There are many Minnesota colleges and universities offering Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice programs, however it is being reported that attendance has been down. In 2016, the MN POST Board claims that the supply of eligible candidates is getting closer to demand. While this makes getting a job less competitive that in years past, getting a police officer job on Minnesota law enforcement agency can still be a complex process.
Below is a breakdown of the Minnesota police officer hiring process.
Most all agencies list their job offerings somewhere on the Internet, including MinnesotaPoliceLinks.com. Large agencies typically use an online service to process their applications electronically. Many smaller agencies still request paper applications.
Depending on the agency you are applying for, you may have to first take a written test to get an interview. This is often common with cities that have an established Police Civil Service Commission. It is up to the employer to select the type of examination for their agency as long as the examination meets certain conditions.
Many agencies filter out applications for interviews based on education, experience, and veteran's preference. It is imperative for candidates to focus detailed attention on the quality of their application, cover letter, and resume. A cover letter should be specific to the agency you are applying. Hiring managers can quickly identify template letters. Keep them unique and heartfelt. Check and recheck you submissions for spelling errors and grammar. Quality report writing is an important trait for police officers and a poorly written letter can be enough in of itself to have your application sent to the reject pile.
Some agencies may require you to take a physical agility test. Make sure you are physically fit if you are looking for a police officer job. Shift work, poor eating habits, and poor sleeping schedules are hard enough on the physical health of a police officer. You do not want to enter the profession already out of shape.
If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, do your homework before the interview. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
If you are fortunate enough to get to the background process, congratulations, you just stepped above about 99% of your competition. But the job is not yours yet. Police agencies are looking for someone who have a solid background. Officers are often scrutinized by the courts and they expected to be trusted by the public. A officer with a poor background can be embarrassing for an agency.
Most police officer backgrounds are detailed. You will be asked to disclose all your past baggage. Word of warning… DO SO. Background investigators are trained to dig. If they come up with some non-disclosed incident on your record (including your juvenile record) or they receive similar information from one of many people that they interview, you may discover that not disclosing the information could easily be a death sentence. To make matters worse, most background investigators get copies of other agency backgrounds and it may be too late in the next round to learn from a past non-disclosure mistake. Very few departments are willing to risk taking on a candidate that failed another agency's background. Again, you must keep in mind that there are many candidates out there.
If you have any of the following in your background, you may want to consider another profession BEFORE you expense yourself with many years of schooling or waste many years trying to pursue a job in law enforcement…
Make sure you know the MN state statute that requires departments to have a Model Policy regarding police conduct. If your background includes incidents that would violate components of this policy, disclose it, explain it, and say you've learned from it.
It is also required by Minnesota state statute 626.8471
that all peace officer candidates go through a psychological evaluation. Below is a video that will explain some of the testing process.
Most times you will be provided with a contingent offer prior to a psychological test. Be careful not to brag to everyone that you received a hiring offer until AFTER you received your final offer. Surprisingly, more and more candidates are failing psychological tests. It is extremely embarrassing to have to explain to everyone that you ended up not getting the job because you were not considered psychologically fit for the position.