Many people are interested in careers in law enforcement, jobs which involve a wide variety of responsibilities, as well as having a tremendous impact on the communities in which they serve. The qualities that are needed to be hired in any municipality and/or state range greatly, although there are certain characteristics that are common to all hiring processes. These include certain physical requirements, age, requirements for educational completion, and a restriction against having a criminal record. When examining the three websites regarding being hired for the Seattle, Minneapolis, and Orlando police departments, what is striking about them is that there is such a wide range of material contained regarding the hiring process, with some extremely vague descriptions as opposed to other material, such as the Seattle Police Department, that provides an extreme amount of detail about the hiring process. As a result, it is challenging to compare the three departments’ hiring processes. In Minneapolis, any applicant that applies to become a police officer must have and maintain a valid driver’ s license in the state; in addition, the person must be a citizen of the United States and is prohibited from having any felony convictions. Any person applying to become a police officer must have vision that is no worse than 20/100 without correction in the poorer eye and which must be correctable to 20/40 in both eyes (Recruit Police Officer, 2014.) In addition, the person must be able to observe the differences in the colors of red, yellow, and green. There are also certain standards for hearing; the applicant must have standard hearing ability with an average threshold with no correction, or perform no poorer than a 40 dB hearing loss on average at 500, 1000 and 3000 Hertz frequencies in the ear that is better.
Minneapolis also has stringent requirements for the psychological and medical health of any police applicant, must be considered to be mentally and physically stable as well as being able to successfully pass screenings for drug and alcohol use before being hired. The fitness standards for law enforcement applicants in Minneapolis must reach the standards of physical fitness that have been established by the Minneapolis Police Department (Recruit Police Officer, 2014.) In addition, after being hired, law enforcement officers are expected to maintain their standards of physical fitness according to these standards established by the Police Department as a condition of continued employment. Finally, any applicants must be able to pass a detailed background check that includes employment history, record of honesty, and records regarding driving and any convictions. Applicants are expected to have a sound knowledge base regarding laws, ordinances, and procedures for police officers in regards to situations that they encounter when they are on duty; they must be capable of exercising discretion as well as good judgment in urgent situations, and must also demonstrate the capacity to relate to and work successfully with a wide range of people, including those from different cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds (Recruit Police Officer, 2014.)
In Seattle, there is extensive and detailed information on the city’s website about the hiring process, which includes much more data about what applicants should expect. For example, a pre-employment process is described, in which certain minimum hiring standards for all officers must be met. In the Minneapolis description of the hiring process, there is no mention of such a process, although it may also be part of the process but was simply omitted from the website description. The next step in the Seattle hiring process is taking the civil service exam, which contains written material that centers on memorization, general knowledge, grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension (Hiring Process, 2015.) In addition, there is a video section for the exam containing multiple choice scenarios regarding officers who respond to a variety of situations where intervention is either required or not. There is a minimum required score that an applicant must attain in order to be accepted as a legitimate applicant for a police officer for the Seattle department. The Minneapolis police recruitment website, while extremely detailed, makes no mention of a civil service exam at all. Therefore, it is unclear how exactly the skills required to become a police officer are evaluated. In Seattle, the information about the requirements is extensive but contains much less detail about many of the areas. For example, it is clear that there must be successful completion of the physical ability test, which is followed by an oral board exam, but there is little detail about exactly what is involved in passing either of those evaluation methods. Like Minneapolis, the Seattle Police Department conducts background investigations; both the Minneapolis and Seattle Police Departments require that the background checks are completed successfully before being offered employment, although in Seattle this is offered on a conditional basis. In addition, in Seattle after this conditional offer is received, a physical ability test is required in order to enter the police academy . Once that is completed, a final offer of employment is extended. Again, the details of what is required for the physical ability test are not specified on the website.
The hiring process for the city of Orlando is explained in much more direct, brief language on its website. Like the city of Seattle, there is a pre-application process that, while not specified, determines whether or not an applicant is chosen, then pays the $30 application fee and proceeds to the next step. This is the only website that mentions any cost of applying to become an officer. If the applicant is able to move onto the next step, he or she must complete the application to become a police officer that appears on the job page for the City. Once the application is received, it is reviewed and taken into account regarding its competitiveness when measured against all other applicants. This is also the only website that addresses the issue of ranking of candidates, with the most desirable people clearly being the ones that will be invited to continue with the hiring process (Police Hiring Process, 2015.)
Those applicants who are selected to continue the process are scheduled to sit for a civil service exam, such as that that is described in the Seattle hiring process material. If the applicant passes that exam, the next step is to take a physical agility test the following day; again, the material on this website is extremely detailed about the process, such as containing the information that following passing the exam, it is the very next day that the physical agility test is taken. If a person passes the physical agility test, the application is reviewed in order to make a decision regarding whether the candidate is a competitive one. Those who are evaluated and viewed as competitive proceed to the next step, an interview by a panel. This is also the only city that mentions an interview by a panel. In addition, Orlando specifically mentions that applicants will have to take a polygraph test once they have achieved this level of success in applying for the job, and that measure will be followed by an intensive background investigation. All three departments conduct a background investigation.
The city of Orlando makes it clear that those officers who are chosen to proceed with the hiring process are then interviewed by the Chief of Police accompanied by his staff; this is the only website that specifically mentions that step as part of the hiring process. Another part of the hiring process in Orlando that is unique in these three websites is that when an officer receives a conditional offer of employment, he or she must take a second polygraph test as well as completing the medical and psychological exams (Police Hiring Process, 2015.) Orlando alone asks the officer to complete the medical and psychological evaluations at the very end of the hiring process.
All three of these departments more or less require similar standards in order to evaluate applicants for higher. There are some differences, however, such as that the Minneapolis Police Department does not list taking a civil service exam as part of that process; in addition, it is unclear whether any of the two departments aside from Orlando require a fee to apply for the positions. Finally, it appears that Orlando alone completes the application process by having a medical and psychological exam for the candidates, while the other two cities appear to conduct that assessment earlier in the process. Of course, all of this information is based on what is contained on the three websites belonging to those departments, and possibly the inclusion or exclusion of information may change the nature of the comparisons. For example, it is possible that in Minneapolis, it is a mandatory part of the process to include a civil service exam but it is simply not included in the website.
- Hiring Process. (2015). Retrieved from Seattle.gov: http://www.seattle.gov/policejobs/hiring-process
- Police Hiring Process. (2015). Retrieved from City of Orlando.net: http://www.cityoforlando.net/police/hiring-process/
- Recruit Police Officer (2014, December 18). Retrieved from Minneapolismn.gov: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/recruiting/police_recruiting_recruit