The Personal Qualifications Essay Pqe

   Ever since I saw Police Academy I've been interested in being a cop. Going through all those tests and challenges just seems like so much fun. I'm highly competitive so any opportunity to win something or get into something, I'm interested in. So I headed down to an orientation to join the LAPD a few weeks ago. There were mostly young Hispanic men and myself. My intention was just to apply...but when the regular and reserve police officers talked about being a police officer, I got really inspired and started to see it as part of my civic duty, as a new American. Another way to participate in society. 


                               Reserve officer accessories

   I would have to be an LAPD reserve officer since I am over 35. A reserve officer goes through the same application process and the same training as a regular LAPD officer but only works two shifts a month. They still get a badge, a uniform and a Glock 22 gun. Imagine that!

   Step One: Preliminary Background Application and Job Preview Questionnaire The first thing I had to do was an online test and the bulk of it was questions about drugs and criminal activity. The drug questions were very specific. It listed a bunch of drugs (marijuana, hash, hash oil, steroids, PCP, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, mushrooms, barbiturates, hallucinogens, vicodin etc.)  and then you had to say whether or not you had tried that drug. If you answered yes, you had to say how many times and how long ago. Some of these questions come back later in your polygraph test so you really have to be honest. I was, and at the end of the test I was nervous as to whether or not I'd be permitted to continue. Another screen came up and I read; "you may proceed to the next step of the application process" and I relaxed. 

   Step Two: Personal Qualifications Essay The essay questions were really great and we had ninety minutes to finish them. There were a few more girls at this "event" which I thought was kind of cool. I was still clearly the oldest. We were to write about:  1) a time that we had made a bad decision and how that had impacted us; 2) a time when we had to lead a group of some sort, and; 3) a time that we helped someone in need. It took some thinking but I came up with some good stories from my past and was ready to write. Unfortunately I had started my training for the Boxing Match that morning and as a result, my hands started shaking and cramping when I started writing so it was a painful experience. Still, I finished with about 40 minutes to spare and got a letter that I had passed and scored an 85 about a week later.    

   With the letter came a huge packet with all kinds of information about what was next. First of all, there was a whole fitness section with a booklet where I was to record my physical activities. So every day I've been listing the type of exercise I've been doing, trying to increase my running in order to get up to what they require. I even shared it with my boxing trainer Mysti and she started to incorporate some of the things they listed into my training sessions with her. 

   I started to fill out the 26 page document they sent, listing every apartment I've lived in, every job I've ever had, names, professions and contact information for everyone in my family and for seven references who had to be within ten years of my age. (Thank you Ellie, Ron, Maya, Cyndi, Rachel, Toni and Francesca for being willing to be interrogated about me.)  I also had to make copies of my social security card, driver's license, citizenship certificate, car insurance...order college transcripts etc. A lot of work.

   Step Three: Background Investigation The day arrived for the background investigation part. I showed up to the Personnel Building downtown in my business attire at 6:30 am, ready for what they said could be a four hour appointment. Once there, I got another questionnaire with 165 questions to answer while they went over my 26 page document. Intense. It was yes or no, but if you answered yes to something, you had to write a brief essay explaining the circumstances; Why? Where? When? I was honest. Deeply honest. Perhaps too honest?


Some of my mistakes...

   I let them know about my medical marjuana card even though it's expired and I haven't gotten high in a while. I told them about the couple of times I stole candy bars at the super market when I was 7 or 8. I told them about the VERY few times I had tried other drugs, even why, with who, and how they made me feel. I told them that I had my car listed as being parked in Ojai after not living there anymore, to keep the lower car insurance rate. I told them I gave a friend with severe back pain some vicodin I had been prescribed after a root canal. After I was finished I sat down with an investigator to go over my answers. He asked me specifically about each instance where I had said yes, to clarify exactly what had happened, and to make sure this was the only instance for this particular "transgression." And on to the next. Exhausting but I thought I did well. I was honest, respectful, and even remorseful where applicable. 

   I guess they didn't agree because in spite of my perceived success at the interview, I got a letter in the mail yesterday saying that the LAPD has concluded that I don't meet their standards and will not be able to participate in the Reserve Office Program. There are a few different areas listed as important in order to meet the standards, and the areas they didn't think I was up to snuff in were: Decision Making & Judgment as well as Maturity & Discipline. WHAT PLANET ARE THEY FROM? HAVE THEY NOT MET ME? Perhaps this is way too egotistical and self-obsessed of me to say, but who makes better decisions than I? And who is more mature and disciplined? So, a bit disappointed today. But what a great ride and what a great experience.

Farewell sweet dream...

   The parts that I didn't get to experience (but was really looking forward to) was the Physical Abilities Test where you have to do a certain amount of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and also have to be able to drag a 165 pound weight for 32 feet (!) There was also the Polygraph test, the Department Interview, the Medical and Psychological Evaluation before you get to the Academy.

 Not my car...

   So today, I am a bit sad that I won't be riding along in that big black and white car and turn the siren on. And a bit disappointed that I won't be able to demand that everyone call me "Officer Cahn." But as far as the Glock is concerned, I know if I'm itching to shoot one I can always call Matt (of Number 17: Fire a Gun fame) and meet him at the gun range! 

City of Los Angeles - Personnel Department

Police Department Recruitment Brochure Online

Alphabetical Listing of Subjects

To go directly to a subject, click on alphabetical title listed below

Academy Trainee Program | Age | Background | Background Investigation | Benefits | Career Ladder | Certification and Appointment | Citizenship Requirements | Commitment | Communication | Consent Decree | Deferred Compensation | Dental Plan | Department Interview | Disability Benefits | Domestic Partner | Education Requirements | Health Plan | Health Requirements | Hearing | Height | Holidays | Initial Background Review | Job Preview Information | Job Preview Questionnaire | Lateral Entry | Mediation | Medical Evaluation | Pension Plan | Personal Considerations | Personal Qualifications Essay | Physical | Physical Abilities Test (PAT) | Physical Abilities Test Description | Physical Preparation Assistance | Police Specialist | Polygraph Examination | Preliminiary Background Application | Psychological Evaluation | Requirements | Salary | Selection Process | Sick Leave | Telephone Nos. | Test Schedules | Vacation | Vision | Weight




Failure to meet any of these requirements will result in your disqualification from the Police Officer Examination.


You must be 21 years of age at the time of hire. If you are not yet 21, you may take the written test if you are 20-1/2 on the written test date.


Graduation from a U.S. High School, G.E.D. or equivalent from a U.S. institution, or a California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) certificate. A two- or four-year college degree from an accredited U.S. or foreign institution may be substituted for the high school requirement.

CITIZENSHIP (Revised 10/2005)

The City of Los Angeles requires that a Police Officer candidate be a United States citizen, or that a non-citizen be a permanent resident alien who, in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is eligible and has applied for citizenship.

During the selection process, each non-citizen will be required to prove that USCIS accepted his/her application for citizenship prior to the date the Police Officer written test was taken.

California State law requires that citizenship be granted within three years after the employment application date. For information regarding citizenship requirements, please contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Federal Government.


Police Officers are responsible for protecting and serving the public and are entrusted with substantial authority to carry out these responsibilities. The public has the right to expect that such authority is given only to those individuals who have demonstrated by their conduct that they will use the authority given to them in the public’s best interests. Past behavior will be closely scrutinized and only candidates with the highest probability of success will be appointed as Police Officers. The background evaluation will include, but is not limited to, the following:

• Your past behavior and the choices you have made must demonstrate positive traits that will support your candidacy for Police Officer and reflect favorably on your character.
• You must have a history of lawful conduct.
• You must possess high standards of honesty and integrity as demonstrated by your dealings with individuals and organizations. Behaviors such as theft from employers or others, deceitful acts whether for personal gain or not, and falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting information on any document or during the selection process will be closely scrutinized.
• You must respect the rights of all people and have an appreciation for the diversity that characterizes Los Angeles. A history of domestic violence, physical altercations, or discourteous, abusive, or violent treatment of others may indicate a lack of self-discipline, an unwillingness or inability to cooperate, or a disregard for the rights of others.
• You must have a history of making responsible choices regarding the use of drugs and alcohol.
• Your employment and military (if applicable) histories must demonstrate the motivation and success-orientation critical to success as a Police Officer.
• Your financial and driving records must demonstrate responsible decisions and appropriate behavior.

In order to help you determine whether your background is suitable for the position of Police Officer, a Preliminary Background Application ("PBA") is available online. By completing this form you will be immediately notified if there are any issues in your background which may affect you in the Police Officer selection process. If any potential background issues are identified, you will be provided with the contact information for your Case Manager who will discuss your particular situation with you.


You must be in excellent health with no conditions that would restrict your ability to safely complete Academy training and to perform all aspects of police work. You must also be in good physical condition.


Your uncorrected distance vision must not be worse than 20/40, unless you wear soft contact lenses. Soft contact lenses must have been worn successful for at least three months in order to satisfy this waiver. Regarding refractive surgery, most persons who have had these procedures will be passed. However, some may be deferred for several months or disqualified based on an individualized assessment of the surgical outcome. Regarding color vision, you must be able to accurately and quickly name colors and you must be free of other visual impairments that would restrict your ability to perform law enforcement duties.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT (Revised 3/1997)

There is no minimum or maximum height or weight limit. However, Your weight must be appropriate for your height and build.


You must have normal ability to understand speech in noisy areas, understand whispered speech, and be able to localize sounds.

If you meet the minimum requirements listed, you may begin the selection process by taking the qualifying written tests. Written test sessions are offered five times each week, at five different locations throughout the City, as well as at frequent special testing events throughout the year. You do not need to call in advance to schedule testing. Just show up! No application is required, but you must bring your PBA and JPQ results with you to the test. The written tests are offered four times each week and every weekend. Testing is conducted on a walk-in basis and no application is required to take the tests.


$54,475 to $73,142

Starting salary for an entry-level Police Officer will vary within the range given. A two or four-year college degree is highly desired, and depending upon acceptable college credits and/or prior law enforcement experience, the starting salary will be above the minimum. New recruits receive regular salary and benefits upon beginning Academy training. Officers are paid bi-weekly. Salary adjustments are made periodically. Click here for existing Salaries, Advanced Step Hiring, and Bonuses.


The following are some of the benefits provided to Police Officers by the City. Additional information may be obtained by calling the Police Department's Recruitment Section at (866) 444-LAPD



Several options are available in health and dental plans for active employees and their eligible dependents. The City subsidizes all plans.


The City has an independent pension system to which both the employee and the City contribute. Employees hired after January 1, 2002 become members of Tier 5 upon graduation from the academy. Additional information on the pension system may be found at

The employee's contribution is currently eight percent and is not taxable, but is refundable if an employee terminates prior to eligibility for a pension. There is no participation in Social Security, but Medicare contributions are withheld.


Sworn employees receive twelve days of 100 percent paid sick leave, five days at 75 percent, and five days at 50 percent, upon hiring. Employees may accumulate up to 100 days at 100 percent, 75 percent, and 50 percent paid sick leave. Employees are eligible for a service-connected disability retirement from the date of graduation from basic training


Sworn employees receive 15 days vacation after one year of service and 23 days after ten years. Every sworn employee also receives a total of thirteen paid floating holidays per year, one day every four weeks.


Additional retirement financial planning can be accomplished through regular contributions to a deferred compensation plan. The funds deferred are not subject to State or Federal taxation until withdrawn.


A LATERAL ENTRY program is available if you have a valid California Basic Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Certificate. This program allows for a shortened Academy training period, although all other Police Officer requirements must be met. For further information call (213) 473-9060.


The City of Los Angeles has voluntarily agreed to a consent decree approved in Federal court which provides for increased representation of Blacks, Hispanics and women in the rank of Police Officer. In addition, the City is interested in increasing the number of Asian-Pacific Police Officers. Applicants who speak an Asian-Pacific and/or other foreign language(s) may be eligible for selective certification and bonus pay.


The written tests are offered four times each week and every weekend. Testing is conducted on a walk-in basis. A Preliminary Background Application (PBA) and a Job Preview Questionnaire (JPQ) must be completed online at before you appear for the written test. Once you fill out the PBA and JPQ online, you will receive immediate results regarding your responses. Be sure to bring your PBA results and JPQ results with you to the written test.

ONCE A MONTH TESTING is held on the first Monday of each month (except major holidays) at the Constituent Services Center, 8475 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90044 at 7:00 P.M.

SATURDAY TESTING is held at the Personnel Building, 700 E. Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 at 8:00 A.M. every Saturday (except holiday weekends). Free street parking is available. 

EVENING TESTING takes place each week (excluding holidays) at the following times and locations:

Every Monday evening at 7:00 P.M.
San Pedro Municipal Building
638 S. Beacon Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
Conference Room #452

Every Tuesday evening at 7:00 P.M.
Marvin Braude Building
6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91401
Conference Room 1A

Every Wednesday evening at 7:00 P.M.
Personnel Department Building
700 E. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Room 115-B

Every Thursday evening at 7:00 P.M.
Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall
6501 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Community Room

If you are not successful in the Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE), you may retake the test after 3 months. Candidates may not take the PQE more than once during a three-month period.


The Selection Process consists of twelve steps, all of which must be successfully completed before a candidate may be hired as a Police Officer. Generally, candidates must complete each step before being scheduled for the next. Successful candidates may expect to make four to five visits to various City testing sites during the process. PLEASE NOTE: The period for which test results are valid varies according to the test. It is the candidate's responsibility to make sure all his/her test results are kept current. Most successful candidates complete the Police Officer testing process in four months to one year.


All candidates must complete the on-line, interactive PBA and JPQ prior to taking the written test. Go to and click on the Preliminary Background Application and Job Preview Questionnaire. The online PBA will identify issues that you should resolve before beginning the selection process and will tell you if you have a realistic chance of success in the background investigation portion of the selection process. The online JPQ includes questions designed to help you better understand the nature of Police Officer work. Bring the printed results to the test site.


The PQE consists of essay questions related to judgement and decision making and behavioral flexibility. Your written communication skill will also be evaluated. A passing score (70% or higher) places you on the hiring list and is valid for 18 months. You may retake the PQE once every 3 months.

Candidates are not successful in the PQE for numerous reasons, including the following:
  • Using poor examples that fail to showcase their abilities and potential
  • Failure to provide enough details that would make the essays clear and easier to understand
  • Failure to stay on topic (i.e. rambling, too much detail, or irrelevant information)
  • Failure to provide all information asked for in the essay questions (i.e. did not completely answer the questions)
  • Lacks adequate written communication skills (i.e. English usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)

If you feel that you may need improvement in your written communication skills, we encourage you to take steps to improve in this area. You may want to consider taking a college course in business English and/or essay writing. Below are some courses offered through the Los Angeles Community College District that may interest you.*

Course NameCourse NumberDescription
Business EnglishBusiness 31 (or CAOT 31)Knowledge of English grammar and punctuation rules; practice in writing sentences and paragraphs
College Reading SkillsEnglish 20Techniques to improve reading skills and to write clear, coherent compositions
College Reading and Composition IEnglish 101Develops proficiency in college-level reading and writing through the practice of critical thinking and well-developed logical expository writing
* Course names, numbers, and descriptions from the Los Angeles City College 06-07 Catalog

For more information on the Los Angeles Community College District, please call (213) 891-2000 or visit


The Physical Abilities Test (PAT) consists of two parts. The first part is taken after placement on the eligible list and is administered at a City facility. It is designed to measure your strength, agility, and endurance. The second part, which consists of a treadmill test, will be administered usually at the time of the Medical Evaluation. The PAT is a pass/fail qualifying test. You may take the test parts as often as is necessary to pass, and the score is valid for 12 months.


The Background Review begins with completion of a Personal History Form, which requires compilation of extensive biographical information, completion of additional questionnaires, fingerprinting, and a background interview. An Initial Background Review will be conducted based on the background information you provide.


This review will be conducted by members of LAPD to assess your qualifications for a job in their department. Your testing and background materials will be reviewed. Only those candidates identified as having the highest probability of success will be scheduled for further processing.


A Polygraph Examination is conducted to confirm information obtained during your background interview.


While not every candidate will be selected for further processing, if you are selected you will undergo a background investigation. The investigative phase of the background process includes a thorough check of employment, police, financial, education, driving, and military records and interview with family members, neighbors, supervisors, co-workers, and friends. The fieldwork for this investigation will take anywhere from one to six months, depending on the complexity of the investigation. Findings are valid for 12 months.


A panel interview will be conducted to assess your personal accomplishment, job motivation, instrumentality, interpersonal skills, and oral communication skills. Only those candidates who are selected during this part of the process will be scheduled for further testing.


Medical Evaluation
The medical examination is thorough and it is essential that you be in excellent physical, emotional, and mental health with no conditions that restrict the ability to safely perform the essential functions of the police officer job. Good physical condition is necessary, as training in the Academy is rigorous. Failure to be in excellent physical condition may delay or disrupt training and result in a dismissal from the Academy. Medical examination results are valid for up to 12 months, at the discretion of the City's medical staff. Written psychological tests (valid for up to 18 months) and the second portion of the PAT will be administered at this time.

    Body Fat
    Each candidate will have their percent of body fat determined during the medical evaluation process. A candidate must not exceed the current body fat percentage standard. The current standard is: Female 30% and Male 22%.

    Vision must be at least 20/30 in each eye with the following exceptions. If glasses are worn, vision must be at least 20/30 in each eye while wearing the glasses and uncorrected distance vision must not exceed 20/70 in either eye and the better eye must be at least 20/40. If soft contact lenses are worn, they must have been worn for at least three months and vision must be at least 20/30 in each eye tested with the contacts in. If a LASIK procedure (refractive surgery) was performed, vision must be at least 20/30 in each eye. In addition, candidates must be able to accurately and quickly name colors, and must be free from other visual impairments that would restrict the ability to perform law enforcement duties.

    Candidates must be able to understand speech in noisy areas, understand whispered speech, and localize sounds. Specialized testing methods are used to determine hearing capability. Although hearing aid use is not automatically disqualifying, additional specialized tests will be administered to determine if the use of hearing aids will be permitted.
Psychological Evaluation
The Psychological Evaluation consists of an individual oral interview and evaluation by a City psychologist on factors related to successful performance in the difficult and stressful job of Police Officer. The information evaluated includes the written psychological tests completed during the medical evaluation along with information obtained in the background investigation process. The results are valid for 12 months.
    Disqualifying Psychological Factors
    Candidates with a history or prior diagnosis of a psychological or psychiatric condition, including learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder, or who have been treated with psychotropic medication or therapy, will be asked to provide relevant medical records before a final psychological determination can be made.

    Certain conditions that have been suspected or diagnosed such as most learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity, may require additional testing and review of relevant medical records. In many cases these conditions/diagnoses result in a disqualification due to a lack of adequate treatment and persisting symptoms.

    Other conditions such as bipolar disorder, recurring major depression, with or without psychotic features or suicidal ideation, recurring anxiety disorders, with or without panic attacks, obsessive/compulsive disorder, and most diagnoses leading to a psychiatric hospitalization are highly disqualifying. Although the candidate will be asked to provide relevant medical records documenting the conditions and treatment received, these conditions often provide a basis for disqualification for a police officer position.


Certification and Appointment are the final steps in the selection process. This is a highly competitive process. Candidates must demonstrate their positive attributes at each step of the selection process. You must pass all test parts, be identified as the most qualified candidate by LAPD, and possess a valid Conditional Job Offer in order to be certified for hiring consideration. Appointments to the Police Academy are made by the Police Department from the civil service eligible list in accordance with the score on the eligible list and provisions of the Consent Decree.

(Revised 10/2005)

Among the toughest challenges for applicants and recruits are the physical requirements of both the Police Officer test and the Police Academy itself. We place a good deal of importance on physical conditioning because of the physical demands placed on Police Officers in the field. As part of the Police Officer examination, you will be required to pass the Physical Abilities Test, which currently consists of two portions. The first portion of the test consists of three events designed to measure endurance, strength, and agility. The second portion of the test consists of a measure of aerobic capacity.


The first test portion is taken after placement on the eligible list and is administered at the City of Los Angeles Personnel Department Building - 700 East Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 - First Floor Lobby.

It consists of three (3) events designed to measure endurance, strength, and agility. A passing score will be based upon the cumulative score of all three test events. The first two events will each be performed more than once; the average of the attempts is used in the cumulative score.

The Physical Abilities Test (Part I) consists of the following three (3) events, administered in the following order:


You will have ten (10) seconds to move from one side of the center line to the other side as many times as possible. Performed two (2) times.


You will have five (5) seconds to pull horizontally as hard as possible while gripping a pair of handles. Performed three (3) times.


You will have two (2) minutes to pedal as many revolutions as possible against a pre-set resistance. One (1) try.


The second portion of the test consists of one event designed to measure aerobic capacity. For candidate safety, it will be administered usually at the time of the Medical Evaluation after appropriate medical screening at the City of Los Angeles Medical Services Division Building - 432 East Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.


This test measures aerobic capacity. The treadmill is programmed to SIMULATE running 1.5 miles in 14 minutes on a track. During the test, the speed and incline of the machine will vary and, as a result, the actual test time is 10 minutes and 20 seconds. The pass/fail score for this test is based upon your completion of this test for the specified period.

Passing the Physical Abilities Test indicates only the minimum level of fitness required to begin academy training. Once in the Academy as a recruit, you will be required to perform physically at much higher levels.

If you are unable to perform any one of these exercised, you should initiate a regular physical fitness program to prepare yourself for the Academy. Before beginning, it is recommended that you receive a medical examination from your own physician. Remember, you do not achieve excellent physical fitness overnight and it does take physical and mental effort.

LAPD’s Recruitment Section has a program designed to assist you to prepare for the Physical Abilities Test.



Among the most difficult challenges for both candidates and recruits are the physical requirements of the Police Officer examination and the Police Academy. Physical conditioning is stressed because of the physical demands placed upon Officers in the field. As part of the Police Officer examination, you will be required to pass the Physical Abilities Test (PAT). Passing the PAT indicates only the minimum level of physical ability required to begin Academy training. Once in the Academy, you will be required to perform physically at much higher levels.

You should initiate a regular fitness program to prepare for the PAT and the Academy. Before beginning, it is recommended that you receive a thorough medical examination from your own physician. The Training Division of the Los Angeles Police Department has prepared a "Four-Month Pre-Academy Fitness Program." This program is designed to help candidates attain a minimum level of fitness that will help ensure success in the academy.

To further assist candidates, the Los Angeles Police Department offers physical training classes free to all police candidates who have taken and passed the Personal Qualifications Essay. Prepare for the PAT with the Candidate Assistance Program (CAP). Subject to change, the classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. except on holidays. All classes are held at the Los Angeles Police Academy, 1880 N. Academy Drive, Los Angeles, California. Participants must wear athletic supportive clothing, workout gear and suitable running shoes. Do not call the Police Academy about this class. Additional information and current schedule may be obtained from the Police Department's Recruitment Section at (866) 444-LAPD.

NOTE: This physical training class is NOT mandatory and is only designed to assist you as a Police Officer candidate. Participation in the class does not automatically qualify you to be hired. All candidates must pass the civil service Physical Abilities Test.


Advancement within the Los Angeles Police Department is of two types: (1) promotion and (2) assignment to a higher pay grade. The word "promotion" refers to an advance from one Civil Service class to another, such as from Police Officer to Detective or Sergeant. Promotion is always from an eligible list established by the Personnel Department as the result of a Civil Service examination. "Assignment to a higher pay grade" is assignment to a position carrying greater responsibility or expertise, without a change in Civil Service class. Examples would be reassignments from a Police Officer II to a Police Officer III position, or Detective I to a Detective II. Reassignment from Police Officer I to Police Officer II is automatic upon successful completion of 18 months of service (the Academy training and field probation period). Most assignments to higher pay grades are the result of Police Department internal selection procedures.

After completion of the eight-month Police Academy training, Police Officers are assigned to one of the geographic areas to serve as patrol officers. Probationary officers are assigned to a Training Officer during their one-year field training. The next two to three years are spent in patrol assignments. Specialized assignments such as METRO Division, Motorcycle Units, Air Support Division, etc., require extensive experience prior to application. Police Officers are eligible to compete in the Police Sergeant or Police Detective examinations after four years of service.

Promotion from Police Officer may be either to Police Detective or to Police Sergeant. A promotion may also be accomplisheSubstance Screeningd between Detective and Sergeant. Promotion from Sergeant or Detective is to Police Lieutenant; from there on, there is only one promotional ladder. Successive rungs of the promotional ladder are Police Captain, Police Commander, Police Deputy Chief, and Chief of Police. The position of Assistant Chief is a pay grade advancement within the civil service class of Deputy Chief.

The basic Sergeant position is a field supervisor position; this is the position for which Sergeant promotional candidates must demonstrate their qualifications. There are also administrative and specialist assignments for Sergeants. Detectives do specialized or generalized follow-up investigative work. Examples of the assignments in this civil service class are personnel background investigators, undercover narcotics investigators, internal affairs investigators, and traffic accident follow-up investigators.

Requirements and duties descriptions for higher ranks can be found in job bulletins published by the Personnel Department.



The City of Los Angeles strives to hire the best candidate for every position. Our goal is to fill each job with a person who is well qualified, has an interest in the job, and who will be committed to a career in that field. To do this, we feel it is important to give each applicant a realistic description of the job and its tasks so that the candidate can decide for him or herself if the position is truly one in which there is interest and ability to do well.

As a Police Officer with the City of Los Angeles, you will be required to perform a large variety of tasks. These tasks will encompass many diverse aspects including learned skills and "people" skills. Some of these may be appealing to you, some may not. Some of the skills you will need to perform will be taught to you in the Academy and some rely on traits you bring with you to the position. We urge you to consider the entire job of Police Officer and not just the exciting or glamorous aspects.

What follows is a realistic preview of the types of tasks which are required of all Los Angeles Police Officers. They are intended to give you a better understanding of the job and consequently your willingness and abilities to perform the job on a daily basis. The list is not intended to be exhaustive or to describe every task required of a Police Officer. Please take a moment to truly consider whether the job of Police Officer fits you, as well as whether you fit the job of Police Officer.


Police Officers are required to fill out many different forms, logs, and reports. Correspondingly, Police Officers must write legibly and clearly and have a good working knowledge of English grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and spelling. Police Officers must be concise, descriptive and thorough in all written documents.

Police Officers constantly communicate with members of the community. It is crucial to initiate contact with members of the community to better understand the needs and problems of a particular area. Police Officers must possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills to interact with the public on a daily basis. Police Officers also must interview and obtain information from victims and witnesses of crimes in a manner appropriate to the situation and culture of the people involved.

Police Officers meet with and make presentations to groups of residents and/or business people from various neighborhoods regarding local crime, traffic, and related problems.

Police Officers may be required to work the front desk at a police station. This involves numerous activities including answering phone calls from the public; taking reports; explaining the law and LAPD policies; listening and responding to complaints about police service, and handling complaints from citizens who walk into the station.

Police Officers must testify accurately and credibly in court regarding arrests, reports taken, evidence recovered, and victims' statements.

Police Officers must employ excellent listening skills, in person and on the telephone. Officers must listen closely to what is being said and retain that information, identifying needs and emotions being expressed and demonstrating interest and involvement.

Police Officers deal with all segments of society. Some members of the general public may have hostile feelings toward Police Officers and may express their hostility to the Officer in words or actions. A Police Officer must always behave professionally in the face of provocation.


Police Officers must evaluate situations, determine whether a crime has taken place, and make an independent decision as to what action is appropriate. In doing so, the Officer must simultaneously consider numerous factors, recognize patterns, and develop theories based on available information and evidence.

Police Officers must attend daily roll call meetings. In these meetings, vital information is given about suspects, planned or suspicious activities, and crimes in their area. Officers must organize this information for use during their shift. Officers must plan and complete their activities and paperwork in a timely and efficient manner.

Police Officers must pay attention to detail, noticing minute elements or components of a particular person or crime scene. Officers must also be able to visualize and recall an event after the fact in order to construct documentation of the event, possibly for future court testimony. Officers also recognize and gather evidence at the scene of a crime, and they are responsible for the safe storage and transportation of this evidence.

Police Officers are required to learn and memorize large quantities of complex and detailed material, including Penal Codes; legal terms; LAPD procedures and policies; Health and Safety Codes; Laws of Arrest; Search and Seizure Law, Laws of Evidence, etc.

Police Officers must be able to operate a computerized Mobile Digital Terminal (MDT). Officers must use the keyboard and special function keys using LAPD call codes and computer language to access the various types of information needed. Officers also use the MDT to receive assigned coded calls and communications from other units. Officers must be able to accurately initiate and respond to clear, precise communications over the MDT.

Police Officers must develop problem solving and reasoning skills in order to initiate innovative solutions to difficult and unique problems which are faced while on duty.


Police Officers resolve citizen conflicts such as business, neighbor, family and traffic-related disputes. Officers must separate the parties involved, interview them, and try to calm them down, and mediate a solution to the problem. These disputes can be loud, emotionally charged, combative and time-consuming.

Police Officers monitor and control crowds at scenes where tensions may run high such as picket lines and demonstrations. Officers must observe crowd behavior and communicate with group leaders to keep peace and order among those gathered.

Police Officers must exhibit leadership by taking control of situations, inspiring confidence, delegating tasks, and providing a positive example for others.

Police Officers must use their interpersonal skills to calm distraught persons, subdue angry or combative persons, and coax uncooperative persons into cooperating and providing information.


Police Officers may be involved in numerous physically demanding activities throughout the work shift. These may include : pursuits of suspects in a police vehicle or on foot, walking foot patrol for up to eight hours, physically subduing, detaining and arresting sometimes combative suspects, physically searching suspects, performing rescues by dragging or carrying victims, performing CPR and first aid procedures, controlling crowds, serving arrest or search warrants, and driving a patrol car.

Police Officers must be able to use firearms in a proficient manner. After Academy training, Officers are required to prove their proficiency with firearms by "qualifying" at the Academy periodically.

Police Officers must be able to respond to calls for help by using directional information such as north-south, left-right, and so on.

Police Officers work in all parts of the City, under all types of conditions, with all types of people. Officers may be required to search and/or touch suspects who are dirty, neglected, injured, or bleeding. Officers also may be required to enter buildings or establishments which are unsanitary or structurally unsound.

Police Officers, after establishing probable cause, must detain and/or take suspects into custody. This involves Department-approved techniques and equipment such as verbalization, control holds, batons, guns and handcuffs to physically subdue suspects while treating them with as much dignity as possible and using the minimum force necessary.


Police Officers typically work with a partner. This means that Officers will often spend a minimum of eight hours per day in a car or on a foot patrol with the same person, maintaining a professional working relationship.

Police Officers must be able to work under a great deal of pressure, yet still maintain a clear head and a positive attitude and work ethic.

Police officers in the City of Los Angeles deal with a wide variety of people. Officers must be open-minded, fair, unbiased and sensitive to deal with people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and life-styles.

Police Officers may work any hour of the day, all days of the week, including holidays. Schedules are subject to change, and many times overtime is required. Officers must be adaptable and willing to adjust to frequent compulsory changes in work shifts, work locations, and other factors.

Police Officers are representatives of the City of Los Angeles. They are also symbols of stability and trust and must always behave ethically and resolve moral conflicts appropriately, both on and off the job.


In an effort to enhance the success factor for recruit officers entering the Police Academy, the Los Angeles Police department offers the Academy Trainee (AT) program to qualified Police Officer candidates waiting to begin their recruit training. Police Officer candidates are eligible for the AT program after they have successfully completed all steps in the Police Officer application and hiring process.

The AT program prepares Police Officer candidates both physically and mentally for Police Academy Recruit training. ATs are paid while they receive training in subject areas identified as crucial for success in the Academy. As a result of this training, individuals who participate in the AT program tend to have a reduced recruit training attrition rate. AT training is based on a five-week core program. The core curriculum consists of extensive physical and psychological preparatory training, instruction in various academic subject areas, practical instruction in drill and equipment care and usage, and work experience. ATs are required to meet and maintain minimum standards in physical training, academics and general demeanor.

Areas included in the AT program are: physical training and conditioning; a counseling program which covers such areas as job expectations, stress management, assertiveness training, and developing support networks; basic English; practical training such as equipment care and uniform inspection preparation; and hands-on experience in typical assignments such as patrol, administrative and investigative duties.


If you need additional information, you may visit the Personnel Department Public Safety Bureau, 700 E. Temple Street, Room 150, Los Angeles, CA 90012. You may also call (213) 847-LAPD or (213) 473-9060 for current test information. If you wish to speak with a Police Department Recruitment Officer, you may call (866) 444-LAPD.


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