South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy

5400 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29212

It is the mission of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to foster and uphold prescribed laws and regulations by providing mandated basic and advanced training to law enforcement personnel…


Phone: 803-896-7777

South Carolina is a state that has beautiful landscapes and scenery, but just like most states, they also have a high amount of crime. Because every state has crime, every state including South Carolina needs good quality police officers. The true question is why do people choose to become police officers? Why do people choose to put their lives on the line every day?

Well there are several different reasons, first it is a good paying and stable job. However good pay is not a reason to risk their lives every day. People also tend to believe the false illusion that movies and television portray that police work is fun,exciting and glamorous. In reality people quickly realize that police work is often grunt work, requiring hard physical work.

However the real reason, and most common reason people become police officers is they are tired of crime and want to make a difference in their communities and neighborhoods. People are good in South Carolina and they are sick of criminals winning and they want to make a difference.

Minimum Requirements

Now in order to be considered for hire as a police officer in South Carolina, there are certain minimum requirements that must be met. First and foremost, all candidates must be a United States citizen. Now depending on the department you are applying for a candidate must be 21 years old. A potential candidate must have a high school diploma or GED. Now if an applicant has a felony conviction or dishonorable discharge from the military, those are automatic disqualifiers. Also in most cases gang membership or drug addiction will be a disqualifier. Lastly a high amount of misdemeanor offenses or drunk driving convictions will be disqualifiers.


Once a candidate meets the minimum requirements, there are certain examinations that a potential candidate must take and pass to continue on in the process. A candidate will have to take a physical fitness test, and there are certain standards they must meet in order to pass the test. Now the physical fitness test is very important, because it tells the people administering the test, whether or not the candidate can handle the very intense physical training of the academy, and also whether they can handle the very physical demanding part of the job.

The candidate will also be required to take a written examination. Now the written examination is designed to test their reading and writing skills. Remember a very important part of a police officer job is report writing, so they want to make sure they can read and write reasonably well.

All candidates also must pass a psychological test to make sure the can handle the stress of the job. Police work is very hard and draining both mentally and emotionally, so they want to make sure they are mentally strong. Police officers see and experience things that stay with them, and that is why police work is not for everybody.

Candidates will also have to pass a medical examination and drug screening. The medical examination is to see if they are medically fit enough to do the job. The drug screening is to make sure the candidate does not have any drug addictions which could put other police officers lives and innocent people lives at risk. And could compromise the integrity of the police department.

Background Investigation

Now if a potential candidate makes it this far, then they can expect a background investigation to be done on them. The investigation will include fingerprinting to check for any criminal history. In most cases the investigator will talk with family, neighbors, past employers and personal references. They want to know everything about a potential candidate to make sure there is nothing that the candidate has in his past that could be damaging to the police department. All candidates can expect a tough investigation. They will even go so far as to check a candidates credit history. Now if the candidate passes this part of the exam, then they can look forward to an oral interview, which can be very stressful and tough at times.

Police Academy

Now is when the hard work kicks in. Once a candidate goes into a police academy, the can expect to be pushed as hard as if they were going through boot camp for the military. All candidates will go through a very intense and demanding physical training program. The drill instructors will push you mentally and physically harder then most people have ever been pushed before. They know that a candidate has to be in good physical shape to have any opportunity to make the. They also know the physical training will weed out those who are not committed to the job. Better to weed out the ones in the academy then have them on the street and freeze when people need them.

Besides physical training all requirements will go through a very in depth look at state criminal codes and state traffic codes. The code book is the bible of police work and it is how police officers know what to charge suspects with. All candidates will go through training on federal codes as well. To go along with the code training, they will also be taught the proper way to write a police report. A police report is very important because when police officers arrest some-one, that report will be seen by many different people, and a poorly written report reflects badly on a police officer.

Now police recruits can also expect to go through a very hard firearms training course. As every-one knows, all police officers are required to carry a firearm. However in some cases recruits have never handled a firearm before, so range instructors will teach them marksmanship, how to clean their firearms, firearm safety, how to clear their weapon when it jams, combat shooting, low light shooting, when to shoot and when not to shoot. Recruits will spend a lot of time at the gun range.

Now to with firearms training, all recruits will go through a very hard training program to teach them the proper way of gun retention. Gun retention is very serious because when a police officer gets into a fight with a suspect, it is almost a guarantee they will try to take an officer’s gun.

Now one of the courses all recruits love is the patrol driving course. The whole point of this course is to remind officers, that they are not invincible because they are driving a police car. Just because the car has lights and sirens, does not mean people will get out of the way of a police officer. They will also,teach recruits how to drive at high speeds, and how to drive in a high speed pursuit. Usually all recruits will have to pass an obstacle course to show they can handle their patrol cars.

Now besides training on all of those courses, recruits can expect to be taught the proper way to handcuff a suspect, how to frisk a suspect in the right way, for drugs and weapons, and even how to testify in court. All of these courses are extremely important in turning a recruit into a police officer.

After a police officer graduates the academy then they go to their department, and begin their career in law enforcement.

Post Graduation

The future looks good for the growth of police officers in South Carolina. It is estimated that growth will, be about 5%, with about 370 new officers being hired a year. Police officers can expect to make about $38,000 a year, without overtime, however all good officers will get overtime because of the nature of the job. Even more important then that is that once a rookie officer gets through their field training, they can look to the future. They can start to plan to move up in rank, and they can also begin to apply for specialized units of the department. All in all, right now is the perfect time to become a police officer in the state of South Carolina.

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