The state of Massachusetts currently has 16,700 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working under the Massachusetts State Police Department (MSP). In order to join ranks with these officers, there are a number of requirements aspiring police officers must fulfill. The state has high standards in its police recruitment programs and the entire process of becoming a police officer in Massachusetts can be very challenging. If you are interested in learning how to become a police officer in Massachusetts, the following information is what you need to know:
All aspiring police officers in the state are required to meet a set of basic criteria. These are the state-mandated standards for new recruits that must be satisfied. Individual police departments in different localities might have additional standards or slightly different requirements, but by and large, the state-wide requirements remain as follows:
- The applicant must be a US citizen (or should be naturalized before the time of hire)
- The applicant needs to be between 21 and 35 years of age at the time of hire
- The candidate should not be a smoker
- The candidate must pass a specified physical fitness test, along with a medical examination and a psychological test
- The candidate must not have any felony convictions
- The candidate must be an official resident of the state of Massachusetts
- The candidate should have a valid driver’s license at the time of application
Step 2: Educational Requirements to Become a Police Officer in Massachusetts
In terms of education, Police Officers in Massachusetts must have at least a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. However, those who have higher qualifications, such as college degrees at the associate, bachelor’s or master’s level, will be considered favorably. In addition to that, for applicants who want to become a part of the police force with a high school diploma, the state offers a unique path for growth. The Police Career Incentive Pay Program (PCIPP) gives aspiring police officers the opportunity to earn a college degree using funding provided by the state. Alternatively, the same department offers funding to college students who want to become police officers in the state of Massachusetts. According to the Journal of Police Science and Administration, “a police officer with a 4-year degree has a 73% chance of superior performance”. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the department encourages candidates to get college degrees.
Once you have met all the basic requirements to become a police officer in Massachusetts, you can apply to enter the police force, during the official hiring period. After clearing all the relevant physical, psychological, health and criminal background checks, you will have to enroll in a police training academy. All police recruits in Massachusetts are required to graduate from one of the municipal police academies, six regional academies for police training, or the Massachusetts State Police Academy. All training academies in the state are in accordance with the principles set forth by the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council.
The training requirements are determined by the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC). There are five MPTC Training Academies in the state that offer the MPTC-designed basic training program. These include the following:
- Boylston Police Academy – Boylston, MA
- Plymouth Police Academy – Plymouth, MA
- Reading Police Academy – Reading, MA
- Randolph Police Academy – Randolph, MA
- Western Mass Police Academy – Springfield, MA
After being hired, recruits are required to complete around 20 weeks of intensive physical and academic training at a police academy within the state. The program is very challenging and rigorous. Therefore, the candidates are discouraged from holding any outside employment during training.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following numbers for Police and Detectives hold true, across the US:
|2016 Median Pay||$61,600|
|Typical Entry Level Education||High School Diploma/College Degree|
|On-the-job Training||Police training academy completion|
|Number of Jobs, 2014||806,400|
|Job Outlook, 2014-2024||4%|
|Employment Change, 2014-24||33,100|
O*NET OnLine provides a comparison between Massachusetts’ police officers salary and the salary of police officers in the rest of the US.
O*NET OnLine also provides information on the median salaries of different cities within the state of Massachusetts. This data might help you decide which city you want to become a Police Officer in. Have a look:
|Boston – Cambridge – Quincy||$70,210|
|Brockton – Bridgewater – Easton||$68,770|
|Lawrence – Methuen – Salem||$66,760|
|Leominster – Fitchburg – Gardner||$66,610|
|Taunton – Norton – Raynham||$63,720|
|Lowell – Billerica – Chelmsford||$63,120|
|Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard BOS||$60,200|
The Duties of a Police Officer
Police Officers are typically responsible for the performance of the following tasks in Massachusetts:
- Enforce laws
- Respond to emergency and non-emergency calls
- Conduct traffic stops and issue citations
- Look for vehicle records and warrants using computers in the field
- Obtain warrants from the relevant authorities and arrest suspects
- Collect and secure evidence from the crime scene
- Observe the actions of suspects and determine what they could be up to
- Write detailed reports and fill out forms required in the daily operations at the department
- Prepare cases and testify in court when the need arises
Most police officers are required to patrol their assigned jurisdiction and investigate any activity they might find suspicious. They are required to wear uniforms when on duty to allow the public to easily recognize them as officers.
Some police officers may work with a specific type of crime, or in special units, such as SWAT or canine corps. The job is highly demanding and stressful and can be dangerous quite often. Officers are required to be alert throughout their shift and manage the danger levels in a manner that minimal harm is caused. The work is typically full time, and paid overtime is common.