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Public Safety Job & Career Guide
Law Enforcement


Growing concerns over the quality of life especially with crime, increased government revenues in a strong economy, and a shortage of qualified candidates have contributed to a demand for police and other law enforcement candidates.

Employment Mega Links in Criminal Justice offers a State-by-State breakdown of police agencies with employment links.

Check out the listings and links at our Government Jobs pages for current openings.


Getting hired for a law enforcement position will include most if not all of the tests or evaluations below.  The tests will be administered in a sequence to be determined by the law enforcement agency.  A number of the tests are conditional on passing other tests.

Written Test
The written test typically measures reading comprehension, English usage, reasoning, and written communication skills.  An essay may also be administered as part of the written test.

Law Enforcement Test Guides are available from Amazon at up to 40% off retail prices.

The interview may be structured or unstructured and include questions regarding your personal history; problem-solving abilities; working effectively with the other people, including supervisors, peers and a diverse public; ability to communicate effectively; and personal qualities including motivation, integrity, and self-discipline.

Free job interview tips and sample questions are available from

Medical Examination / Written Psychological Test
A thorough medical exam is given to insure that candidates are in excellent health with no conditions which would restrict their ability to safety perform as their law enforcement duties.  The written psychological test consists of several personality and life history questionnaires. The results are evaluated by psychologists and may be used in conjunction with an oral psychological evaluation.

Physical Abilities Test (PAT)
The PAT consists of a number of physical activities to measure a candidate's strength, agility, endurance, and balance.  For example, the California Highway Patrol test includes:

  • 100-Yard Sprint
  • Upper Body Strength Test
  • Trunk Strength Flexion Test
  • Side Step
  • 500-Yard Run

Background Investigation
The Background Investigation may include fingerprinting, photos and a background interview. The investigative phase of the background process includes a thorough check of police records, personal, military and employment histories, as well as reference checks. The criteria for the Background Investigation are respect for the law; honesty; mature judgment; respect for others; employment and military record, financial record, driving record, and use of drugs and intoxicants.

Psychological Interview
Your interview is based on the factors related to successful performance in a difficult and stressful job environment.  The interview may be based on the   written psychological tests as well as the background findings.

Certification and Appointment
Certification and Appointment are the final steps. Successful completion or passing of all other steps is required prior to Certification and/or Appointment.   Your name may be certified so that the law enforcement agency can select those best qualified for appointment.  More names are provided than there are vacancies.

Pre-Employment Substance Screening
A pre-employment substance screening for drugs and alcohol may be required prior to appointment.


Connect to the following resources to find out about the latest in law enforcement:

National Sheriffs' Association features crime prevention information along with research and development.

Law Enforcement Links is the guide to law enforcement links on the web.

The Police Officer's Internet Directory includes links for Employment, Terrorists, Radicals, Investigations, and SWAT.


  1. A Review Guide for the Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation (Serial), Gregory L. O'Hara, 1998
  2. Criminal Investigation, Wayne W. Bennett, 1997
  3. Police Field Operations, Thomas F. Adams, 1997
  4. Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation (Elsevier Series in Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations), David E. Zulawski, 1996
  5. The Art of Investigative Interviewing: A Human Approach to Testimonial Evidence, Charles L. Yeschke, 1997
  6. Written and Interpersonal Communication Methods for Law Enforcement, Harvey Wallace, 1996



  1. Management & Supervision of Law Enforcement Personnel,  Frank Lombardo, 1997
  2. Police Administration, James J. Fyfe, 1996
  3. Supervision of Police Personnel/Study Guide, 1994
  4. Supervising Police Personnel: The Fifteen Responsibilities,  Paul M., Ph.D. Whisenand, 1998
  5. Supervision of Police Personnel (Supervision of Police
    Personnel, 5th Ed)
    , Nathan F. Iannone, 1993

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Law Enforcement Test Guides are for promotional exams available from Amazon at up to 40% off retail prices.

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