How to Become a Police Officer in Kansas
Kansas is a Midwestern state that evokes images of farmland and open plains. Police officers in Kansas have a rewarding and challenging career. Law enforcement officers must have excellent communication skills, practice good judgement, be physically fit and be willing to help people.
Police work is hard work, as can be the process to become a police officer. There are several steps that must be successfully completed, which can take several months to get through the process in order to be hired.
Kansas Police Officer Requirements
The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (KS-CPOST) sets the basic requirements and training standards for law enforcement officers in the state.3 The commission establishes the professional standards to ensure there are qualified, trained, competent and ethical officers in the state.
The Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act covers the requirements for certification as a law officer, the KS-CPOST, ongoing training obligations and other regulations for peace officers in the state. The minimum requirements for police officers, as established by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act are:
- Must be a United States Citizen
- Must be at least 21-years-old
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Have no felony convictions or misdemeanor domestic violence convictions. A candidate must not have any convictions that indicate dishonesty, untrustworthiness or lack of integrity.
- Must be fingerprinted with a search of local, state and national fingerprint files to determine criminal record
- Must be of good moral character
- Pass psychological assessment
- Must be free of any physical or mental condition that affects the ability to perform the essential job functions
While the minimum standards do not require the possession of a college degree, individual agencies may require a degree or prefer recruits to have an education beyond high school. There is also a lot of competition in the field of police work, making college courses or a degree helpful.
Departments normally require passing a physical fitness test. The physical agility or physical fitness test ensures that candidates are fit and can endure the physical demands of police work. Departments vary in their specific requirements.
Kansas Police Job Outlook
In Kansas, there is a stable job outlook for anyone looking for a career in law enforcement. Long-term projections for the period between 2014 to 2024 shows a growth of 4.2 percent.7Two Hundred and twenty annual job openings are forecast in this field.7
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly wage for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Kansas is $45,390 with an average hourly income of $21.82, which is below the national average.8
Police Departments in Kansas
People hoping to get into a law enforcement career in Kansas have several opportunities with 105 counties, over 600 cities and state agencies from which to choose. Most of Kansas consists of rural communities, but there are some larger cities and towns. Police agencies vary in size and requirements.
Wichita Police Department
Wichita is the most populous city in Kansas. The Wichita Police Department has over 630 commissioned officers.9 This department has plenty of prospects for police officers. There are opportunities to serve in the community-policing unit, explosive ordnance unit, S.W.A.T. unit, gang unit, investigations and other specialty assignments.
The Wichita Police Department has the following requirements for applicants:1
- Be at least 21-years-old by the first day of the academy
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Must be a high school graduate or have G.E.D.
- Possess a valid Kansas driver’s license
- Live within the Wichita city limits or within a driving time of 30 minutes from the city limits
- If having prior military service, must be honorably discharged
- Meet all the minimum requirements of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act
- Have no felony convictions, including as a juvenile
- No misdemeanor convictions for drugs, weapons charges, violence, threats or physical force in the past five years. Nor any misdemeanor property crimes in the past three years
- Must not have used, bought or possessed marijuana, any other illegal drug or non-prescription steroid in the past three years
- No prior use of any felony level drug or controlled substance, for example heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or ecstasy
- Have a clean driving record
- Pass a comprehensive background investigation
First, those interested must complete the online application, through the city. Then take a written test, followed by a pre-employment background check that involves completing a lengthy questionnaire. Then applicants must take the physical agility test. Physical agility test comprises a body drag and a suspect chase through an obstacle course. The test evaluates the applicant’s ability to perform the duties of a police officer.
Those passing have an oral board interview, polygraph, command interview, psychological evaluation, physical exam and a Cooper’s Run. The Chief may appoint candidates who successfully make it through the process. Wichita Police Department recruits attend a 24-week basic academy at the Wichita Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Training Academy.
County Sheriff Departments
County sheriff departments are important to enforcing laws and keeping peace in Kansas, especially in the rural parts of the state. All deputies must meet the minimum requirements of KS-CPOST. Each county may establish their own standards that go beyond the state’s minimum.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office
Johnson County is the largest county by population and area in the state. Besides the minimum requirements already specified by the state, applicants must also:2
- Have limited usage of non-prescribed drugs and none occurring recently
- Pass a pre-employment drug screen
- Have a valid driver’s license with limited traffic record
- If prior military service, have an honorable discharge
- Must be able to pass hearing and vision test, as well as have normal sense of smell
- Must have full range of motion, average or above average physical condition with weight proportionate to height
- Must pass a timed physical agility test and be able to walk, run and stand for extended periods of time
- Must be able to fluently speak, write and read the English language
- Must be responsible and have stable past employment, financial history and personal relationships
Applicants must take a Civil Service Exam, which is available to be taken online. Applicants must also turn in a comprehensive personal history questionnaire and pass a physical agility timed obstacle course. As is common with police jobs, there is a polygraph exam, thorough background investigation, interviews, psychological evaluation and physical exam.
Kansas Highway Patrol
There are a couple of paths when applying with the Kansas Highway Patrol for a law enforcement career. One can become a state trooper or a Capitol Police Officer. All applicants to the Kansas Highway Patrol must submit a State Tax Clearance Certificate.
Kansas State Trooper
Kansas State Troopers enforce traffic laws, enforce impaired driving laws, investigate accidents, assist motorists and provide assistance to other law enforcement agencies. Troopers have several opportunities for special assignments and special details.
The state’s highway patrol has statewide authority, and requires recruits to be able to relocate to any location within the state. The qualifications for Kansas State Troopers are:5
- Be a United States Citizen
- Be at least 21-years-old at start of training
- Have a high school diploma or G.E.D.
- Have no convictions of any crime that is punishable by incarceration in a state or federal prison
- Be in good physical and mental condition
- Must meet department vision and hearing standards
- Have a valid driver’ s license with a clear driving record
Any tattoo, scarification or brand that is visible while wearing a short-sleeved, V-neck shirt is an automatic disqualifier. Applicants must successfully pass a written test, physical agility assessment, polygraph test, a thorough background investigation and a psychological evaluation. Prospective employees are also subject to drug testing. Candidates who receive a final job offer go through a 23-week course at the Kansas Highway Patrol Training Academy in Salina.
Capitol Police Officer
Capitol Police Officers, or Law Enforcement Officer I, serves the state’s capitol in Topeka, Kansas.4 They are certified law enforcement officers who patrol and provide security at the capitol building, governor’s residence, Kansas Judicial Center and other buildings at the Capitol Complex. They also enforce traffic laws, investigate accidents and investigate crimes on and around state property in Shawnee County. Applicants must meet the basic KS-CPOST requirements and4
- Have never been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment in a federal or state prison
- Be in good physical condition with weight proportionate to height
- Pass a vision and hearing test
- Have a valid Kansas driver’s license
Applicants must pass an oral board, background investigation, polygraph test and medical evaluation.
Kansas Police Academies
In Kansas, law enforcement officers must pass a basic training course that is 14 weeks long. The Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) is the central law enforcement training in the state, and directly trains most of the city, county and state police officers in the state.6 There are also eight authorized and certified academy programs conducted through local agencies and the Kansas Highway patrol.
The KLETC is located at a site of a former United States Naval Air Station in Reno County. It operates through the University of Kansas Continuing Education and University Outreach.6 Only recruits hired by law enforcement agencies are allowed to attend the academy. Kansas does not allow those wanting to become police officers to self-sponsor themselves to the academy. In order to attend one must first hired by a recognized law enforcement agency.
- City of Wichita, Kansas, Wichita Police Department, Police Recruit:http://www.wichita.gov/Government/Departments/WPD/Pages/Recruitment.aspx
- Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Sheriff Minimum Requirements: http://www.jocosheriff.org/index.aspx?page=254
- Kansas Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training: http://www.kscpost.org/index.php
- Kansas Highway Patrol, Capitol Police Officer: http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/263/Capitol-Police-Officer
- Kansas Highway Patrol, Trooper Qualifications, Hiring Process & Training: http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/288/Qualifications-Hiring-Process-Training
- Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center: www.kletc.org
- Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Kansas:http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ks.htm
- Wichita Police Department Personnel Summary:http://www.wichita.gov/Government/Departments/WPD/PoliceDocuments/WPD%20STAFF%20Personnel%20Summary.pdf