnaire you will be scheduled for the next available date to take the CWA Next Generation written exam. A study guide is provided for this test, which is a multiple choice test that evaluates your:

  • Practical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Emotional outlook
  • Basic education skills

Step 4. Physical Ability Test

Before being able to complete this test you will need to have submitted a signed medical waiver. This test is administered in four events which will be graded on a two-tier system of minimum requirement completion and an overall cumulative score. The minimum scores and events are:

  • 300-meter run: Completed in 112 seconds
  • Push-ups: 11 in one minute
  • Trunk pull: 72 pound of pressure pulled while sitting
  • Sit and reach/trunk flexion: 5.33 inches

Step 5. Background Investigation and Polygraph Examination

Becoming a police officer in Virginia Beach will require you to have a background investigation. The department will review your:

  • Personal history questionnaire
  • City application
  • Driving record
  • Credit report
  • Criminal record

You will have a background investigator who will conduct interviews with your personal references, previous employers, neighbors, family members, classmates, or anyone else who has known or observed you over a period of time.

Your polygraph examination will focus on any issues previously raised during the application process and may pinpoint specific instances in your background including:

  • Previous delinquent behavior
  • Previous criminal acts, even if they have not been discovered
  • Previous deviant behavior or ideas
  • Illegal drug use
  • Instances of theft or deceit

Your physical ability test, written examination results, background investigation, and polygraph examination results will be evaluated by a pre-screening board who will determine whether or not you are qualified to proceed to an oral interview.

Step 6. Oral Interview

An oral review board will conduct this portion of the application process and may ask you any questions related to your past, future plans, or beliefs. Upon successful completion of the oral interview you will be given an offer of conditional employment, dependent on your completion of the final two following steps. After the oral interview your eligibility to possess a firearm and the entry of your fingerprints into the national database will be confirmed.

Step 7. Psychological and Medical Examination

Virginia Beach police jobs also require a psychological and medical examination. The psychological exam will make sure you do not have any disqualifying mental issues. The medical examination will consist of a medical physical, drug test, and a hearing and vision screening. If you do not pass both of these examinations you will be ineligible to continue in the hiring process and may reapply in six months, starting at the beginning of the application process.

Step 8. Training Academy

The Virginia Beach police department conducts a relatively long police academy because it views a long-term investment in its officer’s training as an effective means of quality control. Prior to beginning the 26-week basic police academy the Virginia Beach PD will assign you an officer mentor who will give you tips on how to successfully complete the half-year program. Upon graduation you will be sworn in as a police officer and be assigned to work with a police training officer for at least your first 15 weeks. The training academy covers areas such as:

  • Report writing
  • Criminal justice system
  • Domestic violence
  • Firearms and non-lethal force
  • CPR and first aid
  • Interrogation techniques

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