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The Selection Process

The following outline is designed to address the key areas of the selection process that allows agencies to both screen in and screen out the qualities and attributes required for the law enforcement officer position. It is important to note that the quality of this process depends on an agency's prior planning, preparation, and commitment to the overall process. The following are the recommended selection components for hiring a law enforcement officer.

Please note that the actual hiring process can vary, and not all agencies follow these specific steps in this precise order. For details and timeline on the selection process of an Ohio law enforcement agency, please reach out to their office for more details.

1. Establish Entry Level Criteria

During this step, agencies will identify the knowledge, skills, abilities, behavior, and traits desired for the job previously determined by a job task analysis.

job task analysis for the position of entry-level law enforcement officer will consist of surveys and focus groups looking at critical job activities, how often they perform certain tasks, and the frequency and types of equipment used in practice. The overall purpose of a job task analysis is to define practice for officers in terms of actual job tasks that new officers must be able to perform safely and competently.

Examples of statewide peace officer job task analysis:

2. Job Announcement

The public advertisement of the law enforcement job, which includes the job description, qualifications, and the complete hiring process with timeline. Some basic fundamentals of a job announcement will include:

  • Summary of the job, expectations and any other important information;
  • Agency contact information or contact information for designated staff responsible for recruitment;
  • Background on the agency and its work culture/community;
  • Required experience for the specific position; and
  • Minimum education requirements or specialized education/training requirements.

3. Recruitment

The intentional process of seeking qualified law enforcement candidates that match the traits and attributes that contribute to job effectiveness already predetermined by the individual agencies. Techniques for law enforcement agencies can include developing a marketing plan and advertisement goals during the recruitment process.

  • Marketing is the message that your agency gives to the public. Recruitment marketing is the process of attracting and nurturing talented and qualified individuals to your agency by specifically marketing to them.
  • Advertising is the message about your agency that the public is receiving. For example, advertising includes the placement of an ad in such mediums like newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and online.

Some agencies may designate recruitment officers who specifically work within the community making contacts and identifying potential candidates. You may find them at career fairs, colleges and universities, or at other local community events. This is an opportunity for potential candidates to make contact and learn more about the hiring process and expectations of the officer position. Other methods of recruitment may include varying types of explorers or D.A.R.E. programming for school-aged students. This type of programming will introduce youth to the law enforcement field with varying levels of engagement that is age appropriate for the intended target audience.

4. Written Exam

There is no universal police exam that applies to the entire state. Each city will likely have its own exam, but there are two tests that are common in Ohio.

  1. The Ohio Law Enforcement Selection Inventory (OH-SELECT) was designed by IO Solutions to select law enforcement officer in Ohio. This exam consists of 185 multiple-choice questions or rating scales. There are two parts to the exam.
    • The first part of the exam assesses your cognitive abilities required for the job. It consists of 60 multiple choice questions and 12 sections.
    • The second part of the exam assesses various attitudes and personality characteristics. It contains 125 statements on a rating scale.

    Candidates will be allowed 2 hours to complete both sections of the OH-SELECT exam.

  2. The US Frontline National Practice Test is a video-based testing system that assesses critical skills necessary to be a law enforcement officer. Tutorials for this test include the following:
    • Understanding law enforcement hiring;
    • Best practices: Job Search, Application, Resume;
    • Preparing for your physical abilities test;
    • Strategies for maximizing your written test score;
    • Reading comprehension - Multiple choice;
    • Writing skills - Clarity, grammar, spelling and vocabulary;
    • Writing skills - Incident report writing; and
    • Situational judgement testing.

    For specific tests used by Ohio law enforcement agencies, please contact their office.

5. Physical Fitness Testing

It is important for law enforcement agencies that their officers develop and maintain a level of fitness that will enable them to carry out their tasks while minimizing the risk of injury or illness. Consequently, an agency will measure the level of fitness of its officer candidates to determine if they can perform essential job functions. Physical fitness required at the start and at the end of peace officer training include the following:

MALES (>29)         FEMALES (>29)      
Situps (1 min.) 32   40   Situps (1 min.) 23   35
Pushups (1 min.) 19   33   Pushups (1 min.) 9   18
1.5-mile run 14:34   11:58   1.5-mile run 17:49   14:07


MALES (30-39)         FEMALES (30-39)      
Situps (1 min.) 28   36   Situps (1 min.) 18   27
Pushups (1 min.) 15   27   Pushups (1 min.) 7   14
1.5-mile run 15:13   12:25   1.5-mile run 18:37   14:34


MALES (40-49)         FEMALES (40-49)      
Situps (1 min.) 22   31   Situps (1 min.) 13   22
Pushups (1 min.) 10   21   Pushups (1 min.) 5   11
1.5-mile run 15:58   13:11   1.5-mile run 19:32   15:24


MALES (50-59)         FEMALES (50-59)      
Situps (1 min.) 17   26   Situps (1 min.) 7   17
Pushups (1 min.) 7   15   Pushups (1 min.) 4*   13*
1.5-mile run 17:38   14:16   1.5-mile run 21:31   17:13


MALES (60+)         FEMALES (60+)      
Situps (1 min.) 13   20   Situps (1 min.) 2   8
Pushups (1 min.) 5   15   Pushups (1 min.) 1*   8*
1.5-mile run 20:12   15:56   1.5-mile run 23:32   18:52


For more information, call the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission at 740-845-2700 and ask to speak with a certification officer.

6. Oral Interview

An oral interview is utilized to establish whether the candidate possesses the criteria established for the law enforcement officer job. It will additionally evaluate the candidates' oral communication skills. Depending on the agency and the order in which they conduct their selection process, oral interviews may include follow-up questions related to the background check and/or polygraph examination. A board or more than one staff member within the agency may interview you during this process.

7. Personal History Questionnaire

These questions will provide a profile of the candidate to assist in the thorough and complete background investigation of the candidate. This information will assist in determining suitability for the law enforcement job.

8. Background Investigation

The investigation of the candidate's background will obtain information relating to the candidates suitability or lack of suitability for law enforcement employment relative to their behavioral history and character. For more information about the background investigation, please reach out to the agency in which you intend to apply.

9. Polygraph Examination

This is a scientific investigative analysis instrument utilized to determine the truthfulness of information provided in the application process or background investigation. The use of this tool may assist in the discovery of pertinent information not reported in the application process.

Please note that not all Ohio law enforcement agencies utilize a polygraph exam or may use a polygraph exam in combination with other deception detection techniques.

10. Entry Level Assessment Center

Although relatively new in the selection of entry-level officers, the Entry level Assessment Center has been used for many years as a tool for promoting officers to management positions. This method is better known for its use as a management tool for promotion to management position. The assessment center is a standardized testing process that evaluates the ability of a candidate to perform specific job-related skills and behaviors. The assessment center has five essential elements, and they are:

  • Multiple assessment scenarios;
  • Multiple trained assessors;
  • Valid simulation exercises;
  • Measureable performance and behavioral dimensions, and
  • Ratings based on compiled performance scores.

11. Conditional Offer of Employment

A conditional offer of employment is issued when a prospective agency decides that a candidate meets the minimum qualification to be a law enforcement officer. This conditional offer is dependent on the prospective candidate passing the next steps of the selection process.

12. Post-Polygraph Examination

A step rarely used in the selection process, however it is useful to screen for any questionable areas following the medical-related testing portion. These components are the psychological and medical screening processes. A law enforcement agency may have medical questions they want to clear up with the applicant. Medical-related inquiries can only be made after a conditional job offer in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

13. Psychological Examination

The psychological exam is utilized to help identify candidates who are mentally and emotionally suited for the job based on the position qualifications, tasks and environment. This method will also be used to identify candidates not mentally and emotionally suited for law enforcement work.

14. Medical Examination

This will help determine the overall health status of a candidate, and whether they are able to perform essential job functions. It will also help identify any pre-existing medical conditions which may be aggravated during basic training academy or on the job.

15. Final Job Offer

Once a law enforcement agency determines requirements are met for the position, an applicant will receive a formal written job offer. This may occur after a call from the agency informing them that they have been selected. It's important that the applicant reviews all, if any, additional requirements or contingencies required for the position.

16. Basic Academy Training

All candidates seeking to become a law enforcement officer are required to successfully complete the Basic Training Academy. The training academy will provide instruction on the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform basic functions of a law enforcement officer.

The Academy requires that applicants successfully complete the following in order to qualify:

  • Background check;
  • Physical fitness test; and
  • Drug screening.

To be eligible to become certified, applicants must pass the following:

  • Physical fitness test;
  • Skill assessments; and
  • Written examination.

The curriculum requires a minimum of 737 hours of training.

"Closed" and "Open Enrollment" Academies

Some basic training academies are "closed", meaning that recruits are required to be appointed by a law enforcement agency. Recruits will become peace officers for a specific department upon gaining certification. Some of these academies charge no fees and some law enforcement agencies will even pay the recruits salary during training.

Other academies have "open enrollment", meaning that anyone who meets the qualifications can join the academy before employment with a law enforcement agency. These type of academies set their own fees. Anyone interested in this type of academy should talk to a specific academy about the training and potential financial aid.

View directory of the peace officer basic training academies

17. Post-Academy Training

This will provide an orientation for officers who recently graduated from the Basic Training Academy on the job environment and community.

18. Field Training Officer Program

New officers will ride with multiple field-training officers over the course of several months to learn how to practically apply basic training knowledge on the job. This will also help the agency evaluate the new officer's ability to perform all essential job functions and job-related tasks.