How to Become a Police Officer in Louisiana?
The state of Louisiana has recently been pushing some long-due criminal justice reforms. In 2017, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) reforms were passed with a huge majority. People in Louisiana are mostly in support of alternatives to incarceration, such as drug treatment or rehab programs. As the state continues to work towards creating a system that is fair and more flexible, the jobs of the law enforcement officers becomes even more important. These officials are on the frontline, dealing with inmates, convicted felons and those awaiting their bail. If you want to contribute towards making Louisiana a safer place, you can play your part by becoming a police officer in Louisiana.
The following guide will help you understand the process to become a police officer in Louisiana, the requirements, duration and career info.
To become a police officer in Louisiana, you will need to follow a series of steps. The following steps will give you a good understanding of the process in general. For a detailed version, you will have to check the website of the individual police department in the state that you intend to apply to.
- Meet the Eligibility Criteria
Before beginning the application process, candidates must ensure that they meet the following criteria to become a police officer in Louisiana:
- Candidates must be at least 21 years of age
- Candidates ought to be citizens of the US
- Candidates should not have a criminal record
- Candidates should have an honorable discharge from the military (if applicable)
The basic criteria are by and large the same across the state. However, there might be differences in the details. You can get detailed information via the official website of the police department you are applying to.
- Meet the Educational Requirements
It is generally accepted that the minimum requirements for entry into a police academy is a high school diploma or an equivalent. Candidates should be able to demonstrate their ability to fully understand and apply the knowledge learned.
Even though it is not a mandatory requirement, getting an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice could be a bonus. You may take courses in areas such as law enforcement, criminal sciences or political science.
Getting into a police academy is tough due to high level of competition, so pursuing higher education might actually work out best for you. Even if you don’t go for higher education, it would be useful if you get some real world experience before applying for a job in the police department.
- Pass the Entrance Exam
Before you begin your training, you will be required to pass several examinations known as postsecondary placement tests. These are meant to gauge whether you have the required basic skills to join the police force or not. In addition to this, you will also have to clear the following tests as part of the entrance examinations:
- Physical Assessment
- Psychological Test
- Polygraph Test
- Medical Check-up
- Background check
- Begin Training at the Police Academy
If you clear the above process and are selected, the next step would be to complete a police academy training. Aspiring police officers ought to be prepared for a rigorous regime of academic and physical training. This training typically lasts around 3 to 4 months, though this time frame may vary according to individual police department’s policies. During the training period, you will be given knowledge on the following disciplines:
- The use of firearms
- Self-defense tactics
- Weight training
- Traffic control
- First-aid training
- Defense tactics such as how to apprehend criminals and subdue them in a tense situation
In addition to these, you might also have to complete some elements of academic training. This would include topics such as:
- Policy writing
- Hostage negotiation
- Criminal psychology
- Investigation techniques
- Civil rights
Louisiana police officers can train in one of the several police training academies in the state. These include:
- Baton Rouge Police Training Academy – Baton Rouge, LA
- Capital Area Regional Training Academy – Baton Rouge, LA
- Shreveport Regional Police Training Academy – Shreveport, LA
- Municipal Training Academy – New Orleans, LA
- Orleans Parish Training Academy – New Orleans, LA
- Acadiana Law Enforcement Training Academy – Scott, LA
- On-Field Training
A very important part of your training process will be the on-field training exercises. Upon graduation from the police academy, you might be required to complete a certain number of hours of field experience under the supervision of a senior police officer. This will help you develop an understanding of how things go during a day if you are a police officer in Louisiana.
- Areas of Specialization for Police Officers in Louisiana
Once you have completed the entire process of becoming a police officer in Louisiana, you may choose to specialize in a specific area of law enforcement. Even though this is not a mandatory requirement, it gives you the choice of working in the field of your preference. Duties and responsibilities would vary according to the specialization you choose. You might also have to go through additional training relevant to your chosen area of expertise. Common specialization options for police officers in Louisiana include:
- Firearms instructions
- Canine unit
- Fingerprint identification
- Chemical analysis
- Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT)
How long does it take to become a police officer in Louisiana?
It may take you up to 2 years to become a police officer in Louisiana. This time investment would vary according to individual department’s requirements and according to the job you are applying for. You may apply to become a Louisiana Trooper or a Highway Patrol Officer in Louisiana. You can also become a Sheriff Deputy in Louisiana. Police departments you can work for in the state include the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD), among several others.
Career Outlook for Police Officers in Louisiana
The state of Louisiana is expected to provide several opportunities for aspiring police officers in the coming years. The annual mean wage of Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in Louisiana was $41,550, as of May 2018. The employment in this category was 11,810, which is higher than many other states. In fact, Louisiana ranks at number three on the list of states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in the occupation. The following table provides a list of five states that have the highest employment in this occupation:
|District of Columbia||5,540|
According to data for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers from O*Net Online, the employment for police officers in Louisiana is expected to experience an upward growth of 9% in the years between 2016 and 2026. This is higher than the national average of 7%. The projected annual job openings are 820.