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How to Become a Police Officer in Idaho

The mountainous state of Idaho has a population of 1.6 million with a median household income of $46,767.1 Law enforcement officers will find Idaho an affordable place to live being 2% lower than the national average.2 There is room to grow as a police officer as there are currently fewer than 3,000 cops in Idaho’s police and sheriff’s departments.3 While each police department or sheriff’s office has its own requirements for prospective police officers, there are some general guidelines expected for anyone desiring to start a career in law enforcement. These, as well as some specific department guidelines, are detailed below.

Idaho Police Officer Requirements

The Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) lists minimum requirements for becoming sworn law enforcement in the state. In addition to being a US citizen, potential recruits must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma, GED or state equivalent
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Not have used marijuana regularly within the past five years or occasionally within the past three years, and have not used other controlled substances
  • Have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or DUI convictions within the past five years and have no felony convictions
  • Have been fingerprinted
  • Have a satisfactory background investigation
  • Have a valid driver’s license from the state of Idaho with a good driving record

Required Examinations

Applicants hoping to become cops in Idaho must undergo a physical readiness test and pass the Idaho POST Academy Physical Readiness Test. A psychological evaluation must be completed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. An aptitude test is also required.

“As early as possible, aspiring peace officers should be the kind of person that a community wants to hire as a police officer. That means no tattoos, no legal trouble in including traffic convictions, a good work record, and establishing a reputation that will be well spoken of during a background check.” -Dr. Joel F. Shults, author of The Badge and the Brain

Idaho State Patrol Requirements

The Idaho State Police (ISP), headquartered in Meridian, has five departments: racing and commission, financial and surplus, POST academy, ISP training department, and planning, grants and research.

To become an Idaho State Police Trooper, applicants must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have be fingerprinted and have no felony convictions
  • Meet ISP’s drug policy
  • Pass a written and physical exam, psychological and polygraph evaluation, an oral interview and a background examination
  • Have two or more years of work experience*
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Must meet physical, mental vision and hearing requirements for the ISP

*Two years of attendance at an accredited college or university may be substituted for work experience.

Idaho Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Sheriff’s deputies maintain the public safety of Idaho’s 44 counties. The most populous county in Idaho, Ada County, has a population of over 400,000 people.4 For consideration to join Ada County’s Sheriff’s Office, potential cops must:

  • Be at least 21 year of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have either 64 credit hours or an associate degree from an accredited college or university, two years of full-time work experience from another public law enforcement agency, or have four years of honorable military experience
  • Have a satisfactory background examination that exhibits good moral character

Police Departments in Idaho

There are 2,680 law enforcement officers in Idaho, with an average annual salary of $48,630 reported in 2014.3

Boise

The Boise Police Department has a police force of 302 sworn officers. The Boise Police Department (BPD) has one main department and seven sub-stations across the city. The BPD has 16 specialty units, some of which include: the airport police, the bar team, Boise State University, the bomb squad, community service specialists, the crisis negotiation unit, DUI night step, refugee liaison, and the special operations unit. To apply, hopeful cops must:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Must have 20/200 vision (uncorrected) with 20/20 in the strong eye (corrected) and 20/60 in the weaker eye (corrected)
  • Have completed 60 credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university, have an Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) intermediate certificate, OR have honorable military experience with 30 credit hours from an accredited college or university
  • Have not used marijuana regularly within the past five years or occasionally within the past three years, and have not used other controlled substances
  • Have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or DUI convictions within the past five years and have no felony convictions

Idaho Falls

The Idaho Falls Police Department (IFPD) has 87 sworn cops on staff with a starting salary of $37,752.5 The Department provides safety amenities to Bonneville County. IFPD has three divisions: uniform, detective, and services division. For consideration to become a probationary police officer, applicants must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED or a combination of education and verifiable work experience
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Acquire Idaho POST Basic Certification
  • Pass a drug screen

Police Training Academies in Idaho

All police and sheriff’s deputies in Idaho are required to complete a 10-week basic academy. Recruits will gain knowledge of and be tested on several topics, including law, firearms, driving skills, and arrest techniques.

There is one basic training academy in Idaho:

  • Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy – Meridian, ID

Idaho Police Jobs Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 2,680 cops in Idaho.3 It is projected that by 2022, that workforce will grow by 5.5%.7 On average, there are 100 law enforcement job openings per year in the state with an average salary of $48,630.6,3 The number of new police officers is closely tied to a city’s budget and priorities so keep that in mind as you apply for positions across the state. With Idaho’s cost of living being 2% lower than the national average, the city would make a good home to someone looking to start a career in law enforcement.2

To search law enforcement jobs in Idaho, check out our Police Jobs Board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Idaho

City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Boise City – Nampa 1,220 $54,240
Coeur d’Alene 230 $49,230
Idaho Falls 180 $46,230

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.

Retired NYPD detective Joseph L. Giacalone offers this advice for hopeful recruits, “Those seeking a job in law enforcement must stay out of trouble, avoid friends that will get you in trouble or places such as nightclubs and bars that are known for trouble. Since the downturn in the economy a few years ago, many people are still looking for work.”

References:
1. US Census Bureau, Idaho: http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/16
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Idaho: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/idaho
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Idaho: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm
4. US Census Bureau, Ada County, Idaho: http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/16001
5. Idaho Falls Police Department: http://www.idahofallspolice.com/
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm