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How to Become a Police Officer in Ohio

Those who wish to enter the field of law enforcement in Ohio enjoy an internationally recognized national leader in police officer training. With a population of over 11.5 million, Ohio is the seventh most populous state and the tenth most densely populated. The state employed a total of 23,230 police and sheriff’s patrol officers in 2014, who worked hard to protect its residents.1

With its low cost of living (about 11.8% lower than the national average) and high average salaries for cops ($54,750 average per year), Ohio is a great place for aspiring cops to start into the field of law enforcement.2,1

Police Officer Requirements

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) oversees the professional capabilities of the law enforcement field in Ohio. The OPOTC has approximately 60 schools throughout the state of Ohio that work to train basic, advanced, and specific categories of peace officers for the state of Ohio. Listed below are the basic requirements for every individual who seeks to become a police officer in Ohio.

Nationality, Age and Education

Ohio police officer candidates must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least a high school graduate or have a GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age when taking the civil servants exam
  • Have no felony convictions

Required Examinations

The OPOTC will train those individuals at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy who pass the following examinations:

  • Medical, physical and psychological tests
  • Writing and reading English tests
  • Polygraph test
  • Physical abilities test

The OPOTC requires a wide variety of examinations throughout the career of a police officer. The Academy offers courses to prepare for these examinations on a basic, advanced, and specialized level.

“Candidates should prepare the best way they can for the examination by taking as many practice exams as they can, studying how tests are made and what is involved. Reading comprehension, observation skills and spatial orientation are always major components. These skills can be practiced. Today, a candidate cannot walk into a police exam and say, ‘All I have to do is get an 80 to get hired.’ Those days are gone.” – Joseph L. Giacalone, Author of the Criminal Investigative Function: A Guide for the New Investigator

Ohio Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

Ohio has approximately 49,000 miles of highway and the Ohio State Highway Patrol provides assistance to patrol these highways and keep them safe. The Ohio State Patrol is a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. According to Trooper R.A. Milstead, Field Recruiter for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there are approximately 1600 state troopers that cover the state of Ohio highways. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is made up of six districts.

The Ohio State Patrol (OSHP) is supervised by Colonel Paul A. Pride. Colonel Pride is a 28-year veteran of the OSHP and holds a degree from Ohio University. He has completed the Northwest University School of Police Staff and Command training at the FBI National Academy.

In order to become an Ohio state trooper, the recruit must:

  • Be an US citizen
  • Be 20-34 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be an established Ohio resident and hold a valid Ohio operator’s license upon commission

Ohio Sheriff’s Deputy Requirements

Ohio is divided into 88 counties and in each of those counties, the sheriff is the foremost law enforcement officer. Columbus is located in Franklin County, where Sheriff Zach Scott is currently the elected sheriff.

In order to become a deputy sheriff at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, for example, candidates must be 18 years of age at the time of application. The individual must have received a high school diploma or GED and be able to speak, read and write the English language. The verification of identity and the eligibility to work in the US is mandatory. All candidates must provide verification documents proving this eligibility upon employment offer.

After these basic screening measures are met, prospective sheriff’s deputies must:

  • File application to take the pre-employment exam
  • Take the PAT (Physical Abilities Test)
  • Participate in a candidate interview
  • Submit to a background investigation and polygraph test
  • Submit to a review of information gathered (a pre-employment offer may be made at this time)
  • Take a physical and psychological examination to determine fitness

At this time, a formal appointment for employment will be made by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

Police Departments in Ohio

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are approximately 831 law enforcement agencies that employ 25,995 sworn police officers in the state of Ohio.3 Each entrant applying for a law enforcement opening must meet all local conditions and requisites as required by the county and complete a training program at one of the 60 police academies approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission.

Columbus

Columbus is ground zero for any individual who wants to be a cop in Ohio. With a population of over 800,000, Columbus is the largest city in Ohio and the 15th largest city in the US. The city is home to one of the 25 largest police departments in the United States, the Columbus Division of Police (CDP). The CDP employs nearly 2,000 sworn law enforcement officers and around 300 civilian workers. For more information, check out our How to Become a Police Officer in Columbus page.

Cleveland

The Cleveland Police Department (CPD) is one of the three largest police forces in Ohio, with about 1,500 officers and 225 civilian employees, who work to protect its nearly 400,000 residents. Cleveland requires an 8-step process that must be completed in order to become a police officer for the city of Cleveland:

  1. Determine eligibility
  2. Complete an employment application
  3. Take the Civil Service Exam
  4. Take the physical agility test
  5. Complete the employment paperwork
  6. Participate in an oral interview
  7. Complete remaining employment testing
  8. Successfully complete police academy training

To find out more about the CPD, check out our How to Become a Police Officer in Cleveland page.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio, with nearly 300,000 residents. The Cincinnati Police Department currently retains 1000 sworn police officers and approximately 125 civilian employees. The department is the main law enforcement agency for the City of Cincinnati and is responsible for a full array of policing services to 52 distinct neighborhoods. The law enforcement tasks are separated into three bureaus: patrol, investigations and support.

Police Training Academies in Ohio

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA), located in London, has been acclaimed by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and oversees all 60 police academies in the state of Ohio. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and every person who seeks a career in law enforcement in the state of Ohio must finish the police academy course that takes place in approximately 60 schools throughout the state. The OPOTA offers additional training for public defender investigators, bailiffs, probation officers, and parole officers.

Those who are offered or appointed a position with any law enforcement agency in the state of Ohio must undergo training at one of the 60 police academies that are located throughout the state of Ohio. The OPOTA offers online courses, regional training, and houses the Ohio Peace Training Commission. The academy has been recognized internationally and produces peace officers who are highly trained and familiar with cutting edge equipment and forensic methodology.

A full list of OPOTA training academies can be found on the OPOTA’s website.

“Dream big, but don’t talk too much about your dreams; it invites ridicule and can discourage you. Depending on the department you choose, there could be many opportunities to be a part of a specialized unit like Aviation, Harbor Patrol, Crime Scene Unit, and Major Case Squad. You can do anything you set your mind to so keep at it and you will get what you desire. Staying on Patrol is very noble as well so if that’s your dream, make the most of it” – John Paolucci, Retired Police Officer and Forensics Expert, NYPD.

Police Jobs Outlook in Ohio

The outlook for police and sheriff’s patrol officer jobs in the United States is good. While there are no data for Ohio in particular, Projections Central projects a 5% increase from 2012 to 2022 in employment of law enforcement sheriffs and cops in the nation.4 Surrounding states are expecting significant growth expected through 2022 (Kentucky with 32%, Indiana with 6%, Michigan with 1%, and Pennsylvania with almost 3%).4

The baby boomer retirees will influence the hiring and recruiting of new law enforcement officers. Cities such as Toledo and Akron have recently had significant recruitment cycles because of retiring law enforcement officials.

An overview of police jobs across the United States can be found on our Police Jobs Board page.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Ohio

City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Columbus 4,840 $63,600
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor 4,550 $57,500
Cincinnati-Middletown 3,580 $58,030
Dayton 1,260 $58,730

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Ohio: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Ohio: http://www.bestplaces.net/state/ohio
3. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf
4. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm