How to Become a Police Officer in Alabama
Hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the state of Alabama hire qualified recruits to take on the daily challenges of patrolling the streets. They pay competitive rates and offer significant benefits including medical insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave. Although the training process for new officers is rigorous, a career in law enforcement is one of the most rewarding opportunities in the public sector.
In order to effectively serve the community as a cop, one must be responsible, trustworthy, and self-motivated. Honesty is essential while interacting with citizens, court officials, and superiors. Sworn officers must be able to follow orders but also take command in emergency situations. Since inherent danger exists each day, deputies have to be prepared at all times to make split-second decisions that may result in use of deadly force. Both the recruit and his family members must be able to cope with the stress of a life in law enforcement.
The basic requirements that have been set by the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission provide direction to individuals who wish to join the state’s police force. Certification can be achieved by most trainees through adequate instruction and practice. Between its large number of academies and wide variety of law enforcement offices, the Yellowhammer State has plenty to offer to new recruits.
While different police departments and sheriffs offices have established their own preconditions for employment, all law enforcement agencies in Alabama must adhere to the statewide minimum standards. To begin the certification process, applicants must satisfy the following APOSTC requirements.
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Be at least 19 years old
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or ACT score of 18 or higher
- Hold a valid Alabama drivers license
- Have good moral character
- Have no felony nor misdemeanor convictions
- Have no dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces
Each new recruit must be examined by a certified physician and confirmed to be in good health. A psychological checkup is also necessary for the detection of potential problems in dealing with the demands of the job. Once the basic standards have been met and the appropriate examinations have been completed, the aspiring officer is ready to attend a training academy.
Police Training Academy
To achieve certification in Alabama, every recruit must attend 480 hours of instruction at an APOSTC-accredited police academy. Applicants are often expected to have a full-time job with a law enforcement agency in order to be accepted into a training program. They must pass all segments of the training course and become certified within the first six months of employment.
The Alabama Highway Patrol trains cadets at Selma’s Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center. In addition to military-style conditioning, potential troopers undergo extensive instruction in the following subjects.
- First Aid
- Criminal and Traffic Law
- Constitutional Law
- Defensive Tactics
- Accident Investigation
- Pursuit Driving
- Criminal Procedure
- Public Speaking
Each trainee for the Alabama Highway Patrol must be willing to work in any location in the state. He is assigned a trooper field training officer for his first eight weeks then receives a patrol car and operates on his own. After three years, the trooper can request a transfer to another division.
The Birmingham Police Department requires 920 hours of law enforcement instruction at its 20-week academy. Recruits learn appropriate methods of search and seizure along with many other tactics. The physical training aspect of the program includes the following tasks.
- Scale a six-foot fence
- Crawl through a 2′ x 2′ window opening
- Push a car 15 feet
- Drag a 165 pound dummy five yards
- Walk five yards on a balance beam
- Run a mile and a half within 15 minutes and 28 seconds
Upon certification, new officers at the Birmingham Police Department are placed under the supervision of a Field Training Officer for at least 16 weeks. This segment of the training process prepares the rookie for full responsibilities in the Patrol Division. After three years working on the streets, the officer is eligible for special positions ranging from canine handler to crime scene technician.
Law enforcement agencies around the state call for similar training and experience. Some departments, such asHuntsville, require employees to be 21 years old at the time of academy graduation. Most agencies include a mandatory polygraph test in addition to an extensive background check and drug screening. Applicants are normally asked to fill out an affidavit to certify that all requirements have been met according to Alabama title 36-21-46.
Benefits of a Career in Alabama Law Enforcement
Once the skills have been mastered, the Alabama law enforcement officer is rewarded for his efforts. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, he can expect to start at more than $40,000 a year if he works in a large city. The pay rate in less populated areas depends on the size of the jurisdiction and budgetary demands. Supervisors usually make over $60,000 annually.
Medical and life insurance coverage is among the most important benefits that are extended to officers in the state. A retirement plan that pays up to 72.5 percent of the employee’s base pay after 30 years is significant as well. Many sworn officers enjoy perks like the use of a take-home vehicle and the constant availability of overtime. Dependable officers can also boost their pay rates by obtaining an associates or bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of all, however, is gratification. Law enforcement personnel are typically committed to serving the general public in any way possible. Their dedication often goes above and beyond the basic requirements of the job. Capable individuals who are devoted to full-time community protection are always highly demanded in the state of Alabama!