How to Become a Reserve Police Officer

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Whether you're looking to get your foot in the door at a law enforcement agency, or just looking for a part-time job that offers all the excitement of "chasing down the bad guys," becoming a reserve police officer is a great choice. Here's some great information on how to become a reserve police officer.

Compile a list of agencies you would like to work for as a reserve police officer.To find agencies in your area, visit for a complete list of agencies, look in the phone book, or search your city and county along with the term "police department" or "law enforcement."Consider the area each agency covers and the main type of work they do. A highway patrol officer, for example, will typically be responding to a different type of call than an inner-city police officer for example. Decide what type of law enforcement work you are most interested in, and then narrow your list to those agencies. In general, highway patrol, or state police, cover the highways and freeways and deal mainly with traffic enforcement and apprehension of drug traffickers. Sheriff's departments cover unincorporated areas outside of city and town limits. Although they often deal with the same type of criminal complaints as city police officers, they often must work more independently in remote areas. City police officers are what most people think of when they of officers. They work patrols within city limits and spend much of their time responding to calls for service.

Contact law enforcement agencies.Using the list you created in Step 1, contact the law enforcement agencies and find out whether or not they offer a reserve police officer program, or any similar programs. For the agencies that respond positively, ask for information on how to apply. Remember, it's always important to be polite and professional, even when you're only gathering information. Also ask where you can learn the requirements for the job. Some agencies require all of their officers, even reserve officers to have a college education or law enforcement training. Others provide training. It's important to find out the exact requirements so you know whether or not you're eligible for the job before you apply. Most agencies don't have time to give all of this information out over the phone, so ask where you can obtain the information, for example, is it available online, or can you stop by the department and pickup an information sheet?

Fill out the application thoroughly and honestly.Once you've obtained applications from the agencies you've contacted, begin filling out the applications. Most reserve police officer applications require a significant amount of background information. Be sure to fill it out as completely as possible. Leaving out a job you only stayed at for two weeks because you're embarrassed about the short amount of time can disqualify you from consideration. Be sure to include everything the application asks for.Honesty is equally important in filling out a reserve police officer application. If you made a few mistakes when you were younger, be honest and upfront about it. Most law enforcement agencies will not disqualify you for misdemeanor crimes that are more than five years old, but they will disqualify you if they find out you lied about it. Be completely honest on your application and ready with an honest explanation of the circumstances.

Prepare for the physical fitness test.Once you've applied, or even before you apply, start conditioning yourself to pass the department's physical fitness test. You can learn the requirements by contacting the department's personnel department. Most likely, you will only have one to two weeks notice of the test, and it is typically one of the first stages of the hiring process, so you will want to prepare for the physical fitness test ahead of time.Running a mile a day, stretching, doing sit-ups and push-ups are a great way to prepare for the physical fitness test for a reserve police officer. Most test consist of running a mile within a certain amount of time, and doing a particular number of sit-ups and push-ups within an allotted time.

Study for your interview.This is usually one of the last steps in the hiring process for a reserve police officer. Most agencies conduct an oral board interview in which three or more officers or supervisors interview the final applicants. Check out some books on law enforcement, ask the personnel department for any study materials, or contact your local community college for assistance. is a site built for police officers that offers not only great advice on becoming an officer, but is also visited by hundreds of officers. This site is a perfect place to visit in preparation for your interview. "Master the Police Officer Exam" by Neil Steinberg and "Becoming a Police Officer: An Insider's Guide to a Career in Law Enforcement" by Barry M. Baker are two good books to study in preparation for your oral exam.Also, prepare yourself to answer some tough questions. Many oral board interviews will include questions about your background and about how you have handled difficult situations in the past. If you have anything in your past that you are uncomfortable about, think through how you will handle it when you are asked about it. You want to give an honest answer, but also one that presents you in the most positive light possible.You can expect the hiring process to take several weeks to several months. Be patient, and don't be surprised if you end up on a waiting list for a position. This is common, but fortunately officers are always needed, and it shouldn't be too long before your job as a reserve police officer begins.


Be confident, professional and ready to learn. Understand that you are making a long-term commitment to an agency if you accept a position as a reserve police officer, since they are likely to spend several thousand dollars on your training.


Don't lie about or hide anything on your application. This almost always results in immediate disqualification.