How to Become a Police Officer in Washington

Becoming a Police Officer in Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue was recently named the safest place to live in the Pacific Northwest, and it is no coincidence that the Bellevue police department has a long tradition of pride and excellence. As a police officer in Bellevue, you will work alongside 178 other commissioned officers that strive to maintain safety and security in this beautiful community.

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In the Bellevue Police Department, jobs are varied for experienced officers with two or three years of service under their belts. Many become detectives, school resource officers, and crime analysis officers, among other roles.

Use this guide as a resource when learning how to become a police officer in Bellevue:

  1. Basic requirements
  2. Testing
  3. Oral board interview
  4. Background investigation
  5. Polygraph examination
  6. Health checks
  7. Training academy

Step 1. Basic Requirements

Meeting police officer requirements in Bellevue is the first step. The minimum qualifications for the job are:

  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED
  • At least one of the following:
    • 60 semester or 90 quarter hours of higher education experience
    • Three years previous experience as a full-time police officer
    • Four years active military duty with an honorable discharge
    • 180 days of continuous activation by presidential order if you are in the military reserve
  • Have normal or correctable vision
  • Mostly clean driving, criminal, and illegal drug use record
  • No excessive debt
  • Automatic disqualification if you have willfully failed to pay income tax or child support

Step 2. Testing

The next step in becoming a police officer in Bellevue is the completion of three tests. The police department contracts this portion of the testing out to the National Testing Network. You can register online for these tests, which are:

  • Written Test: This is a basic test of your writing abilities, reading comprehension, and mathematic reasoning that should not take more than a few hours to complete.
    • 300-meter sprint in at least 71 seconds
    • 21 push-ups
    • 30 sit-ups in one minute
    • 1.5-mile run in 14 minutes and 31 seconds
  • Video Scenario Test: This test will give you a variety of recorded scenarios that you will watch and then provide a response for what you would do in such a situation.

The Bellevue police department’s hiring division will select the top-ranking candidates to continue with the application process at a scheduled oral board interview.

Step 3. Oral Board Interview

Next you will have your first interview with Bellevue police department officials. A panel will ask you questions about your qualifications that would make you an excellent Bellevue cop and you should make a point at demonstrating good communication and social skills.

Based on your oral board interview performance score you will be placed on a ranked civil service list. If you are one of the top candidates you will be chosen to continue with a background investigation.

Step 4. Background Investigation

You will need to provide a written background questionnaire for your pre-employment background investigation. This will cover information regarding any previous illegal or immoral activity you have ever been involved in. An investigator will also confirm you meet the minimum requirements for a job with the Bellevue police department, and this includes a check of your:

  • Education records
  • Criminal records
  • Military history, if applicable
  • Financial records and credit report
  • Driving history

If your background investigation confirms you have an upstanding moral character and no disqualifying findings have been made then you may receive a conditional offer of employment at this time, dependent on the successful completion of steps five and six.

Step 5. Polygraph Examination

Your polygraph examination will be administered by a professional who will question you on issues raised in your panel interview and background investigation. Your examiner may also ask you questions related to criminal activity previously undisclosed. The polygraph test is also a test of honesty and reliability in itself, and often times providing a false answer is worse than telling the full truth about the same subject.

Step 6. Health Checks

Your final duties before being cleared to begin the training academy are the health checks:

  • Medical Examination: A doctor will give you a detailed physical, hearing and vision screening, and drug test. You must pass all of these to continue with the application process.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A licensed psychologist will determine your ability to handle stress in the workplace, as well as assess your overall mental health and stability.

Step 7. Training Academy

As required by Washington State, you will have the opportunity to attend an 18-week new recruit police officer training academy. This will include another round of the same physical agility testing, but you will also receive instruction in all the key subjects necessary to turn you into a qualified Bellevue police officer. Areas of training include:

  • Firearms training
  • Interrogation strategies
  • Self-defense and lifetime fitness
  • Juvenile issues
  • Domestic violence and family matters
  • Criminal justice system
  • Defensive driving and driving maneuvers
  • Report writing
  • Patrol strategies

Becoming a Police Officer in Seattle, Washington

The Seattle police department strives to offer the city’s residents the best law enforcement service possible, and offers a wide variety of positions to its police officers. With everything from a forensics team and harbor patrol, to DUI squad and school resource officers, you will have plenty of opportunities to find your niche within the Seattle Police Department.

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This guide will provide a step-by-step explanation of how to become a cop in Seattle if you’re interested in joining their distinguished ranks:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Application
  3. Tests
  4. Panel interview
  5. Background investigation
  6. Additional tests
  7. Final interview
  8. Training

Step 1. Minimum Requirements

First you should confirm you are capable of meeting police officer requirements in Seattle. These minimum qualifications are:

  • At least 20.5 years old when taking the exam to be hired
  • If military service you must have an honorable discharge
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Washington state driver’s license upon hire
  • U.S. citizen
  • Have a mostly clean drug record:
    • No marijuana use in the past year
    • No other illegal drug use or abuse of prescription drugs in the past 5-10 years
    • Have never manufactured or cultivated illegal drugs with the intent to sell
  • Have a mostly clean traffic record, to be assessed on a case by case basis
    • No DUIs
    • No suspensions within the past five years
    • Not have three or more moving violations in the past five years
    • No more than two “at-fault” accidents in the past five years
  • No felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Mostly clean financial history
    • No excessive debts
    • No failures to pay your income tax or child support

Step 2. Application

When you have checked that you meet the minimum requirements your next step will be to fill out an application with Seattle’s personnel office. You must wait until there is a vacancy with the Seattle police department, though you can fill out an online job notification card to receive an email when the position becomes open.

Once you submit your application you will need to register online for a civil service test and physical agility test.

Step 3. Tests

First comes the civil service examination, which is a written and video test. It evaluates:

  • Grammar and spelling
  • General knowledge
  • Reading comprehension
  • Common sense and multitasking
  • Memorization

You will begin the examination with a 1.5-hour study session to prepare for the memorization portion. Then you will have another 1.5 hours to complete the 125-question exam with a score of at least 80%.

Next you will need to complete a physical ability test. This consists of the following four events:

  • 300-meter run: to be completed in 71 seconds or less
  • Push-ups: must complete at least 21 with no time limit
  • Sit-ups: complete at least 30 in one minute
  • 1.5-mile run: to be completed in at least 14 minutes and 31 seconds

Note that these are the minimum passing requirements. If you exceed these you will also receive a higher score. Once you have successfully completed these tests, you will be scheduled for a panel interview and you must also turn in a completed personal history information packet, a copy of your driver’s license, social security card, DD 214 if prior military service, and notarized release of information and credit history release forms.

Step 4. Panel Interview

Your first interview will consist of a panel of two police officers and one Seattle community member. You will primarily be answering scenario-based questions.

Step 5. Background Investigation

Your application will be assigned to a detective who will conduct a thorough background investigation. Over the course of several weeks your detective will confirm the information you have provided in your application process. He or she will also conduct a thorough records check and complete a series of interviews with people who know or have observed you. This includes:

  • Criminal records check
  • Credit report check
  • Driving abstract and traffic violation history
  • Education, employment, and military history, if applicable
  • Interviews with:
    • Friends and family
    • Coworkers, classmates, teachers, supervisors
    • Neighbors

Step 6. Additional Tests

The police department will review your application at this point and decide whether or not to make you a conditional offer of employment. If you are chosen, becoming a police officer in Seattle will now require you to undergo the following additional examinations:

  • Polygraph Examination: This will be administered by a professional and may ask you details about instances raised in your background investigation
  • Psychological Evaluation: A licensed psychiatrist will assess your personality and if you have any traits or disorders that could interfere with a job as a Seattle cop. You will also be evaluated for stress tolerance
  • Medical Examination: You will receive a thorough medical physical examination, eyesight and hearing test, and a drug test. This doctor’s visit is to ensure you will have no physical or medical problems completing the job duties of a Seattle police officer

Step 7. Final Interview

After the successful and competitive completion of all steps up to this point, your entire application and test results will be reviewed. You will have a final interview with an assistant chief or representative and a decision will be made about your future with the Seattle police department. If you are selected you will receive written notification of a final job offer, the start date of your police academy, and a date and time for an employment orientation.

Step 8. Training

Your training will be completed in a process of three steps, beginning with the police academy. This is a 4.5-month full-time basic law enforcement academy to which you will commute, usually Monday through Friday. You will receive training and instruction in:

  • Firearms and non-lethal force
  • Report writing
  • Legal procedures
  • Investigation techniques
  • Interrogation methods

Next you will spend one month at the Seattle PD’s Advanced Training Unit. You will learn specific Seattle city laws and services, as well as department procedures and policies.

After completing this segment you will move on to a field training program where you will be placed with an experienced patrol officer who will evaluate you based on your performance. If you earn good marks here you will be assigned to the patrol division to begin your career as a police officer in Seattle, being on probation for your first year.

Becoming a Police Officer in Spokane, Washington

As a Spokane police officer you will be responsible for maintaining law and order in the heart of the inland empire. You will work in an environment that includes desert scrub, rivers, vineyards, and urban streets. As a Spokane police officer you’ll work in support of the city’s motto, “near nature, near perfect.”

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If you are interested in finding out how to become a cop in Spokane you can use this guide as a planning tool to help you prepare and stay organized. The application process follows these steps:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Application
  3. Tests
  4. Personal history form
  5. Polygraph examination
  6. Board interview
  7. Background investigation
  8. Health testing
  9. Chief’s review
  10. Training academy

Step 1. Meeting Police Officer Requirements in Spokane

Before you fill out an application, your first step should be to check that you meet the minimum qualifications for becoming a police officer in Spokane:

  • U.S. Citizen
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Higher education
    • Either 30 semester or 45 quarter credit hours
    • Minimum C grade point average or 2.0
    • Includes at least 3 semester or 5 quarter hours of college English
  • At least 21 years old by the time of appointment
  • Height-weight proportional
  • No felony or domestic violence convictions

Step 2. Application

You can either apply online, print an application, or request one to be mailed to you. Make sure to fill out the application legibly and in its entirety. Once you have submitted a complete application and it is screened to see that you meet the minimum requirements, you will be scheduled to take a civil service exam and physical agility test.

Step 3. Tests

The next step in becoming a police officer in Spokane will be for you to complete a civil service test. This is an evaluation of your basic abilities in the following areas:

  • Vocabulary
  • Memory
  • Application of specific instruction
  • Mathematics
  • Reading comprehension
  • Situational and driving judgment

Upon successful completion you will be scheduled for the physical agility test. This is comprised of four scored events. You must earn a minimum of 30 points to pass each event and have a cumulative score at the end of 160 points. The maximum score for each event is 50 points. The events are listed with their minimum and maximum qualifying standards:

  • 300-meter sprint: 71-56 seconds
  • Untimed push-ups: 21-35
  • Sit-ups: 30-38 in one minute
  • 1.5-mile run (minutes:seconds): 14:31-13:35

Step 4. Personal History Form

When you pass your testing you will be required to fill out a personal history form. You will have to provide information about:

  • Credit history
  • Criminal history
  • Traffic record
  • Past employers
  • Personal references

Step 5. Polygraph Examination

If there are no red flags raised from your personal history form you will proceed with a polygraph examination. Your examiner will question you about any previous instances of illegal or immoral behavior including your professional and personal life.

Step 6. Board Interview

At this point in the process of becoming a police officer in Spokane you will have the chance to speak with a board interview panel. You will be asked how you would respond in certain scenarios and should demonstrate superb communication and interpersonal relationship skills.

Step 7. Background Investigation

This point in the process may take weeks to complete. A detective from the Spokane PD will confirm everything you have attested to in your application, personal history statement, and polygraph examination. This will mean going through records and conducting interviews with people who have known you personally or who may have observed you over a period of time, such as neighbors, classmates, or colleagues. Your detective will have to confirm you are of good, moral character and would make a great addition to the Spokane police department.

Once your background investigation is complete and you are found to be in the best competitive condition you will be made a conditional offer of employment.

Step 8. Heath Testing

The Spokane PD requires you to undergo a series of physical and mental health checks to make sure you are in an optimum condition to perform the job duties of a Spokane cop. You will need to complete:

  • A medical examination conducted by a doctor who will test your vision and hearing, perform a detailed medical physical, and give you a drug and alcohol test.
  • A psychological evaluation where you will be assessed based on your ability to work in stressful situations and your overall state of mental health.

Step 9. Chief of Police Review

Before you begin the training academy the police chief will make a final review over your application packet and evaluations up to this point. The chief will have some final questions for you and you will also have the opportunity to ask any final questions of your own.

Step 10. Training Academy

You will complete your final training at the Spokane police academy in an 18-week program. The training academy generally runs five days a week for eight hours a day with the weekends off. You will learn the essential skills you will need to make you an exceptional cop. Areas covered include:

  • Report writing
  • Legal procedures
  • Criminal justice system
  • Interrogation techniques
  • Driving maneuvers
  • Field sobriety testing
  • Self-defense
  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons training

Becoming a Police Officer in Tacoma, Washington

A job with the Tacoma Police Department will place you in one of the most diverse cities in Washington State. The police department is currently actively recruiting police officers who can speak Vietnamese, Cambodian, Russian, Korean, or Spanish.

If you are looking to serve and protect in this cosmopolitan city, then review this step-by-step guide describing how to become a police officer in Tacoma:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Apply
  3. Tests
  4. Personal history
  5. Oral board interview
  6. Background investigation
  7. Examinations
  8. Training

Step 1. Minimum Requirements

Meeting police officer requirements in Tacoma will be the first hurdle you must traverse. To have a chance at becoming a police officer in Tacoma you must meet the following standards:

  • U.S. citizen
  • High school graduate or GED
  • Driver’s license
  • You may be disqualified for:
    • Criminal history
    • Illegal drug use
    • Bad driving record
    • Poor credit history

Step 2. Apply

You can only apply for Tacoma police jobs when there is a vacancy in the department. This means you must monitor the Tacoma PD’s website, facebook page, and other local sources to see when a position opens up. You may also fill out a job interest card to be notified when this happens by the city of Tacoma. When you do apply make sure your application packet is filled out neatly and completely. Your application and accompanying papers will be assessed and if everything is in order you will be notified of your testing appointment.

Step 3. Tests

Written Test – You will need to take two tests whose results will rank you alongside other candidates. The first is a written test. This will evaluate your basic knowledge in writing, reading comprehension, and mathematics.

Physical Ability Test – This may be scheduled directly after your written test or it may be scheduled for the following day. A passing score for this test is 160 and the maximum score is 200. You must get at least 30 points in each category. The four events of the test are listed below, along with the results which correspond to the 30-50 point spread:

  • 300-meter run, 71 to 56 seconds
  • Push-ups, no time limit to complete 21 to 35
  • Sit-ups, in one minute complete between 30-38
  • 1.5-mile run, to be completed in at least 14:31 with a high score of 13:35 or less

Step 4. Personal History

After achieving passing scores on your tests you will need to complete a personal history questionnaire and meet with a police official for a personal history interview. Your interviewer will discuss your answers on the questionnaire with you and determine if you have any factors in your background that make you ineligible for a career as a Tacoma police officer.

Step 5. Oral Board Interview

A community member will join a captain, lieutenant, sergeant, and commissioned officer to conduct your oral board interview. You will be asked about your personal history, employment record, future goals, and motivations for wanting to become a cop in Tacoma.

Step 6. Background Investigation

After completing a successful oral board interview you will begin the process of your background investigation. You will meet with a detective to go over your personal history statement and additional background questions. The detective will consider this interview, along with your driving record, credit report, criminal records, and employment history when making a recommendation to the hiring unit. Your background detective may also conduct interviews with anyone who has known or observed you for a significant portion of time.

This process usually takes between two and four weeks. Upon completion the hiring board will consider everything up to this point about your application and make a decision on whether or not to extend to make you a conditional offer of employment.

Step 7. Examinations

Once you have accepted the conditional offer of employment you will need to complete three examinations before the chief of police gives you the final okay for hire:

  • Polygraph Examination: This will be given by a professional administrator who will question you about previous illegal and immoral activities as well as any nefarious motivations you might have about becoming a police officer in Tacoma.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A licensed psychologist will conduct an interview with you to determine your mental stability and tolerance for stress.
  • Medical Examination: This will be performed by a doctor who will check your hearing, eyesight, give you a thorough physical examination, and finally a drug and alcohol test.

Step 8. Training

When you have successfully navigated the Tacoma police department’s hiring process you will begin your training with an initial month of pre-academy training. This is followed by academy training which lasts five months. Then you will receive two months of post-academy training, and finally conclude your recruit training with a patrol training officer lasting four months. Training will focus on the areas of:

  • Criminal justice system
  • Report writing
  • Legal issues and procedures
  • Juvenile law
  • Family law and domestic violence
  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons
  • Interrogation techniques
  • Driving maneuvers

Becoming a Police Officer in Vancouver, Washington

The Vancouver, Washington Police Department offers a variety of positions in which you can use your talents as part of an extremely effective law enforcement team. After you gain experience as a patrol officer you will be able to pursue a specialized position with the SWAT Team, narcotics unit, gangs unit, or the child abuse task force.

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This guide will take you through the steps you’ll take in determining how to become a cop in Vancouver:

  1. Minimum requirements
  2. Testing
  3. Video test and oral interview
  4. Background investigation
  5. Health evaluations
  6. Training

Step 1. Minimum Requirements

First you must confirm that you are capable of meeting police officer requirements in Vancouver. These are:

  • Driver’s license
  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Have a relatively clean background
  • Good moral character
  • Height-weight proportional

Step 2. Register for Testing

When you are certain that you can satisfy the minimum requirements, you will need to take two pre-interview tests. The first is a written examination that tests your basic skills in reading comprehension, math, and writing. This is administered by a privately contracted company for which you can sign up online. You will receive a time and date for your exam, the cost will be $45.00, and the Vancouver PD will be notified of your results.

Upon passing the written exam you will then be scheduled for the physical ability test with the police department. Becoming a police officer in Vancouver means passing this test, whose standards are set by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. You will need to complete four events with a minimum of 30 points each. However the overall passing score for the test is 160, with a maximum of 50 points in each category, or 200 points overall. The events are listed below with the minimum and maximum standards.

  • 300-meter run: 71-56 seconds
  • Push-ups (untimed): 21-35
  • Sit ups: 30-38 in one minute
  • 1.5-mile run: 14:31-13:35

Step 3. Video Test and Oral Interview

If you have passed the pre-interview tests then you will get the chance to sit down with a panel of police department officials for an oral panel interview, but first you must take a video assessment test. For this you will be shown a variety of video scenarios and you must write down what you would do in such a situation. The video scenario test and your panel interview will be scored.

Your panel interviewers will talk with you about your responses to the video scenarios and ask you additional questions. Both the video test and panel interview will determine your skills in:

  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Flexibility
  • Persuasiveness

Step 4. Background Investigation

One of the longest parts of the application process for becoming a cop in Vancouver is the background investigation. First you will need to complete a personal history questionnaire that includes information on:

  • Past residences
  • Past employment
  • Credit report and financial institutions where you have accounts
  • Criminal history record
  • Driving record
  • Education record
  • Military history, if any

After a Vancouver PD detective reviews your personal history questionnaire he or she will ask you specific questions regarding the information you have provided. The detective assigned to your application will also conduct interviews with anyone who has known you in the past.

As part of your background investigation you will also be required to complete a polygraph examination and a behavioral traits assessment test. A hiring panel will review your test results and background information, and if you are one of the strongest candidates you will be made a conditional offer of employment.

Step 5. Health Evaluations

This is the final step for you to complete before you are cleared to begin the training academy. You will have two health evaluations that are scheduled by the Vancouver PD:

  • Medical Examination: This will be administered by a physician or physician’s assistant and include a thorough physical, hearing and vision screening, and a drug test.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A licensed psychiatrist will determine if you are mentally fit for a job as a Vancouver police officer and evaluate your ability to work in stressful situations.

Step 6. Training

Your last step before you are eligible to become a fully-certified Vancouver police officer is the completion of your training. This includes an 18-week state-certified training academy and 14 weeks of field training with three different officers at the Vancouver PD. Topics covered throughout your training are:

  • Self-defense and defensive techniques
  • Driving maneuvers
  • Weapons and non-lethal force training
  • CPR and first aid
  • Family issues and domestic violence
  • Patrol strategies
  • Criminal justice system
  • Legal procedures
  • Crime scene/accident investigation
  • Interrogation techniques

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