Embarking on a career in law enforcement in Georgia is no small decision; it requires steadfast dedication, physical grit, mental acuity, and an unwavering commitment to serving and safeguarding your community.
This article will serve as your roadmap, outlining the specific steps to becoming a police officer
in Georgia, from understanding the prerequisites and the rigorous application process, to navigating the testing phases and making it through the police academy. Whether you’re fresh out of school, considering a career shift, or have always aspired to wear the badge, we’re here to guide you through this noble and demanding pursuit.
Featured Programs and Schools
|High school diploma or equivalent
|Training from Police Academy, Moderate on-the-job training
|Assertiveness, Courage, Confidence & Negotiation Skills, Open-mindedness, Team Player, Quick Response, Community Awareness, Decision-Making Skills, Communication Skills, Writing Skills, Empathy & Compassion, Physical Fitness & Endurance, Ethics & Integrity, Conflict Resolution Skills.
|Annual Mean Salary – Georgia, GA (2022)
|$49,520 (Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers)
|Job Outlook – Georgia, GA (2020-2030)
|10% (Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022) and O*Net Online
As the most visible members of law enforcement, police officers play an important role in maintaining law and order in a city. To become a police officer, it is important to be open-minded and motivated to make a difference in community. For anyone looking to be a police officer in Georgia, the following steps are the basic requirements.
- Education Requirements & Background Check
- To become a police officer, the very first step is to complete high school diploma or obtain GED.
- It is not mandatory to have an associate or bachelor’s degree to become a police officer but many departments across the country now give weightage to applicants who have acquired two years or four-years degree.
- Some of the basic requirements include being a US citizen with a valid driver’s license.
- It is a must for applicants to be physically fit, which means good vision and hearing, mental strength, and stamina, agility, and physical strength.
- Applicant is required to have a clean criminal record and no prior felony charges or drug abuse of any kind.
- Clear Police Entrance Exam
- Applicants are required to pass Georgia’s police officer selection test that is based on ASSET plus COMPASS test.
- Applicants are tested on mathematical skills, reading and writing, grammar, and analytical skills.
- Graduate from Police Training Academy
- Cadets at the Georgia Police Academy are required to complete 408 course hours which takes approximately 11 weeks to finish.
- During the course, cadets are given thorough training in safety and survival, arrest techniques, physical security, firearms, and defensive tactics.
- Cadets also learn about criminal law, writing reports, communications, and interviewing.
- Obtaining Police License & Finding Job
- To be able to work as a police officer in Georgia, it is important to get certification.
- After you have obtained a license, find a suitable job that meets your requirements.
- The structure of a police department starts with police officer, moving up to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, staff inspector, chief inspector, and deputy commissioner.
How long does it take to become a police officer in Georgia?
The time taken to become a police officer in Georgia can vary based on several factors, including the specific department’s requirements, the time it takes for you to complete the application and pass all examinations, and the duration of the police academy.
Generally, it takes about six months to a year to become a police officer in Georgia. Here’s a rough breakdown:
- Application process and eligibility screening: 1-3 months
- Written exam and physical ability test: 1 month
- Personal background check, polygraph examination, and psychological evaluation: 1-3 months
- Police Academy: 11 weeks for Basic Mandate Law Enforcement Training at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, but some police departments may have their own academies which can last up to 6 months.
- Probationary period: After graduation from the academy, new officers typically complete a probation period where they will receive on-the-job training. The length of this period can vary, but it typically lasts about 6 to 12 months.
Remember that these timescales are only averages and the process may be faster or slower depending on individual circumstances and the specific department.
Types of Police Officers in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, as in many other states, there are several types of police officers, each with their unique responsibilities and jurisdictions. Here are the primary categories:
- City Police Officers: City or municipal police officers are employed by individual cities and towns. Their jurisdiction is typically confined to the city limits. They are responsible for maintaining peace, enforcing laws, responding to calls for service, and carrying out investigations within their assigned areas. Examples include the Atlanta Police Department, the Savannah Police Department, and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
- County Sheriffs and Deputies: In Georgia, every county elects a sheriff who is responsible for law enforcement in unincorporated areas within the county boundaries. The sheriff’s office is also often tasked with running the county jail and providing security for the county courthouse. Deputies are officers who work under the direction of the sheriff.
- State Troopers: Also known as Georgia State Patrol officers, these officers have statewide jurisdiction and are part of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Their responsibilities often include enforcing traffic laws on highways, assisting in emergencies or disasters, and supporting local law enforcement agencies with additional resources as needed.
- GBI Agents: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is a statewide agency that provides assistance to local and state law enforcement agencies. GBI agents often work on more complex or sensitive cases such as homicides, drug crimes, and cybercrimes. They also conduct major fraud and corruption investigations.
- Transit Police: These officers are responsible for safety and law enforcement within transit systems. For example, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has its own police department.
- Campus Police: Many colleges and universities in Georgia have their own sworn police officers who have the same authority as any other law enforcement officer. Their jurisdiction usually includes the college campus and surrounding areas.
- Natural Resource Rangers: The Department of Natural Resources in Georgia employs rangers who enforce laws related to wildlife, environmental protection, and state parks.
Each of these types of officers plays a crucial role in maintaining safety and order across the state of Georgia. However, the path to becoming any of these officers often starts with the same basic requirements and training, with more specialized training provided based on the specific role.
Best Police Training Academies in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, there are several excellent police academies offering thorough training and preparation for a career in law enforcement.
- Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC): Located in Forsyth, GPSTC is the primary police academy for the state of Georgia. It offers the state-mandated Basic Law Enforcement Training Program, an 11-week course covering all the foundational knowledge and skills for law enforcement.
- Atlanta Police Academy: Operated by the Atlanta Police Department, this academy offers a comprehensive and rigorous 22-week training program. It includes physical fitness, firearms training, emergency vehicle operations, and community policing, among others.
- Savannah Police Department Professional Development Center: Serving the city of Savannah, this academy offers a 22-week program, offering more than 900 hours of training in subjects including Georgia law, criminal procedure, physical fitness, crisis intervention, and defensive tactics.
- Columbus Police Academy: This academy, run by the Columbus Police Department, provides comprehensive training that includes instruction in laws and procedures, defensive tactics, physical fitness, firearms, and first aid.
- DeKalb County Police Academy: Located in Decatur, this academy is known for its high standards and comprehensive training program. Training is provided in a variety of areas including criminal law, community relations, emergency vehicle operation, and firearms safety and proficiency.
- Cobb County Public Safety Police Academy: The Cobb County Police Academy offers a 20-week training program that provides recruits with a solid foundation in law enforcement. The curriculum includes legal, operational, behavioral, physical fitness, and first aid training.
- Gwinnett County Police Training Center: This training center, serving Gwinnett County, provides an extensive 22-week basic mandate program. The training here emphasizes on hands-on, reality-based training scenarios in addition to traditional classroom instruction.
All of these academies emphasize a blend of practical skills, theoretical knowledge, physical fitness, and character development. It’s essential for prospective officers to remember that the academy they attend will often depend on the hiring department. Departments may have their own police academies or may send recruits to state-run academies like GPSTC.