How Do I Become a Police Officer?
In the State of New Jersey, police departments are regulated by the rules under Title 40a (Non-Civil Service) or Title 11a (Civil Service). The Non-Civil Service and Civil Service hiring processes are different.
- Non-Civil Service Departments (Title 40)- You can apply to a department that is currently hiring. Throughout the state, departments have varying baseline requirements to become a police officer, which may include a specific level of education and age requirement. Some departments, but not all, will require a candidate to take a written/oral examination, interview(s), and physical conditioning test. Other mandatory requirements are below.
- Civil Service Departments (11a)- The candidate must register and take a civil service exam. After testing occurs, the civil service commission will release a civil service list from which departments will select potential candidates. For further details, please see the State of New Jersey Civil Service Commission website.
What are the requirements to become a police officer?
AGE: The New Jersey Police Training Commission requires an individual be at least 18 years of age and no more than 35 years of age (N.J.S.A 43:16A-3(1)). There are exceptions to the age requirement that are detailed in the New Jersey Enrollment Eligibility and Age Limits section.
CIVIL SERVICE DEPARTMENTS: For civil service (Title 11) departments, the age of the candidate is determined at the announced closing date for the civil service examination. Candidates must not be one day past their 35th birthday on the announced closing date of the civil service examination. Those candidates meeting the age requirements at that time will be considered as having met the maximum age requirement for the duration of the civil Service list (N.J.S.A 43:16A-3(1)).
NON-CIVIL SERVICE DEPARTMENTS (Title 40): employees must be appointed on or before their 35th birthday to qualify for enrollment.
AGE EXCEPTIONS: There are exceptions to the maximum age limit for police officers that are detailed below:
N.J.S.A. 43:15A-97 established the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) category as a special group of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). The LEO group is eligible for enhanced retirement benefits not available to regular PERS members.
Individuals who do not meet the age or medical requirements for entry into the Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS) as a result of employment in the titles listed below are eligible to participate in the LEO category or as a regular member of the PERS.
Any person employed in an eligible job title who meets the enrollment criteria will be enrolled in the LEO category of PERS membership, unless the member specifically signs a Law Enforcement Officer — Waiver Form within 90 days of receiving the LEO eligibility notification. A LEO-eligible individual who signs the waiver will be enrolled as a non-law enforcement officer in the regular PERS retirement system; however, all employees holding LEO-eligible titles are subject to the Compulsory Retirement provisions (see the “Compulsory Retirement" section).
PERS LEO Eligible Departments include but are not limited to; Division of Fish and Wildlife, Office of County Prosecutor, Office of County Sheriff and Palisades Park Commission.
CIVIL SERVICE DEPARTMENTS: candidates must pass an entry level Law Enforcement Examination (LEE).
NON-CIVIL SERVICE DEPARTMENTS: each department varies in their testing procedure. Please check with the individual department's entry level testing procedure.
BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION: All police departments conduct independent background investigations which may include, but are not limited to, criminal background, traffic violations, interviews (candidate, friends, neighbors, family, police, teachers, employers, partners, etc.), financial records, civil court systems, and social media.
DRUG TESTING: Prior to starting the police academy, all potential candidates must produce a negative drug test. If admitted into the academy, a police recruit will be subjected to random drug testing(s) at any time.
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION: Before entering the police academy, all candidates must successfully complete a psychological examination from a department-approved practitioner.
MEDICAL EXAMINATION: All candidates must to be examined and declared fit to participate in police academy activities.
PHYSICAL CONDITIONING ASSESSMENT: Prior to entering the police academy, all recruits must pass each required phase of the physical conditioning assessment:
General Physical Conditioning Testing Procedures
- Warm up for at least 3 minutes.
- Perform vertical jump, and then recover for 1-2 minutes.
- Perform the 1-minute sit-up, and then recover 5 minutes.
- Perform the 300-meter run, and then recover for 10 minutes.
- Perform the 1-minute push-up, and then recover 5 minutes.
- Perform the 1.5-mile run, and then recover for 5 minutes.
Physical Conditioning Passing Test Requirements (minimum requirements)
Vertical Jump: 15 inches
1 Minute Sit-Up: 28 repetitions
300-Meter run: 70.1 seconds or less
1 Minute Push-Up: 24 repetitions
1.5-mile run: 15:55 or less
NOTE: A recruit must pass all conditioning requirements. If a candidate fails one or more of the above requirements, they will be given the opportunity to be re-assessed. During the re-assessment, if a candidate fails one or more of the requirements, they will not be permitted to enter the police academy.
Can I pay my own way through the Police Academy?
The Alternate Route Training program allows qualified individuals to enter the academy without being hired by an agency. The New Jersey Police Training Commission granted approval to police academies in this state to conduct the Alternate Route Basic Course for Police Officers. This program permits eligible applicants to apply for admission to an approved academy to participate in the Basic Course for Police Officers.
To qualify for the Alternate Route program a candidate must:
- Be between 18 and less than 35 years of age and;
- Be a United States Citizen and;
- Be a New Jersey resident and;
- Have at least 60 college credits from a regionally- accredited school and/or 2 years of full-time active military service or a combination thereof.
The potential applicant is required to pass:
1. An entry level test approved by the Police Academy Director.
2. A background investigation.
3. An oral interview conducted by a panel of individuals including police chiefs, academy administrative staff, and members of the police academy advisory board.
4. A medical evaluation.
5. The physical conditioning test with a minimum score of;
- Vertical Jump: 15 inches
- 1 Minute Sit-Up: 28 repetitions
- 300-Meter run: 70.1 seconds or less
- 1 Minute Push-Up: 24 repetitions
- 1.5-mile run: 15:55 or less
NOTE: Candidates will be eliminated from the process if they are unable to meet the minimum scores as listed above. Each candidate will be provided an opportunity to be re-assessed if they fail the initial assessment.
6. A Psychological Evaluation.
7. Applicants must possess medical insurance.
NOTE: The Director of the Police Academy has the right to refuse admittance for any reason. The successful completion of all phases of testing does not guarantee a candidate a seat in the academy class. The Gloucester County Police Academy does not guarantee employment to any recruit (alternate route candidate) upon graduation.
Cost: The program will cost the alternate route candidates approximately $2,000, which includes tuition, medical evaluation, psychological evaluation, uniforms, equipment, and ammunition.
Hours: Generally, the police academy will start at 0600 hrs. and end at 1600 hrs.
Salary: An alternate route candidate will not receive any compensation while they are in the police academy.
After I graduate from the police academy as an alternate route recruit, what shall I expect?
After graduation, alternate route graduates will receive job announcements via email. Other employment searches will be the sole responsibility of the graduate.
Graduates have three years from their graduation date to secure a law enforcement position without having to complete another police academy course. A majority of the alternate route recruits are hired within the 3-year time period.
When can I apply for the alternate route program?
Applications for the alternate route program will be accepted starting July -mid September of each year. The police academy will accept the applications for placement in the following year academy class. For instance, the selection process for 2024 will begin July of 2023. You must have completed the required 60 credits preceding the commencement of the following year's academy class.
How do I become a Special Law Enforcement Officer (SLEO II or SLEO I)?
Special Law Enforcement Officers are appointed by a specific police department. The position opening will be posted by each department. A Special Law Enforcement Officer II (SLEO II) is permitted to carry a firearm and has the same law enforcement arrest powers as regular police officers. SLEO II officers have to be trained through an approved police academy and may be hired to work part-time or full-time hours. Other SLEO II's may be hired as seasonal employees and may work full-time hours.
Special Law Enforcement Officer I must be appointed by a police department and attend a state- approved police academy. At the Gloucester County Police Academy, a SLEO I will complete two weeks of training. SLEO I officers do not carry firearms but can be assigned a multitude of tasks such as, traffic control, community events, etc.