There are varying components that go into officer-recruitment and the selection-process. This paper will outline many general concerns for consideration into a law enforcement branch and then focus more on a specific agency and policy once all normal or formal recruitment procedures are addressed. Most law enforcement agencies generally start with a application process that weeds out applicants that do not fit into the general criteria or job experience, and education requirements.
The minimum eligibility requirements depend on the level or category of agency you are applying to and what standards need to be met to qualify you for the position. Some of these minimum qualifications are United States citizenship, vision assessment, drivers license, and being somewhere in between the minimum and maximum age at the time you are admitted to the academy. Other parts of this process depend on if you are looking at employment at a local or federal policing agency. Most Local agencies carry an education requirement of a high school degree or at the very least a General Education Diploma (GED).
On the other hand federal agencies can ask for a increased education requirement of a bachelors degree in a related field that they desire or a higher masters degree in a discipline that the agency requires. Minimum eligibility requirements imply exactly that; the smallest amount of qualifications you are expected to meet prior to application for employment. Meeting this minimum eligibility does not entitle you to the position or guarantee you to be any closer to employment to the position than any other person may be all this means is that you meet the basic criteria for the possibility of employment at the given agency.
Once you meet the minimum requirements for eligibility then you are one step closer to the goal of employment in a law enforcement agency but that’s when the real part of the selection process actually begins. Selection processes do not include everything but are merely a broad spectrum of knowledge and understanding that officers need to adhere to, to further move them along from just an application to the rest of the hiring process. Applicants must pass a written examination, pass a physical abilities exercise, complete a background investigation, and a psychological and other medical examination to qualify.
Federal enforcement bureaus also have several step oral interview processes and most likely a polygraph test is required after the background investigation is completed. During a background investigation you are most likely asked detailed questions that are meant to disqualify you later in the process if you were to provide a false response. These truth questions are made to thin the applicant pool and will exclude you from further opportunities even if you do well on any other portion of your examinations.
The beginning of the process after the application is submitted is generally a written aptitude test that has to be completed. Assuming the recruited officer passes these standardized tests, the next hurdle is physical agility and endurance testing. Depending again on the size of the agency for which you have tested, it might take quite a while for you to get your test results. The reasons may vary, but whatever they are, you can expect to eventually receive a notification with your test score. If you are informed that you did not pass, you may receive information on how to appeal your result.
In the interest of brevity, this discussion assumes that you passed the test and have been placed on what is generally called the eligibility list. These test examine are comparable to how a police officer may fair during daily tasks. Examples of what you physical activity that you will be asked to exhibit are equivalent to a military Physical Readiness Test (PRT), these are activities such as a minimum time you are able to finish a mile and a half run, sit-ups, push-ups, and basically a confidence course test with obstacles that you may have to maneuver to catch a perp.
If recruited officers are in top physical condition and have a body mass equivalent to their height this should not be a issue but because of society being more sedentary this has actual become a major issue in the recruitment process. Completing the physical requirements step brings you to an evaluation of your background and history. Aspects of your life that can be checked are medical, military, school records, employment history, credit history, past criminal record and your driving record.
Usually the background investigation coincides with taking a polygraph in most organizations that I have dealt with personally. The polygraph is used as an after action to determine the validity and truthfulness of your statements during the application process. This is meant to determine your strength of character and usually if you fail a poly then you will not be considered for employment. After all of these examinations policing agencies have to take further precautions with employment than most civilian organizations, agencies ask for a psychological and medical evaluation.
The medical exams are needed to determine your immediate and long term health and whether or not there needs to be any concerns about how you will perform during any challenges that may arise in field. Agencies are mostly concerned on if you have any withstanding ailments or injuries that could shorten your law enforcement career. Also a major factor during your medical examination is if you have 20/20 vision or normal vision without any color blindness that could hinder your ability to complete normal job functions.
The psychological examination normally had two separate parts, the first being a written questionnaire and the second being a meeting with a actual psychologist or psychiatrist who interviews determine you mental health and what you are susceptible. Lastly in the recruitment process is the personal interview which can already have been done through knowledge of some of your other interviews and assessments that were taken to this point. Mostly this portion is just to assess your communication skill set and your responses to predetermined set of questions.
Interviewing agencies may be in a board format or a single interviewer but this is meant to assess your answers to difficult but pertinent questions concerning law enforcement actions and situations and create a stress on the interviewee. Interviewers compare recruits on how they handle the stressful situation and according to their line of questioning and if it remained correct throughout the interview. The specific agency that interests me is Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), all of this criteria provided fits into the same selection process that they have implemented.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service a federal agency tasked with protecting military members and their families and any other civilian personnel that has ties to the navy. NCIS protects naval equipment, technology, and the communications networks of the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps. NCIS personnel number over 1,200 Special Agents, 900 other civilian professionals, and 200-plus military service members all over the world to prevent terrorism, protect our national intelligence, and decrease criminal activity across the United States and over 40 countries around the globe.
There are only minute differences such as the training opportunities that make a NCIS Special Agent candidates much more specialized in handling all possible situations that may arise as a federal law enforcement officer both at home in country (CONUS) or abroad (OCONUS). These agents must complete several training programs to include the Criminal Investigators Training Program (CITP) and the NCIS-specific Special Agent Basic Training Program (SABTP) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Glynco, GA.
Later opportunities may include specialized training in Polygraph and Credibility Assessment (PCA) techniques, procurement fraud, forensic science, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, leadership and languages. (NCIS) Working with the military and dealing with classified information and investigations another need that happens during their back ground investigation is to get adjudicated to a top secret security clearance.
These officer-recruitment and selection-process are pain taking and rigorous but meant to weed out the undesirable or inexperienced applicants that just don’t quite fit the criteria needed to be a successful officer of the law. The requirements that are set forth make each agencies personnel that much wiser in a given situation and give them the satisfaction that they are one of the few to make it through such an extenuating selection process.