How to Become a Police Officer in North Dakota
North Dakota is the most rural state in the union. Farms cover much of the land. There are also several national parks, state parks and recreational areas. Police officers in North Dakota can have a rewarding and exciting career.
The job outlook for police and sheriff patrol officers in North Dakota is promising with a predicted growth of 11.3 percent through 2024. There are 60 annual job openings projected in this field.8
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and sheriff patrol officers in North Dakota earn an average annual salary of $51,610 and an average of $24.81 per hour.9
North Dakota Police Officer Requirements
The North Dakota Police Officers Standards and Training board (POST) establishes the requirements for law enforcement officers in the state. Each police agency must have officers that meet minimum standards set by the board. Of course, agencies may set their own standards that are higher than the minimum that are required by the state. In North Dakota officers must:7
- Be a United States citizen or have resident alien status according to Immigration and Naturalization Service laws
- Have a high school diploma or a G.E.D.
- Not have any convictions in state or federal court for any felony, domestic violence crime, moral turpitude or any other crime that could affect the ability to serve as a peace officer
- Be able to legally possess a firearm under federal and state law
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Pass medical and psychological evaluations
- Pass a complete background investigation and submit fingerprints for federal and state criminal record checks
Applicants must go through a series of tests. The testing process ensures that departments pick the most qualified candidates. These include a written test, physical agility test, psychological exam, background investigation and medical evaluation. A POST approved psychologist must carry out the psychological evaluation. Police Officers must meet high standards: mentally, physically and in integrity.
Law Enforcement Jobs in North Dakota
North Dakota has cities, counties and state government agencies that hire law enforcement officers. There are also university police, tribal police agencies and federal agencies that operate in the state.
There are over 60 municipal police agencies. All officers, sheriff deputies and state troopers must meet POST’s minimum standards, but other requirements can vary by department.
Fargo Police Department
Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota. One Hundred sixty-five sworn officers serve the growing populatation.2 TheFargo Police Department strives to keep a positive partnership between the community and the department.
The department has such special assignments as school resource officer, community trust officer, cultural liaison, K9 and GLBT liaison. Anyone wishing to become an officer with the Fargo Police department must:
- Be a united States citizen or legal resident alien
- Be at least 21-years-old
- Have vision correctable to 20/20
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Have completed 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits from an accredited college or university
- Be honorably discharged if having military service
- Have no visible tattoos
Some items will automatically disqualify a candidate. Any adult conviction of any felony or class A misdemeanor with in the past three years or of any class B misdemeanor within the past year will also disqualify an applicant. Any domestic violence conviction is prohibited. No prospective employee may have any adult conviction for unlawful possession, sale, delivery or manufacture of any controlled substance. Unlawful use or possession of marijuana within the past year is not allowed. A conviction within two years of impaired driving a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license will result in ineligibility.
A written exam is required, which consists of the National Police Select Test, a personal history questionnaire and a personal inventory form. If the written test is passed with a 70 percent or higher, an oral interview is next. It is behavioral based and the applicant’s communication skills and judgement are assessed. The administrative sergeant reviews the results of the personal history questionnaire and inventory. Those who make it through the screening will go through a background investigation, and then can move on the chief’s interview. The chief may issue a conditional offer of employment. Applicants at that point must pass the physical fitness test, polygraph, psychological and medical exams.
Fargo police officers start at $50,024 per year with yearly step increases. They get longevity pay after 10 years. They get health insurance, dental insurance and are eligible for a pension plan. They also get annual leave, sick leave and holiday pay.
There are 53 counties in North Dakota, which are serviced by local sheriff departments. County sheriff deputies are responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing laws in the unincorporated areas of the state. Individual sheriff’s departments have different criteria for entry-level deputies. All must meet the state’s minimum POST requirements. One should check individual department’s websites for their requirements.
Several sheriff offices participate in Dakota Territories Sheriff’s Association Testing System.3 This system assists candidates for corrections officer and deputy sheriff entry level positions find jobs and testing information, as well as help sheriff’s departments find the most qualified candidates. Applicants can create a profile through the system that will be automatically available to participating sheriff’s offices for which they are qualified, and their written test score will be available to each.
Cass County is the largest county in North Dakota. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has 104 full time, certified law enforcement officers.1
Cass County applicants must got to the Dakota Territories Sheriff’s Association Testing System, complete a profile and take the required written test in order to complete the candidate process. Candidates must meet the minimum POST standards, be at least 21-years-old, pass a physical agility test, pass a psychological exam and have a valid driver’s license. Having a bachelor’s degree is preferred, and candidates must have strong communication skills
North Dakota Highway Patrol
The North Dakota Highway Patrol ensures safety on the state’s highways, enforces traffic laws, investigates accidents and assists motorists. The highway patrol has high standards for its state troopers. In addition to the minimum requirements that POST has for law enforcement officers, troopers must:6
- Meet the education requirement of having either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree with two years of experience working with the public or two years of military service. Sixty semester credit hours may be substituted for an associates degree. The education must be through a regionally accredited college or university.
- Be a United States Citizen for at least two years
- Have vision correctable to 20/30 or better, normal color vision and normal depth perception
- Have a clean driving record and have no revocations or suspensions within the last three years
- Be in excellent physical condition with weight proportionate to height
- Be willing to work anywhere in the state and willing to work irregular hours
Candidates must like people and desire to help others. Candidates must successfully pass all phases of pre-employment screening. This includes written exams, personality inventory questionnaire, oral interview, written personality test, background investigation, medical exam, psychological interview and physical fitness test.5 New hires to the patrol must attend the Law Enforcement training Academy in Bismarck.
Police Academies in North Dakota
All new law enforcement recruits must attend a 4-month basic academy. North Dakota has two options in academies for training police officers. There is the Law Enforcement training Academy in Bismarck and Peace Officer Training Program offered through the Lake Region State College.
The Law Enforcement Training Academy in Bismarck is operated by the state. It trains many of the officers, deputies and troopers in the state.
The Peace officer Training Program operated through Lake Region State College has a certificate that can be earned in a semester.4 The certificate program’s classes are available at campuses in Devils Lake, Minot, Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks. This rigorous course satisfies the training requirements for North Dakota Peace Officers. Lake Region State College is the only POST authorized college in the state to offer an approved academy. In four semesters, one can earn an Associate in Applied Science in Law Enforcement degree.
- Cass County Sheriff’s Department:https://www.casscountynd.gov/county/depts/sheriff/Pages/default.aspx
- City of Fargo, Fargo Police Department:http://www.cityoffargo.com/CityInfo/Departments/Police/AboutFargoPolice/
- Dakota Territories Sheriff’s Association Testing: https://www.empco.net/dakota/
- Lake Region State College, Peace Officer Training & Law Enforcement:http://www.lrsc.nodak.edu/academics/programs/peace-office-training-law-enforcement
- North Dakota Highway Patrol, Employment Process: http://www.nd.gov/ndhp/about-us/employment/employment-process
- North Dakota Highway Patrol, Qualifications and Requirements: http://www.nd.gov/ndhp/about-us/employment/qualifications-and-requirements
- North Dakota Peace Officer Standards and Training: http://www.post.nd.gov
- 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 North Dakota: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nd.htm#33-0000