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Los Angeles Police Department Officer Requirements

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The origin of the first SWAT team in the US as well as the first department to hire a woman police officer with arrest powers, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) today employs 10,000 sworn officers to serve and protect the nearly four million citizens who live within the 473 square mile City of Los Angeles.1 The police officers in the LAPD have diverse backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of Los Angeles. The department is also one of the most prominent in the US, due to the fame of the city that it represents as well as its status as the third-largest police force in the nation and its highly public efforts to overcome common issues in urban policing.

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Steps to Becoming an LAPD Officer

  • Meet the minimum qualifications for prospective officers (see below).

  • Complete the Personal Qualifications Essay, a screening exam that also tests communication abilities, at an approved testing site.

  • Complete a background investigation and polygraph exam.

  • Pass a physical abilities test.

  • Attend a personal interview with an LAPD panel.

  • Complete a medical and psychological evaluation.

  • Accept appointment as a recruit and attend The Los Angeles Police Academy.

  • Begin working as an officer with the LAPD.

How to Become a Los Angeles, California Police Officer

The LAPD has a multi-step process to become a police officer. Once candidates have met residency and education requirements and submitted the application, which is step one, they move on to step two, the Personal Qualification Essay. This essay is administered at a testing site and is designed to determine an individual’s personal qualifications to become an officer. The remaining steps that potential officers will need to pass include a physical abilities test, a background investigation, a polygraph test, a department interview, a medical exam, and a psychological evaluation. Once selected, recruits report to The Los Angeles Police Academy for training.

Los Angeles Police Officer Job Description

Due to its size – both in population and by land area – as well as its unique history, the City of Los Angeles has diverse policing needs, which are meet by the various departments housed within the LAPD. Patrol officers tend to interact with the public the most; these officers may patrol in cars, motorcycles, by bike, on foot, or even on horseback, enforcing laws, responding to service calls, and forming ties with the communities they patrol. After two to three years of patrol duty, officers become eligible to apply for special assignment, which opens up many exciting opportunities in advanced law enforcement. For example, the LAPD has the largest, and perhaps most-recognizable, airborne patrol unit in the US. The LAPD also maintains units dedicated to specialty areas as art theft, counterterrorism and special operations, gangs and narcotics, and forensic science, among numerous others.

Los Angeles Police Officer Training, Prerequisites, and Educational Requirements

Individuals wishing to become LAPD officers must first meet eligibility requirements. Candidates must be at least 21 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, and be a US citizen or permanent resident alien who has applied for citizenship. One does not have to be a resident of Los Angeles to become an LAPD officer. Upon meeting eligibility requirements, individuals can apply for a position with the LAPD by completing the online application, with includes preliminary background screening questions as well as a job preview questionnaire to assess the candidate’s readiness for police work. Accepted candidates then complete the selection process with additional aptitude, medical, and psychological exams. Those who successfully pass all stages of the process will complete officer training at The Los Angeles Police Academy.

The six-month LAPD officer training program is academically and physically challenging. Courses cover such areas as driving, weapons training, public relations, and law. Recruits also learn Spanish, self-defense, and report writing, and are exposed to the basics of many of the LAPD’s advanced law enforcement areas such as air support and the bomb squad. Academy graduates are considered probationary officers and are assigned to patrol under the supervision of a Training Officer for a one-year period.

Los Angeles Police Officer Salary and Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2015, the average salary for Los Angeles police officers was $96,810.2 The base salary for LAPD recruits with a high school diploma is $59,717.3 Pay begins the first day of police academy training. After completion of the academy, officers receive a salary increase to $62,974; after completing a probationary period, officers are promoted to the rank of Police Officer II, with a base salary of $67,505.3 Officers promoted to the rank of Police Officer II who hold an associate’s degree receive a higher base salary of $70,136.3 Officers may receive further salary increases based on longevity, special assignment, or promotion in rank. All officers are eligible for health and life insurance benefits, paid time off, and the city’s pension plan.

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Explore program formats, transfer requirements, financial aid packages, and more by contacting the schools below.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thelapd
Twitter: @LAPDHQ

Los Angeles Police Department
100 West 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the LAPD hiring?

    Although training academies are only started a few times per year, the LAPD hires qualified recruits on a rolling basis. Several programs are available to help applicants prepare for the required tests; to learn more, visit JoinLAPD.com.

  • What is the average Los Angeles police salary?

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for Los Angeles police officers was $96,810 as of 2015.2 Starting salaries for new recruits are lower, but consistent step increases and opportunities for overtime as well as promotion lead to higher salaries for career officers.

  • How can I qualify to work with the Los Angeles Air Support Division?

    To qualify to work with the LAPD Air Support Division (ASD), officers must have either five years of patrol experience with the LAPD or three years of LAPD patrol experience plus an FAA private pilot’s license. Selected candidates receive six months of rigorous helicopter training to prepare for ASD work and qualify for a commercial pilot’s license.

1. Los Angeles Police Department: http://www.lapdonline.org
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_31080.htm
3. Los Angeles Police Department Officer Recruitment: https://www.joinlapd.com/

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