General Information On How To Become A Law Enforcement Officer
The following information outlines the process by which a candidate may become licensed as a law enforcement officer in the state of Michigan.
Licensing as a law enforcement officer in Michigan must be approved through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). This happens when the following two requirements are met by the candidate: (1) compliance with MCOLES minimum selection standards which includes satisfactory completion of a basic police academy or recognition of prior training and experience, and (2) employment with a law enforcement agency as a law enforcement officer. Previously licensed police officers in Michigan, or from another state, who are seeking re-licensure are directed to the MCOLES Recognition of Prior Training and Experience (RPTE) Program.
The MCOLES minimum selection requirements are outlined in a document entitled Employment Standards for Michigan Law Enforcement Officers. As you formulate your plans to become a licensed police officer, please note that candidates are required to take two pre-enrollment tests, unless you have been previously licensed here or in another state. The tests consist of a reading and writing examination and a physical fitness performance examination. The tests are administered periodically at selected sites throughout the state. Typically, the starting point for most is to take the reading and writing examination because it never expires. The physical fitness exam is valid for 180 days prior to entering an academy. To schedule a test, contact the testing site directly. Previously licensed officers are not required to take these tests.
Basic recruit training, which is the major component of the pre-employment standards, must be completed at an approved training academy. Regional training academies are located throughout the state. All training academies are required to teach, as a minimum, the state's basic training curriculum, which is 594 hours in length. At the completion of the academy, all graduates are required to pass a licensing examination administered by the state.
There are three ways to enter a basic training academy:
Option 1: Become employed by a law enforcement agency and attend basic training as an employed candidate;
Option 2: Enter directly into a regional academy prior to being hired; or
Option 3: Enter a 2-year or 4-year "track" program at an approved school.
Option 1: Approximately 50% of the candidates make application directly to a law enforcement agency. Upon being hired, the agency will assume the cost of training as well as the candidate's wage while in attendance at the academy. It should be pointed out that all pre-enrollment standards must be met by the employed candidate prior to the start of the academy session.
Option 2: Due to budgetary considerations, many law enforcement agencies will consider only those applicants that have already completed the academy training. In Michigan, a candidate may attend a police academy without being employed by an agency if he or she is willing to pay for the training. It is important to note that these "pre-service" candidates are required to obtain employment with a law enforcement agency as a law enforcement officer within one (1) year of graduation in order to be licensed, although one additional year of eligibility may be obtained by satisfactorily completing the RPTE Program. If you wish to pay for your academy training, please contact the academy directly for application information.
Pre-service candidates will attend an academy that lasts between fourteen (14) and sixteen (16) weeks. However, in order to be accepted, such candidates must possess an Associate's Degree or higher degree. If you do not possess a degree, consider Option 3.
Option 3: The pre-service "track" option, is specifically designed for those candidates who do not possess a college degree, but wish to pay for their own academy training. In these track programs, academic classes are offered during the first year and the MCOLES 594-hour curriculum is offered the second year. Some locations even offer a 4-year degree program. In other words, the track option combines the mandatory academy training with a traditional degree program in criminal justice.
Once all of the pre-enrollment standards have been met, including basic training, a candidate's license may be activated through MCOLES by being sworn in as a law enforcement officer with a law enforcement agency.
This information is intended to provide you with some insight into the process of becoming a law enforcement officer in the state of Michigan. For further specific information regarding any of the options above, please contact the training academy of your choice directly; general questions, contact MCOLES at 517-636-7864.