Mississippi Police Officers
When joining a police department in the state of Mississippi, one is essentially joining a family. The state is made up of close-knit communities and their agencies have a reputation for fairness and active involvement. For example, many departments take part in National Night Out, locally host rodeos and fairs, and Shop with a Cop every holiday season.
Policies and procedures may differ slightly between departments in the state of Mississippi, however, the basic requirements are mandated state-wide. The minimum requirements are that you have to: have a high school diploma, have good moral character, be a citizen of the United States, be at least 21 years of age, have no felony or domestic violence charges, pass a federal background check, have a valid driver’s license, and reside in the area that the officer will be serving.
Tests – Written, Physical, and Communication
The next step in the process of being hired by the State of Mississipi is the passing of the civil service exam. There is test prep available online, but veteran officers are also willing to assist potential candidates earn a passing grade on the exam. The primary purpose of the review is to determine one’s understanding in reading, writing, comprehension, and logic.
The physical exam may vary by department. PT is not an overall policy and procedure. For example, Jackson Police Department, the largest in the state of Mississippi, requires pushups, sit-ups, and a short distance run as a test of agility. Other departments may have longer run challenges, weight tests, and agility testing.
If the candidate has passed the written and physical tests, they are then put in front of a panel of officers in the next step. The panel interview is to test communication skills and the ability to think on one’s feet. In some counties or towns, this could be the police chief, mayor, and/or alderperson instead of fellow police officers.
The background check that goes into being a police officer is far more stringent than any other job, with good reason. This examination of one’s life includes talking to family, friends, neighbors, ex-coworkers, and even former bosses.
Investigators from the department that is being applied to conduct these extensive background checks. They will leave no stone unturned and they will go back as far as they feel is necessary to get a sense of the candidate. The paper portion of the check can include transcripts, court documents from civil and legal cases, and driver history. If someone obtained a traffic ticket, even a decade prior, the department would know.
As to further ensure moral character, most agencies will request a polygraph test. The questions may range from drug use as a teenager to possible prior thefts. Work ethic may also be a topic that gets probed. The type of questions will try to suss out if one has taken advantage of prior employers.
Health – Mental and Physical
Once a prospect has passed all of these test, then comes the mental and physical wellness exams. The psychological exams are given by a licensed psychiatrist chosen by the department. Stress tests are taken and evaluated by professionals. This in-depth evaluation is to ensure that the level of stress that one bears on the street is not too much for the potential officer.
A thorough physical will then occur. This examination may include heart stress tests, blood tests, hair follicle testing, and any other form of tests seen fit by the department and the department’s healthcare provider. The overview of a candidate’s physical health also includes hearing and eye tests. These tests are both for the officer and public safety.
Time for Training
Only after these steps are completed does a candidate become vetted and allowed to enter the academy. Most departments will pay partial salary to candidates during their police academy training. Departments may also offer candidates: cars, equipment, and uniforms. By investing in a candidate, the department is investing in their community’s public safety.
In Mississippi, police academies lasts 12-14 weeks, typically running Monday through Friday. There may be dorms for candidates and leave which is only allowed on weekends. The strict curriculum consists of firearms training, self-defense methods, first aid training, defensive and offensive driving, and even courses about mental illness and domestic violence. Police academies are designed to make the well-rounded patrol officer that will excel in their roles.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) indicates that average Mississippi law enforcement salaries are $55,140 for supervisors and detectives, $56,570 for criminal investigators, and $33,350 for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. These salaries are dependent on where an officer works, the size of the county, and the rate of promotion. Most departments also offer a supplement to their income if the officer also holds one or more degrees.
Between the Mississippi Highway Patrol, County Sheriff Departments, Municipal Departments, and Mississippi Department of Transportation, there is room to grow and evolve. Participating, and not just patrolling, in a community is a major factor in how high one can go up the promotion ladder.