How to become a Police Officer

Broward Police Officers

Today’s Broward County police officer candidates must be in excellent health; have near-perfect corrected or non-corrected vision; and have no physical disabilities that would hinder the performance of their duties. They must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and they must be a minimum of twenty-one years of age but not over the age of thirty-five. The County Sherriff’s Office will waive the upper age limit if the candidate is highly qualified or is already a police officer from another agency. A large number of police departments lean toward hiring college graduates, and some municipalities offer monetary incentives to officers who complete their college educations while employed with the police department.

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Candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation, which is normally conducted by investigators from the detective division or detectives within the internal affairs department. The investigators visit and question the candidate’s neighbors, friends, family members, pastors, and former employers and teachers. Conversations with people who are close to the potential officer can offer great insight into the candidate’s character and abilities.

Candidates with felony records can’t become police officers. Most departments won’t hire anyone with a criminal record of any kind, including misdemeanors. Investigators check Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local computer files for any documentation of criminal activity by the candidate. Detectives also obtain a copy of the candidate’s credit report, because a person with a poor credit history is thought to have organizational troubles and not be the type of person who’ll make a good police officer. The investigators print a copy of the candidate’s driver record. They examine this record for any signs of problematic or habitual behavior, such as excessive speeding and reckless driving.

The investigating officers place the documentation of the three reports—the criminal history, the credit report, and the driver record—into what is now a rapidly growing file. Some departments also require the candidate to undergo a polygraph examination, or lie-detector test.

At this stage of the hiring process, it’s not unusual for investigating detectives to discover that a candidate is wanted by the police in another jurisdiction, is a spouse or child abuser, is a drug addict, is delinquent in child support or taxes, or is a convicted felon. The foolhardy candidate with an outstanding arrest warrant is promptly taken into custody.

A candidate who successfully passes the background examination must undergo a battery of testing. He must pass a lengthy, written aptitude exam that requires knowledge of basic math, science, language skills, and excellent reasoning and memory skills. If the candidate successfully passes the aptitude test, he takes a psychological test to determine whether he’s mentally and morally suitable for the job. The psychological tests are designed to weed out candidates who exhibit even the slightest signs of socially deviant behavior. Test-takers are also required to respond to questions regarding lying, cheating, and stealing. The tests leave little room for error.