How to Become a Police Officer in Iowa
The state of Iowa is unique in its low poverty level and below-average crime rate. It houses about one percent of the U.S. population and has only one city (Des Moines) with more than 200,000 residents. As in every state, however, police presence is a must for keeping law and order. Every city and county government seeks capable, enthusiastic people who are willing to serve the community alongside currently certified officers. Meanwhile the Iowa State Patrolkeeps the interstate highways safe for travelers.
In order to join the ranks of these fine men and women, one must meet all the minimum requirements that have been set by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Council. This group consists of sheriffs, police chiefs, deputies, elected officials, federal agency representatives, and citizens from around the state. They work together to administer standards that ensure the highest professionalism among law enforcement agencies. The most basic requirements are as follows.
– Be a U.S. citizen and a resident of Iowa (applicant can become a resident when hired)
– Be 18 years of age or older
– Have a valid Iowa drivers license
– Have no drug or alcohol addictions
– Be of good moral character (to be proven through a background investigation and fingerprint search)
– Have no felony convictions nor record of crimes involving moral turpitude
– Meet the state’s physical fitness requirements
– Be willing to apply “Use of Force” tactics to fulfill duties
– Have a high school diploma or GED
– Have uncorrected vision of at least 20/100 in each eye (corrected to 20/20)
– Have color vision to meet the demands of a job in law enforcement
– Have normal hearing in each ear (hearing aids are acceptable as long as hearing is sufficient for the demands of a job in law enforcement)
– Have a medical exam by a certified doctor to prove that health is conducive to a career in law enforcement
– Undergo a psychological test
– Pass cognitive (basic skills) testing
Potential recruits who wish to attend a police academy in Iowa must first be hired or sponsored by a law enforcement agency in the state. Some community colleges have academies but require incoming students to hold either a two or four-year degree in Criminal Justice or Police Science. When applying for employment, applicants must keep in mind that individual departments may have higher standards than the basic requirements of the Council. For example, theCedar Rapids Police Department has a maximum age limit of 64 and asks that candidates be able to speak, read, and write the English language.
New officers must become certified within the first year of employment in order to continue working for the department. If the hiring agency runs an in-house training facility, then recruits can enjoy the convenience of the location. Some academies serve multiple units; the Des Moines Regional Academy, for instance, provides instruction for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Des Moines Police Department. ILEA, on the other hand, works in conjunction with the Iowa National Guard in the use of firearms ranges and spaces for tactical training. The grounds at Camp Dodge in Johnston include dormitories that can accommodate up to 112 students at once.
The basic police academy at ILEA takes about 14 weeks to complete and requires 576 hours. The City of Cedar Rapids increases the necessary instruction to 18 weeks at 720 hours. Some of the topics covered at an Iowa law enforcement training school are as follows.
– Accident investigation
– Crash injury management
– Building searches
– Vehicle stops
– Firearms training
– Defensive tactics
– Physical training
– Felony calls
– Interrogation methods
– Criminal investigations
– Crime scene investigation
– Report writing
– Criminal law
– Testifying in court
– Ethics and professionalism
– High speed pursuit
– Radar instruction
– Taser instruction
– Field sobriety testing
– First aid
After becoming a seasoned officer, each recruit has the option to pursue further training in areas such as internal affairs, first line supervision, instructor development, test proctoring, and media relations.
A longstanding career in law enforcement offers great diversity. Large police departments in particular are divided into specialized units that keep sworn personnel in the learning mode. Whether training a police canine or performing advanced tactics with the SWAT team, officers face challenges daily. Below are a few examples of special assignments that may be available to the non-probationary recruit.
– Narcotics and vice unit
– Criminal investigations
– Marine patrol
– Motorcycle squad
– School resource division
– Mounted police
– Bomb squad
– Crime prevention
– Honor guard
– Homeland security