Police officers are responsible for enforcing the law and maintain order. They not only require a high school diploma but are also required to go through rigorous training at a police academy. Police officers may also complete degree programs in criminal justice or law enforcement. These qualifications are always looked upon in favorable light when considering a candidate. Besides, candidates are recruited after a number of psychological and fitness tests.

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Police Officer Job Description

Police officers are not just responsible for apprehending criminals and enforcing laws, they have a plenty of office work to do as well. Following are some of the major responsibilities of police officers:

  • Chasing criminals
  • Patrolling the assigned areas
  • Writing reports
  • Keeping a record of cases
  • Testifying in courts

It all depends on the size of police department, whether police officers will have general police duties or will be assigned to a specialized unit. Typically, larger departments require police officers to perform specialized work. Some of the duties may include graphology, chemical analysis, and firearms training. Some police officers are assigned to special units, such as:

  • Special weapon units
  • Motorcycle, bicycle, horseback units
  • Harbor Patrols
  • Canine Divisions
  • Emergency response teams

The probationary period of police officers may last from six months to three years.

Steps to become a Police Officer in NJ
How to Become a Police Officer in NJ

Steps to become a Police Officer in NJ

  1. Minimum Requirements

There are some basic eligibility requirements that you must meet before becoming a police officer. These requirements include:

  • Minimum 18 years of age but not older than 35
  • There is no age restriction for military veterans
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • US Citizenship
  • Valid Driver’s License for the state of New Jersey
  1. Look for Jobs

After having checked the minimum requirements for becoming a police officer in NJ, you would need to look for opportunities. You can find testing information and job announcements on the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (CSC) website. Here, you may look for job postings related to sheriff’s deputies, as well as police officers.

  1. Law Enforcement Examination

You can find announcements related to the Law Enforcement Examination (LEE) on the CSC website. First, you would need to send an application to sit for the LEE written exam and it will require you to pay $35.  The test is offered at different locations in New Jersey; however, it takes place on the same day. While submitting your application, you would need to state your preferred test location. You would have to pass this test in order to become eligible for any entry level positions in law enforcement.

  1. Eligible Pool

Once you have passed the LEE, you become a part of the Eligible Pool for two years. Law enforcement agencies within the Civil Service use the Eligible Pool to select candidates for vacant positions.

  1. Certification List

The Certification List is prepared from the Eligible Pool. It includes the ranking of eligible candidates based on their LEE score and military service experience. The Certification List is assigned to an Appointing Authority and police officers are then hired from this list. However, having your name on the Certification List does not confirm that you will be interviewed or selected for an entry level job present in a police department.

  1. Background Check

Background check is conducted by the Appointing Authority and it is not the responsibility of Civil Service Commission. Every agency or jurisdiction has its own Appointing Authority, which carries out the background check. Although, passing the background check does not mean that the police department will hire you.

  1. Medical and Psychological Test

It is the responsibility of Appointing Authority to arrange the psychological and medical tests the candidates are required to take. You will need to clear both tests to move ahead in the recruitment process.

  1. Standards for Prospective Trainees

Some new standards are set by the Police Training Commission. In order to meet the standards for physical fitness, you would need to be able to do the following:

  • Run 300 meters in 70.1 seconds
  • 24 pushups in 1 minute
  • Vertical leap of 15 inches
  • 28 sit-ups in 1 minute
  • Run 1.5 mile within 15 minutes and 55 seconds

You would need to pass all the above tests. If you fail in even one test, you won’t be able to clear the fitness examination. In addition, retesting is not allowed in physical fitness exam. You would need to go through these tests within the 20 weeks of your orientation at the police academy.

Career Outlook for Police Officers in NJ

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS states that there were 20,650 police and sheriff’s patrol officers employed in New Jersey in May 2021. Their mean hourly wage was $44.08, while the mean annual wage was $91,690.

Below is a list of the top 5 states with the highest employment level for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in the US as of 2021.

State Employment
California 70,050
Texas 60,440
New York 49,910
Florida 45,360
Illinois 30,640

According to O*Net OnLine, police and sheriff’s patrol officers in New Jersey will enjoy a 4% increase in job opportunities from 2020 to 2030.

Duration to Become a Police Officer in New Jersey

To become a police officer in New Jersey or any other US state, it will take you around 4 to 6 years to join the force. The duration will vary as per your educational qualifications, and the time it takes you to complete the entire hiring process.

Salary of Police Officers in New Jersey

In 2021, New Jersey was the third highest paying state for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the US, with a mean annual income of $91,690. Below are the top 5 highest paying US states for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in 2021.

State Annual mean wage
California $102,920
Washington $92,390
New Jersey $91,690
Alaska $87,510
Illinois $82,800

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What are some of the special units that a police officer can be assigned to?

Ans: Within a police department, there are a number of different special units which have specialized job duties and requirements. Some of these special units include the special weapons unit, harbor patrols, emergency response teams, motorcycle, bicycle, and horseback units, and canine divisions. To learn more about the individual special units, please check out the website of the police department you’re interested in.

Q: What physical fitness standards must prospective candidates meet?

Ans: Law enforcement is a physically demanding field, and for this reason, new recruits must be physically fit. In order to pass the fitness examination, candidates must do 28 sit-ups in a minute, 24 pushups in a minute, be able to do a vertical leap of 15 inches, run 1.5 miles in 15 minutes and 55 seconds, and so on. Each of these tests must be cleared in order to pass the fitness examination.

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