The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD), established on February 1, 1940, serves as the primary law enforcement agency for the residents of Arlington County, Virginia, covering an area of 26 square miles.

With a workforce of 377 sworn police officers, the department operates on an extremely professional level. The ACPD has undergone significant events in its history, including a reorganization in 1963 that gave it its current name and its response to the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon in 2001.

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Organizational Structure

The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is structured into various divisions, each headed by a Deputy Chief and comprising several sections and units. Key divisions include:

Office of the Chief: This division includes the Office of Professional Responsibility, and a Media Relations and Public Affairs section.

Community Engagement Division: Overseen by Deputy Chief, this division focuses on community outreach, youth outreach, business outreach, and the Arlington Restaurant Initiative.

Criminal Investigations Division: This division handles property crimes, digital forensics, financial crimes, homicide/robbery, special victims, tactical/criminal intelligence, and organized crime sections.

Operations Division: This division includes patrol sections, special operations, and tactical operations sections.

Systems Management Division: It includes the Human Resources Management Section and Support Management Section, focusing on personnel, recruitment, training, career development, false alarm enforcement, and evidence inventory management​​.

Responsibilities and Operations of the Arlington County Police Department

The responsibilities and operations of the Arlington County Police Department include:

Geographic-Based Policing: Officers handle emergency and non-emergency calls, preliminary criminal investigations, special event planning, and school liaison duties.

Collaboration: Regular work with state, regional, and federal law enforcement partners.

Specialty Teams: Includes Special Operations, K9 Unit, Emergency Response, Civil Disturbance, Crisis Negotiation, School Resource Officers, Community Policing District Teams, Bike/Segway Patrol, and Honor Guard.

Mission: Focused on reducing crime and improving quality of life in Arlington County, ensuring a safe environment for all residents.

Core Principles: Guided by values of courage, competence, commitment, compassion, restraint, respect, and integrity​​.

Arlington County Police Officer Requirements

To become a police officer with the Arlington County Police Department, applicants must meet several requirements:


Completion of 60 semester hours of college work at an accredited college or university. Applicants within six months of completing this requirement may apply. Substitutions include:

  • One year of full-time post law enforcement academy experience.
  • Two years of continuous active duty in the U.S. Military with an honorable discharge.


Applicants must be at least 20 years and 6 months old at the time of application.

Physical Condition

Good physical condition as determined by a licensed medical professional provided by Arlington County Government.

Special Requirements

Non-tobacco users only, with an agreement to abstain from tobacco use on and off the job.


Must be a United States citizen.

Driver’s License

Valid driver’s license from the state of residence at the time of application.


Applicants undergo a preliminary background investigation. A good driving record and clean criminal history are essential. Felony activity, certain misdemeanors, and recent DUI/DWI convictions may be disqualifying.

Substance Use

Strict guidelines regarding the use of marijuana, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and anabolic steroids​​.

Steps to Become an Arlington County Police Officer

To become a police officer with the Arlington County Police Department, candidates must go through a comprehensive recruitment process that consists of the following phases:

Application and Testing Phase

Submit Application: Candidates start by submitting their application online.

Police Entrance Exam: Eligible applicants must pass the Police Entrance Exam, which includes cognitive abilities, personal work-style, and life experiences components.

Assignment of Background Investigator: Following the written exam, applicants are assigned a background investigator.

Interview Phase

Interview by ACPD Officers: Applicants are interviewed based on their personal history statement and background investigation.

Topics of Discussion: Interviews cover personal and work history, interest in law enforcement, personal strengths and weaknesses, personality traits, and law enforcement scenarios.

Background Investigation Phase

Polygraph Examination: To assess honesty and integrity.

Psychological Evaluation: Includes a formal interview and testing with a psychologist.

Medical Evaluation: A comprehensive physical evaluation, including drug screening.

Offer of Employment

Probationary Employment or Eligibility List: Successful candidates may receive an offer of probationary employment or be placed on an eligibility list for six months.

Academy Training: Recruits attend the Northern Virginia Regional Criminal Justice Training Academy in Ashburn, VA, starting either in the winter or summer sessions.

The hiring process typically spans 2-5 months, and applicants are hired on a rolling basis throughout the year. Once hired, recruits receive full salary and benefits from their date of hire​​​​.

Arlington County Police Training Academy

The new recruits attend the Northern Virginia Regional Criminal Justice Training Academy in Ashburn, VA. The training for new officers at the Arlington County Police Department is comprehensive and thorough, encompassing several stages:

Pre-Academy Training

Before starting at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJA), recruits receive training in shooting fundamentals, geography, constitutional law, departmental policy, functional fitness, and formation. This is conducted by ACPD’s Training and Career Development Unit and lays the foundation for their basic training.

Basic Training at NVCJA

New officers undertake over 800 hours of training curriculum at the NVCJA. This training covers a wide array of skills and knowledge necessary for law enforcement duties, preparing officers for the diverse challenges of the job. The academy runs twice a year, with each session lasting six months.

Field Training

After completing the basic training, officers undergo a 12-week Field Training Program. They work with a Field Training Officer (FTO) who mentors, teaches, and evaluates them as they apply their academy knowledge to real-world situations.

Ongoing Training

Throughout their careers, Arlington County officers have access to external training opportunities through the NVCJA, reciprocal agreements with other county academies, and federal and state law enforcement agencies. Internal training includes tactics, vehicle operations, firearms, and department-specific programs and initiatives. This includes specialized training for Active Violence Events and Crisis Intervention Training, equipping officers to handle a variety of situations effectively and safely​.

Salary of Police Officers in Arlington County

According to the Arlington County Police Department’s website, the starting salary of a sworn police officer is $68,503.50 per year. All new recruits get a $3,000 signing bonus too. The maximum starting limit for lateral officer salary is $87,789.

ACPD also offers other benefits like:

  • Medical Insurance.
  • Dental Insurance.
  • Basic & Supplemental Life Insurance.
  • Sick Leaves.
  • Defined Benefits.
  • Deferred Retirement Option Plan, etc.

Career Outlook for Police Officers in Arlington County

The national and state-wise job growth of some law enforcement professions in Virginia are:

Occupation National Growth  (2022-2032) Virginia Growth (2020 and 2030)
Detectives and criminal investigators 1% 1%
Fish and game wardens -6% -5%
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers 3% 8%

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

Arlington County Law Enforcement Careers

Law enforcement careers in Arlington County offer a variety of opportunities for professional growth and specialization. Key aspects of these career opportunities include:

Ancillary and Specialty Unit Assignments

After 2-3 years on solo patrol, officers can apply for specialty units like the Community Outreach Unit, Business Outreach Unit, K9 Unit, Special Operations Section, and Tactical Unit. Ancillary assignments include SWAT, Tactical Operations Section, Civil Disturbance Unit, Crisis Negotiation Unit, and more​​.

Promotional Opportunities

Promotion to Corporal: Eligible after three years of law enforcement experience, including two with the Arlington County Police Department. This involves a written exam and assessment.

Positions at Corporal rank: Detective in various units, Community Engagement Division roles, and positions in the Human Resources Management Section.

Promotion to Sergeant: Eligible with at least four years of experience as a sworn police officer and completion of college coursework​​.

Career Development Programs

Mentoring Programs: These include the Mentor Program for New Recruits and the Legacy Mentor Program, designed to support officers at different career stages.

Arlington County Career Development Cohort Programs: These programs, offered through the County’s Human Resources Department, cover a range of professional development opportunities​​.

Support for Continuing Education

Tuition Assistance: Arlington County Government provides tuition assistance for classes related to current positions or future career development.

Advanced Degree Discounts: Sworn staff can pursue advanced degrees at discounted rates through accredited institutions.

External Development Programs: Opportunities through George Mason University, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the Leadership Center for Excellence​​.

These career paths and development opportunities reflect the department’s commitment to professional growth and community service.

1)Police and Detectives:
2)Virginia Employment Trends Detectives and Criminal Investigators:
3)Virginia Employment Trends Fish and Game Wardens:
4)Virginia Employment Trends Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers:
5)About – Official Website of Arlington County Virginia Government:
6)Official Website of Arlington County Virginia Government:
7)Careers at the Arlington County Police Department: