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How to Become a Police Officer in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a population of over 3.8 million and 54 people per square mile.1 Nearly 9,000 sworn cops protect and serve the state of Oklahoma.2 With the cost of living being 19% less than the national average, Oklahoma is an affordable state that a sheriff or officer can comfortably make his or her home.3

The Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) provides all education and training for the state of Oklahoma’s peace (or police) officers. CLEET’s mission is to provide citizens of Oklahoma with officers who are trained to be professional, ethical, and conscientious, and to protect the public by regulating private security in the state of Oklahoma through education and licensing requirements.

Oklahoma Police Officer Requirements

Applicants hoping to become law enforcement officers in Oklahoma must:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be 21 years of age
  • Have no felony convictions nor domestic violence incidents
  • Have fingerprint clearance from the FBI and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
  • Have been administered a psychological evaluation and been evaluated by a psychologist licensed by the state
  • Not have been committed to an Oklahoma state mental institution involuntarily
“[An aspiring officer should have:]

  1. Character. The first and toughest huddle to overcome is a background investigation. Live your life where you have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.
  2. Education. A degree in a related field such as criminal justice.
  3. Good physical condition.”

-Carlton Stallings, Vice President of the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police

Required Examinations

Before attending a CLEET-certified basic training academy, applicants must pass three exams. Applicants must take the Oklahoma Peace Officer Selection Test (OPOST), a reading, writing and comprehension exam. The minimum acceptable score is 70%.4 This test is offered monthly at 10 different locations throughout Oklahoma. Applicants will also be required to take the CLEET Test for Safe Participation to ensure that the applicant is in good physical condition and can safely complete the training academy. Applicants can take the Test for Safe Participation no more than four times. Lastly, applicants are required undergo a psychological evaluation by a licensed psychologist.

Oklahoma State Trooper Requirements

Oklahoma has 111,994 miles of roads and highways. The Oklahoma State Patrol has 31 troop areas: 13 serve the counties of Oklahoma and turnpikes, while the remaining 18 are various tactical teams including:

  • Aircraft
  • Bomb squad
  • Capital patrol
  • Commercial motor vehicle enforcement
  • Dive team
  • Executive security
  • Investigations division
  • Lake patrol
  • Motorcycles
  • Special operations
  • Tactical team
  • Training

In order to apply to become an Oklahoma state trooper, applicants must be at least 21 years of age but not older than 45 years of age and be a US citizen. There are a number of ways to meet the education requirement for an Oklahoma state trooper. Applicants must either:

  • Possess an associate’s degree OR have completed 62 hours from an accredited university or college, OR
  • Have completed 32 hours of study from an accredited university or college, PLUS three years of active or reserve military service, OR
  • Have completed 32 hours of study from an accredited university or college AND have been honorably discharged from the military*

*Each year of honorable military service, active or reserve, qualifies for 10 credit hours (maximum three years).

“I can’t emphasize how important education is. A bachelor’s degree in any subject is extremely helpful. A master’s degree, even better. Learn a language, for example: Spanish. Any computer classes pay off. Much police work is now on the computer. Military experience is extremely valuable. Active military and or reserves is helpful.” -Chief Brian Miller, Chief of Police, Hammond, Indiana

Oklahoma Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Oklahoma is home to 77 counties. Cleveland County is home to the largest sheriff’s office in the state. For consideration, applicants must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have a valid Oklahoma driver’s license
  • Pass a background check and criminal history review
  • Pass a physical exam, psychological test and physical agility test
  • Become certified from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET)

Police Departments in Oklahoma

There are nearly 500 law enforcement agencies in the state of Oklahoma with around 230 officers for every 100,000 residents.5 Tulsa and Oklahoma City, both located in Oklahoma, are two of the 50 largest cities in the US.

Oklahoma City

Home to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Oklahoma City Police Department (OKCPD) has 1,029 sworn officers and 237 civilian employees. The OKCPD has one main station and five substations to serve its population of over 610,000. In addition to uniform patrol officers, the Department has an investigations bureau, an equine unit, lake patrol section, a canine unit, airport unit, motorcycle unit and a helicopter unit.

Applicants looking to become a member of the OKCPD should be a US citizen between the ages of 21 and 45 with “suitable emotional stability” and “good moral character.” Applicants should have a high school diploma or its equivalent and possess a valid driver’s license. OKCPD gives preference to individuals with an honorable military background. To find out more about what it takes, visit our How to Become a Police Officer in Oklahoma City page.

Tulsa

The Tulsa Police Department (TPD) is the second largest police department in the state, serving a population of 390,000. TPD has eight specialized units:

  • Air support unit
  • Bomb squad
  • Cyber crimes Unit
  • Dive team
  • K-9 unit
  • Motorcycle squad
  • Special investigations
  • Special operations team

To apply, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with a C+ or better average from an accredited college or university and must:

  • Be between 21 and 45 years of age
  • Be a resident of Tulsa metropolitan area and a US Citizen
  • Have far visual acuity of 20/30 minimum with or without glasses or contacts
  • Have peripheral vision without correction of 140 degrees in the horizontal median
  • Be able to distinguish between the colors red and green on an Ishihara test for color blindness
  • Have unaided hearing loss of no more than 40 db at 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz

TPD does not accept military service for educational credit unless the service was converted through an accredited college or university prior to the candidate’s application being filed. For more information about the TPD, check out our How to Become a Police Officer in Tulsa guide.

“Be impeccable. Remember that everything you say and do is a reflection of who you are. Now that I’m in management, I look for officers who are strong in character – we can teach the skills necessary to do the job but it’s more challenging to find those who are there for the right reasons.” -Kristen Ziman, Commander with the Aurora Police Department

Police Training Academies in Oklahoma

All police recruits are required to attend a CLEET-approved law enforcement training academy for 28 weeks. At the academy, the aspiring cops will learn about:

  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law
  • Emergency vehicle operation
  • Firearms training
  • Self-defense tactics
  • Principles of investigation
  • First aid
  • Minority relations
  • Police community relations

CLEET-approved training academies include:

  • Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training – Ada, OK
  • Police Training Facility – Oklahoma City, OK
  • Oklahoma County Training Center – Nicoma Park, OK
  • Oklahoma County Training Center – Spencer, OK
  • Tulsa Police Academy – Tulsa, OK

Oklahoma Police Jobs Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 8,020 men and women serving as law enforcement in Oklahoma.2 It is projected that by 2022, the number of law enforcement officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers in the state will grow by 15.8% to nearly 10,000.6 This increase is three times the national average expected growth rate of 5%.6 On average, there are projected to be about 400 law enforcement job openings per year in the state that had an average police officer salary of $42,720 in 2014.6,2 The number of new police officers is closely tied to a city’s budget and priorities. The number of law enforcement openings for Oklahoma may vary due to budget constraints.

For law enforcement jobs in Oklahoma, check out our Police Jobs Board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Oklahoma

City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Lawton 300 $43,190
Oklahoma City 2,350 $46,270
Tulsa Not released $44,920

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

References:
1. US Census Bureau: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/40000.html
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oklahoma:https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ok.htm
3. Sperling’s Best Places, Oklahoma: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/oklahoma
4. Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training: https://www.ok.gov/cleet/Peace_Officers/Reading,_Writing_and_Comprehension_Test/
5. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/Longterm