How to Become a Police Officer in Wyoming
The United States’ least populated state is Wyoming, yet Wyoming is the country’s 10th largest by area. Its wide-open country and beautiful landscape make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. National Forests and National Parks cover much of the land. Police officers in Wyoming get to experience a variety of daily challenges and face the everyday demands of working in law enforcement.
Police officers get to serve their communities, while feeling the excitement of law enforcement. They must withstand working overtime, shift-work and working on holidays. Those who want to enter the field of police work face a rigorous process.
Wyoming Police Officer Requirements
The Wyoming Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (P.O.S.T.) sets the minimum standards for law enforcement officers within the state. In Wyoming, the minimum requirements are:
- Be a United States citizen
- Be at least 18-years-old
- Not have any felony convictions
- Pass a complete background check
- Pass psychological and medical evaluations
Police Officer Testing in Wyoming
Passing a written exam is one of the first parts in the process of becoming a police officer. In Wyoming, the P.O.S.T. commission administers an Entry Level Test for pre-employment. P.O.S.T. makes the list of successful candidates available to law enforcement agencies in the state requesting it. The entry-level police officer exam covers basic skills, reading comprehension, arithmetic, spelling, grammar, writing and punctuation.10
All police officer applicants must take and pass the physical agility examination. Physical fitness is measured through push-ups, sit-ups and timed running.
Police agencies seek candidates that are of good moral character and require prospective officers to pass a background check and meet specified criteria regarding previous drug use.
Wyoming Police Job Outlook
The average hourly pay for police and sheriff officers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $25.76. The annual average pay of police and sheriff officers is $53,590.6
The job outlook for police officers in Wyoming shows a projection of an average of 40 annual job openings. The long-term growth of law enforcement jobs is stable with an expected long-term growth of 2.8 percent between 2014 and 2024.5
Police Departments in Wyoming
Wyoming has law enforcement opportunities in city, county and in state agencies. Since the state of Wyoming has a small population, its cities are small with relatively small police departments. The largest city is Cheyenne.
Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming, and it has a population of 60,000 people.1 The Cheyenne Police Department has 100 sworn officers who protect their community, work to prevent crime, make arrests, write reports and preform traffic control duties. The department prides itself on having innovative programs to serve the community and a variety of specialty assignments for officers.
The hiring process consists of a written exam, fitness test and oral board interview .The written test and oral board scores are combined and averaged, and then any preference points are added to determine ranking on the registry. Then applicants face the background investigation, Chief’s interview, polygraph, psychological evaluation, medical evaluation and drug screen.
Cheyenne’s police officer requirements are:
- Be a United States Citizen
- Possess a high school diploma or G.E.D.
- Be 21-years-old on date of hire
- Have no felony or domestic violence convictions
- If prior military service, be honorably discharged
- Clean driving record with no suspensions within past three years
- No DUI convictions
- Meet the departments criteria regarding previous drug use2
The annual entry-level salary for the Cheyenne Police Department starts at $50,009. There are overtime opportunities, paid vacation, retirement plan, a take-home vehicle program, medical benefits and dental coverage. Cheyenne also has lots opportunities for specialty assignments for officers, which bring specialty pay. Alcohol enforcement, bicycle unit, gang enforcement, honor guard, crisis negotiation, investigations, K-9, motorcycle unit, school resource and S.W.A.T. are just some of the opportunities available.
County Sheriff Departments
Wyoming has 23 counties, with each county having deputies that patrol the state’s large territory. The individual counties set their own hiring standards, but all deputies must meet P.O.S.T. requirements to be certified.
Natrona County Sheriff’s Office
Natrona County, Wyoming contains the state’s second largest city, Casper. The Natrona County Sheriff’s office looks for service-oriented individuals to serve the citizens of the county. It is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state with a coverage area of 5,500 square miles. The department serves approximately 65,000 people.3
Entry-level deputy sheriff requirements:4
- Be at least 21-years-old
- Be a United States citizen
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Be a high school graduate or possess a G.E.D.
- Have not used marijuana within the past two years
- No other illegal drug use within the prior five years
- Be legally qualified to possess a firearm
- Have no felony convictions.
- Any misdemeanor convictions are subject to review to determine suitability
- Have good moral character
Newly hired deputies must sign a pre-service agreement contract pledging a two-year commitment upon completing training. Recruits start by working in the detention center as a detention officer.4
Wyoming Highway Patrol
The Wyoming Highway Patrol enforces highway traffic laws and ensures safety on highways. Due to the rural character of much of the state, troopers routinely work spread out from cities or towns and frequently don’t have readily available assistance from other officers.
The state of Wyoming has the following minimum requirements to become a state trooper:8
- Must be 22-years-old by hire date
- Must have a high school diploma or G.E.D
- Have two years of experience working with the public
- Be a United States citizen
- Pass all required entry-level examinations
- Pass a background investigation, including criminal history check
- Must not have had any driver’s license revocation, denial or disqualification within the prior three years.
- Must pass vision test, candidate must wear soft contact lenses if vision correction is required. No wearing of glasses or hard contact lenses.
Prospective troopers must pass a written test administered by P.O.S.T. The test has four sections: written skills, math, reading comprehension and a section covering grammar, punctuation and spelling.8 In order to move along in the testing process, candidates must have a score of 70 percent or higher.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol must pass the Wyoming Physical Abilities Test (WYPAT). The timed section of the WYPAT must be completed in 6:17 or less. Additionally the Cooper Standards Test must be finished at the 40th percentile or higher.7
Successful applicants will then proceed to an oral board interview. Those who continue through the process get a conditional job offer, psychological evaluation and polygraph exam. Candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation. Those who successfully pass all phases and pass the background investigation may receive a final employment offer.
Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers attend the Wyoming Law Enforcement Basic Academy for 13 weeks, followed by the 14-week Wyoming Highway Patrol basic recruit academy. The state of Wyoming pays the training costs and full salaries during the training academy period.
Starting pay for a trooper is $3,556 per month, with increases as the trooper moves up. Troopers also are paid shift differential for working night hours and on weekends. There is also overtime pay and holiday pay.
Wyoming Police Academies
The only law enforcement academy in the state is the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, which is located in Douglas, Wyoming.11 The academy is tasked with training the peace officers in the state, as well as detention officers, communications officers, coroners and deputy coroners. Recruits hired by law enforcement agencies are sent to this facility for basic training.
Citizens, wishing to become police officers, may self-sponsor themselves to attend the Pre-Service Program at the basic academy.11 Applicants must meet the minimum P.O.S.T. police officer requirements. Anyone attending the academy must go through an extensive background check and a pre-entrance test. There is a fitness test, written exam and psychological evaluation for admittance to the program.
Basic police officer training is 14 weeks. In the state of Wyoming, all peace officers must complete the training within their first year of being employed.12 Training will teach the recruits Wyoming criminal law and constitutional procedures, ethical considerations, courtroom testifying, interpersonal communications, stress management, investigations, crime scene management, interview techniques, use of force, report writing, physical control skills, emergency vehicle operations and firearms.12
- Cheyenne Police Department, Hiring Process: http://www.cheyennepd.org/index.aspx?nid=114
- Cheyenne Police Department, Job Requirements: http://www.cheyennepd.org/index.aspx?NID=162
- Natrona County, Sheriff: http://www.natrona.net/index.aspx?NID=118
- Natrona County, Sheriff Employment: http://www.natrona.net/index.aspx?NID=123
- 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 Wyoming: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wy.htm#33-0000
- WHP, Physical Agility: http://www.whp.dot.state.wy.us/home/trooper–careersrecruiting/physical-agility.html
- WHP Highway Patrol, POST Testing: http://www.whp.dot.state.wy.us/home/trooper–careersrecruiting/post-testing.html
- WHP, Requirements: http://www.whp.dot.state.wy.us/home/trooper–careersrecruiting/requirements.html
- Wyoming Attorney General, Peace Officer Standards and Training: http://ag.wyo.gov/post-home-page
- Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, Overview: http://www.wleacademy.com/wp/basic-programs/overview/
- Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, Police Officer Basic: http://wleacademy.com/wp2/peace-officer-basic/