Becoming a Police Officer

So you want to become a police officer? Here are some things you ought to know:
How do I attend the Police Academy?
Becoming a police officer in Oregon begins with your being hired by a police department. You must be hired as a police officer before going to the academy.
What are the minimum requirements?
The absolute minimum requirements for a police officer in Oregon are:
• 21 years old
• Possess a High School Diploma or GED Certificate
• Ability to demonstrate reading and writing at a 12th grade level
• US Citizen
• Possess a valid license to operate a motor vehicle
• Meet basic medical and physical requirements
• No Criminal convictions for any felony, drug crime, or law subject to denial or revocation as listed in OAR 259-008-0070
What kinds of people are successful in being hired?
While these are the minimum requirements the reality is that between 18 (when most people graduate HS) and 21 (when you are able to be hired) most people competing for the job have been doing something. They either have substantial work history, military experience, or college degrees. In Astoria, every police officer we have hired in the last twenty years has either had military experience, some college, or a substantial history as a reserve police officer. Most have had at least a two year degree.
What is the hiring process like?
The hiring process starts with a job application. We require an application for the position, a cover letter and resume. We will grade your application packet and assign a score based on the completeness of the application packet and the experiences demonstrated. In general you will receive a higher score if you have college degrees, military experience, or public safety experience.
We invite all applicants to take a written test. The Astoria Police Department uses the test provided by the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP). The test is called the Police Officer Selection Test. It is certified by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) to satisfy the requirement that you demonstrates the ability to read and write at the 12th grade level. This test takes several hours to complete. The test is taken as a group and each section of the test is timed separately, you can’t move on until the entire group moves on.
Generally the same day that we offer the written test we will also hold the physical fitness testing. This is a pass fail test. The test used is the Oregon Physical Abilities Test. It is a test based on a job task analysis of the police officer position and is designed to measure your ability to physically perform the rigorous job of police officer. It begins with a 1235 foot obstacle run, a push pull machine and a dummy drag. Details of the test can be found at the DPSST website ( This test is a pass fail test. While the academy student will be required to pass the test with a time of less than 5:30 prior to graduation the standard will be something above that for passing the test day of hire. The higher time is based on the fact that times decrease with each time the test is run. We move to the next standard deviations out from the original study. The standard will be announced the day of the test.
Based on the application scoring and written test the applicants who passed the ORPAT are ranked. Generally we will interview the top 10-14 applicants. The interview will consist of a board or boards of 4-7 people evaluating your answers to behavioral and experiential questions. Boards may be made up of department personnel, community members, city staff, public safety partners or any combination of those groups. While we don’t expect successful applicants to know the job of a police officer we expect that they have paid attention to what it is that police officers do, have good common sense, good communication skills and represent themselves well. This is the time that you have to sell yourself to us.
At the end of the interview process we first eliminate any applicants that we find unacceptable. Generally this is because of a disclosure during the interview, an answer that demonstrates complete lack of understanding of the position or lack of common sense, or someone who does not present them selves appropriately. We then rank the remaining applicants. Those applicants at the top of the list may receive an interview with the chief of police as well.
The successful applicant will be asked to complete a Pre-employment Investigative Questionnaire (PIQ). The PIQ forms the starting place for the background investigation. A competent background investigation is required for certification as a police officer. The Astoria Police Department takes this portion of the hiring seriously. It is where we will find out about you and the decisions you have made up to this point. It involves your credit report, a criminal history inquiry, driving records check, verification of any certifications, transcripts, or documentation you provided. It will also look into your ability to represent yourself well. This includes social media, interviews with friends, roommates, coworkers, acquaintances, neighbors, and others who know you or know of you. Our background investigator is looking for any reason to say no to you.
If the Chief of Police is satisfied with your background investigation he will make a contingent offer of employment. This offer is contingent on nothing else appearing in your background, a successful psychological examination, physical examination, and drug test. Once all of those are passed, you will receive the job offer on a non contingent basis.
So You Got Hired?
After getting hired, you will be placed in a training status. We will not put you on the road even with a coach until you have been through the police academy run by Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). The DPSST Academy is 16 weeks and is held at the DPSST site in Salem Oregon. After completion of the Academy you can expect a Field Training Officer to guide you through the process of becoming an Astoria Police Officer. At the completion of the training cycle you will be expected to be a functioning member of the patrol division of the department. It is not until this completion that you will operate in a solo capacity as a police officer.