How to Become a Police Officer in Oregon
Police officers provide a valuable service to communities and individuals.
Although, it is dangerous and demanding work many people are attracted to this career.
Police officers must be excellent communicators, both verbally and in writing.
They need to be willing to make personal sacrifices, work shift-work, perform overtime, work on holidays and be on duty during different types of weather.
Those wishing to enter the field of police work must go through a testing process that has several steps and that can take several months to complete.
In Oregon minimum standards for law enforcement officers is governed by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and they provide training within the state.4
Oregon Police Officer Requirements
In Oregon, each agency has different hiring requirements, and anyone seeking employment should check with the specific agency in question. The state does require prospective police officers to pass an extensive background investigation and psychological evaluation. They must also prove physical fitness by passing physical abilities testing.
Several agencies in Oregon require a degree from either a two-year of four-year program. Even if a college degree is not required by a particular agency, having a degree can help a candidate have an edge, and DPSST recommends that any law enforcement hopeful in the state have a degree.5 Common degrees for those in law enforcement are in criminal justice, criminology, psychology, sociology and communications. Volunteering as a reserve officer is also suggested to get experience and understanding.
Oregon Police Officer Testing
Police officer testing has several steps that must be passed in order to move along in the process. Each department has their own order for conducting the testing steps, but usually candidates can expect a written test, physical ability test and interview. The written test covers written communication, reading comprehension and observation skills. The oral interview usually is before a panel of law enforcement members and possibly other individuals appointed to be involved in the interview process. All public safety employees in Oregon must pass a background check, psychological exam and a physical exam.
The Oregon Physical Abilities test evaluates candidates on essential physical abilities required to perform police duties. Recruits are tested during the pre-employment screening process, when gaining entry to the academy for training and tested again at graduation. The testing process includes walking, running, carrying, pulling, pushing, climbing, vaulting, jumping and lifting.6 All of these necessary tasks must be demonstrated while going through a timed obstacle course.
Oregon Police Officer Job Outlook
The long-term outlook for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Oregon shows that there will be growth over the next few years, giving those hopeful of working in this field more opportunities. Projections, through the year 2024, show that there will be a 4 percent growth with 190 average annual openings.9
The average pay for police and sheriff officers, according the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $31.68 per hour and $65,890 per year.10 Law enforcement officers get generous benefits that include medical, sick leave, paid holidays, vacation and retirement plans.
Police Departments in Oregon
Oregon has many local police and sheriff’s departments that range in size. Law enforcement careers exist with city, county, state and tribal governments.
City Police Departments
The largest city in Oregon is Portland. The Portland Police Bureau has a large department and regularly hires qualified officers. The police in Portland operate on a community policing philosophy that works cooperatively with community members and businesses. Officers must respectfully serve the members of Portland’s diverse community. The Portland Police Bureau particularly wants candidates who are effective at building interpersonal relationships with people of a variety of racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The minimum standards necessitate applicants to be 21-years-old, hold a high school diploma or G.E.D. and have at least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours from a college or university.2 The exception is if an officer is already a certified law enforcement officer or has at least two years of active military service.
The process for those seeking employment as a Portland Police Officer starts with a written exam and oral interview.1 The candidate must fill out the California Psychological Inventory and a personal history questionnaire.1 Then the physical abilities test comes next, followed by an in-depth background investigation, psychological evaluation and medical evaluation.1
County Sheriff Departments
Another option for those who want to become law enforcement officers is employment as a county sheriff’s deputy. There are 36 counties in Oregon, providing plenty of opportunities to consider. Sheriff’s deputies undertake patrol duties, are tasked with corrections and other law enforcement responsibilities.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Department is one example of county law enforcement. Lane County is in western Oregon and is home of the second largest city in the state, Eugene. The deputy sheriff vacancies in Lane County for which outside applicants may apply are in the Corrections Division.3 The Corrections Division maintains custody and surveillance of inmates. Applicants must be at least 21-years-old, a United States citizen and have a current Oregon driver’s license. The minimum education required is a high school diploma or G.E.D., with two years of college being preferred. Two years of work experience dealing with the public is required. Candidates must pass a written exam, physical abilities test, background check, interview, drug screen, psychological evaluation and tuberculosis test.3
Oregon State Police
Additional employment opportunities in Oregon law enforcement are with the Oregon State Police. State troopers work throughout the state in a variety of capacities. State troopers have many opportunities in the organization, including criminal and arson investigators, narcotics detectives, SWAT, bomb technicians, Honor Guard, K9 handlers and even aircraft pilots. Below are the minimum qualifications.7
- Be a United States citizen.
- Possess a high school diploma or G.E.D.
- Be at least 21-years-old, and there is no upper age limit
- Possess and maintain a valid driver’s license
- Be in good health and good moral character.
- Meet all applicable medical and physical requirements.
State Trooper applicants must pass an entry-level test, which includes a written test, physical abilities test and pre-psychological risk assessment.8 State troopers must undergo a thorough background investigation. The are some automatic disqualifiers for applicants, including any felony conviction under state or federal law or any misdemeanor conviction concerning sex crimes, domestic violence, fraud or moral turpitude. Among other items that can disqualify candidates are other misdemeanor convictions within the past five years, conviction of a major traffic offence or a DUI diversion within the past five years, and illegal drug use, sale, distribution or manufacture. The applicant’s driving record will be examined, with past violations and suspensions considered.
Those applicants that pass the entry level testing and background investigation are invited to a Command Interview. The interview is before a panel of majors and captains. Following this, conditional job offer may be made. A medical screening and psychological exam will follow.
The Oregon State Police wants applicants who are of “good moral” fitness.7 They look for individuals who are not involved in illegal activity, crimes of moral turpitude, fraud or deception. Trooper candidates must be honest, be fair, respect the rights of others and abide by the laws.
Police Academies in Oregon
The DPSST operates a public safety training academy in Salem, Oregon, which is home to the only police academy for law enforcement officers in the state. The agency also runs training throughout Oregon. In order to attend the academy, one must be hired by a police department, sheriff’s department, or the state police. Each newly hired police officer must attend the DPSST police academy. The academy covers scenarios, firearms, survival skills, emergency vehicle operations and defensive tactics.
- City of Portland Police Bureau, Hiring Process:https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/420445
- City of Portland Police Bureau, Minimum Requirements and Disqualifiers:https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/437580
- Lane County, Human Resources Deputy Sheriff:http://www.lanecounty.org/departments/sheriff/office/personnel/Pages/default.aspx
- Oregon.gov, Department of Public Safety Standards and Training:http://www.oregon.gov/DPSST/Pages/index.aspx
- Oregon.gov, Department of Public Safety Standards and Training How Do I Attend the Academy:http://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/Pages/Attend-the-Academy.aspx
- Oregon.gov, DPSST Academy Training Oregon Physical Abilities Test (ORPAT):http://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/AT/Pages/ORPAT.aspx
- Oregon.gov, Oregon State Police How to Become an OSP Trooper:https://www.oregon.gov/osp/RECRUIT/Pages/qualifications.aspx
- Oregon.gov, Oregon State Police How to Become an OSP Trooper Entry Level Testhttps://www.oregon.gov/osp/RECRUIT/Pages/II-Entry-Level-Test-(ELT).aspx
- 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 Oregon: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm