How to Hire a Police Officer

Does your municipal organization need a police officer? Police officers enforce the law and patrol in specific jurisdictions.

Here are some tips to help you find great police officer candidates and make the right hire for your municipality.

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Police officers searching for jobs on Indeed*

244,441

Job seekers that clicked police officer jobs

41,837

Resumes for job seekers with police officer experience on Indeed

4,045

Police officer jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring police officer?

  • Common salary in US: $53,327 annually
  • Typical salaries range from $15,000$113,000 annually
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – April 2021

As of April 2021, police officer jobs in the U.S. are less competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 60 job seekers per police officer job.

Why hire a police officer?

The need for new staff can affect your existing team and bottom line. A great police officer can:

• Maintain public order through establishing a calm but noticeable presence
• Conduct routine patrols and drive-bys to monitor potential criminal activity
• Respond to domestic calls and emergencies

What are the ranks of police officers?

Police officers typically start as patrol officers and work their way up. Specific ranks and steps can vary by police department, with each rank having more responsibility and supervisory duties. Common ranks of police officers include:

  • Patrol officer: This rank includes sworn police officers who patrol the city and interact with the public. They typically drive patrol cars but might ride bikes, patrol on foot or use another mode of transportation. Some cities have different levels of patrol officers.
  • Police detective: These officers are usually a similar rank to patrol officers, but they focus on investigating crimes. 
  • Police sergeant: Sergeants take on a supervisory role, often training officers, investigating internal complaints, being involved in disciplinary action and serving as a watch commander or assistant watch commander.
  • Police lieutenant: Police lieutenants have more management tasks, such as evaluating officers, assigning duties and handling administrative work.
  • Police captain: A captain is often in charge of a particular precinct or department and is considered an upper-management role. They might handle budgeting, policies, crime data analysis and department representation.
  • Chief of police: The chief typically oversees the entire department and is often an elected official.

Where to find police officers

To find the right police officer for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Collaborate with colleges. Look for local colleges that offer a criminal justice or similar program. Offer ride-along opportunities, volunteer as a class speaker or participate in other ways to recruit students who might want to become police officers.
  • Recruit from related fields. Consider military veterans, security guards, game wardens and other related professions with skills that transfer to police work.
  • Promote from within. Recruit civilian personnel already working in your department, such as police service technicians, who might make good police officers.
  • Post online. Sharing videos, interviews and other materials to promote the benefits of being a police officer on your social media pages and website can help attract new recruits.
  • Post your job online. Try posting your police officer job on Indeed to find and attract quality police officer candidates.

What are the ranks of police officers?

Police officers typically start as patrol officers and work their way up. Specific ranks and steps can vary by police department, with each rank having more responsibility and supervisory duties. Common ranks of police officers include:

  • Patrol officer: This rank includes sworn police officers who patrol the city and interact with the public. They typically drive patrol cars but might ride bikes, patrol on foot or use another mode of transportation. Some cities have different levels of patrol officers.
  • Police detective: These officers are usually a similar rank to patrol officers, but they focus on investigating crimes. 
  • Police sergeant: Sergeants take on a supervisory role, often training officers, investigating internal complaints, being involved in disciplinary action and serving as a watch commander or assistant watch commander.
  • Police lieutenant: Police lieutenants have more management tasks, such as evaluating officers, assigning duties and handling administrative work.
  • Police captain: A captain is often in charge of a particular precinct or department and is considered an upper-management role. They might handle budgeting, policies, crime data analysis and department representation.
  • Chief of police: The chief typically oversees the entire department and is often an elected official.

Writing a police officer job description

A thoughtful description can help find qualified police officer candidates. A police officer job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your police officer job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on police officer jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Police officer
  • Law enforcement
  • Police
  • Armed security officer
  • Armed security
  • Criminal justice
  • Government
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Special police officer
  • Police recruit

Interviewing police officer candidates

Strong candidates for police officer positions will be confident answering questions regarding:

• Previous experience in patrolling and working with communities
• Protocol for routine traffic stops
• Their understanding of local laws within their jurisdiction

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of police officer interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a police officer

How do I choose between two good police officer candidates?

Compare personality and soft skills to evaluate which candidate is better equipped to handle the pressures of police work. Interpersonal skills are crucial since officers interact with the public regularly and represent the department and city. Having a good relationship with citizens is essential to having support for the police department. Consider how well each candidate’s values align with your department’s core values and mission.

What does a police officer wear?

Police officers wear department-issued uniforms to make them easy to identify as law enforcement. Dark blue or navy is a standard color for police uniforms, and the uniforms often have certain badges or insignias, along with a name tag for the police officer. Officers might wear body armor, hats, holsters for service weapons and other department-issued gear. 

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