Police Training In The US

How Are Police Officers Trained In the US

In developing its professional staff, the United States Capitol Police (USCP) empowers individuals to reach their full potential, ensuring professional growth and career opportunities within the Department.  –The United States Capitol Police

The United States boasts having one of the most trained and professional police forces in the world. Becoming a police officer involves years of rigorous training. Even then, there is no assurance that you would fully qualify to become a full pledged police officer.

Becoming a police officer is more of a passion than a means of employment for many people. They find satisfaction knowing that they are contributing to keeping their country safe and peaceful. Police officers are often chosen not for what they have done, but rather what they could do to serve the country.

This is why most states do not require applicants to have any bachelor degrees. A high school degree is already sufficient when applying for officership. Nevertheless, the training they undergo assures that they are well equipped when facing real life scenarios.

Requirements To Become A Police Officer

The basic educational requirement for a police trainee is a high school diploma. However, there some police academies that still prefer an applicant with a bachelor or associate degree.

Some other requirements necessary to apply for police training include a US citizenship and age above 18 or 21 years old, depending on the police department. The United States Capitol Police, however, requires applicants to be at least 21 years of age.

Candidates who have any criminal backgrounds or felony offenses are automatically disqualified from training. A thorough background investigation will be conducted to any person who wishes to apply. (1)

If the applicant passes all these requirements, he is then required to take various entrance exams carried out by police academies. Each police academy has the freedom to formulate its own exams and schedule. Hence, an applicant must prepare for the exam created specifically by the academy he is applying to. (2)

After going through all these, the candidate is now ready to go through six months to a year of intensive training.

Major Subjects Taught in Police Academies

Police academies assure that each and every graduate is well rounded when they start their enforcement careers. The best way they can do this is to create curriculums that encompass as many topics as possible. (3)

Listed below are some of the major topics that are discussed in police academies.


This subject is meant to teach police trainees the technical and procedural processes and steps that police officers take when doing their job.

Some topics discussed under this subject are report writing, patrol procedures, investigations, traffic accident investigations, emergency vehicle operations, basic first aid, and computer/ information services.

Weapons, Defensive, and Offensive Tactics

The central concept taught in this subject is how police officers can protect themselves from outside threats. It also shows them the proper handling and maintenance of both lethal and nonlethal weapons.

Some topics included in this subject are defensive tactics, firearms skills, use of force, and nonlethal weapons.


How a police officer acts and behaves all depend on how their mental state has been trained. The difference between a good cop and a bad cop are the principles that have been imbued within them during their earlier years.

Hence, it is necessary that police academies help their trainees to differentiate what is right and what is wrong. This topic also teaches trainees how to take care of themselves. Some items included here are ethics and integrity, health and fitness, communications, professionalism, and stress prevention/management

Legal Education

It is essential that police officers know which acts are considered as legal and which ones are not. This way they are able to adequately monitor whether the citizens under their protection or even them are already committing illicit acts.

Under the legal education subject, some topics police trainees are expected to take are criminal and constitutional law, traffic law, and juvenile justice law. This subject could actually encompass more topics since it is the major basis of how police officers do their job.

Police Training By State

As it was mentioned above, each state has the power to formulate its own police training. This was done due to the varying cultures and environments each state has. Hence, the training in Washington may not prepare police officers in Texas, and vice versa.

Every single day, police officers risk their lives to protect the citizens of the United States. Whether they get enough credit for it does not matter to them. What is important to them is the fulfillment they get knowing that they are keeping the fellow men safe.

The great power and responsibility vested upon police officers mean that a simple mistake on their part can end in a disaster. Luckily, the rigorous training they undergo creates respectable and reliable keepers of peace.

No doubt that each step of the way prepares a police officer into fulfilling their promise to “Serve and Protect.”