There is an extensive selection process for California police officers prior to being hired by law enforcement agencies. We will cover the minimum California police requirements, POST requirements, and potential additional department standards.
The minimum peace officer selection standards are set forth in Government Code Sections 1029 and 1031. The minimum California requirements state that every peace officer must be:
18 years of age 20.5 years of age ( legally it’s 18, to graduate academy it’s 21 )
A citizen of the United States or a permanent resident alien who is eligible for and has applied for citizenship ( CHP officers must be US citizens at the time of appointment )
A high school graduate, pass the General Education Development ( GED ) test or other high school equivalency test approved by CDE, or have attained a two-year, four-year, or an advanced degree from an accredited or approved institution
Fingerprinted to discover and disclose any criminal record from local, state, and national fingerprint databases
Free of any felony convictions
Found to be free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition which might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer
Penal Code Section 13510( a ) gives POST the authority to establish minimum selection standards for peace officers employed by agencies that participate in the POST program. These peace officers must, at a minimum, meet the selection standards outlined in the Government Code, and pass the POST selection requirements contained in Commission Regulations 1950-1955 prior to hiring. These regulations include:
Per Commission Regulation 1951, applicants must be able to read and write at the levels necessary to perform the job of a peace officer as determined by the use of the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery ( PELLETB ) or other professionally developed and validated test of reading and writing ability. The PELLETB is provided to law enforcement agencies in the POST program at no charge.
Commission Regulation 1952 stipulates that every peace officer applicant be interviewed prior to employment to determine the applicant’s suitability for law enforcement service. The six mandated interview factors for the oral interview include experience, problem-solving ability, communication skills, interest/motivation, interpersonal skills, and community involvement/awareness.
The history of a peace officer applicant must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that the applicant is of good moral character [Government Code 1031( d )] and that nothing in his/her background is inconsistent with performing peace officer duties. The background investigation is also conducted to ensure that the applicant meets the minimum selection requirements of Commission Regulation 1953 and Government Code Section 1031.
California Government Code 1031( f ) requires all California peace officers to be free from any “physical condition which might adversely affect the exercise of peace officer powers.” Commission Regulation 1954 implemented the medical screening requirements established in Government Code 1031. As described in Commission Regulation 1954, the physical evaluation must be conducted by a licensed physician and surgeon.
California Government Code 1031( f ) requires all California peace officers to be free from any “emotional, or mental condition which might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer.” Commission Regulation 1955 implements the psychological screening requirements established in Government Code 1031.
The selection standards described above are POST-required minimum selection standards. Per Penal Code Section 13510( d ), local agencies/departments may set standards that exceed these minimums. Peace officer applicants may be subjected to additional evaluations and/or assessments required by individual law enforcement agencies. These additional California police requirements may include physical ability testing, drug screening, a polygraph examination or voice stress analysis, and/or a pre-offer personality test.