How to Become a Police Officer in Albuquerque
The Albuquerque Police Department has a strong dedication to community policing and is made up of sworn officers who are supported by hundreds of civilian employees.1 Albuquerque is the largest city by population in New Mexico, with more than 887,000 residents living in an area of 187 square miles.2 Although the city’s population is growing, the crime rate for many major crimes including auto burglary, commercial burglary, and robbery dropped between 2017 and 2018.1,2 As of August 2018, the APD had 854 sworn officers, with 147 recruits seated in the 2018 fall and 2019 spring police academies.1 The process for becoming an Albuquerque police officer is detailed below.
Albuquerque Police Officer Requirements
The process of joining the Albuquerque Police Department as a new officer begins with completing an interest card. This allows the Department to decide if recruits meet the minimum requirements for being a cop in the city. To qualify for police recruitment, the APD requires applicants to:
- Be a minimum age of 21
- Hold US citizenship
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have completed one of the following: 32 college credit hours, two years of active military duty with an honorable discharge, four years in the National Guard, two years working as a police service aide with the APD, or five years working in any job
Qualified recruits may start the APD hiring process, which involves rigorous screening of candidates’ mental and physical fitness as well as their communication skills and overall background.
Steps in the Albuquerque Police Department Hiring Process
In order to ensure that the best-qualified candidates are hired as police recruits, the APD has developed a standardized hiring process that tests candidates skills as well as their commitment to becoming a police officer. This intensive screening process can take between three to nine months, not including police cadet training.1 For those who meet the basic qualifications, the steps to be hired as an Albuquerque police officer are:
- Submit an Interest Card to determine whether you are eligible to become an APD officer.
- Be invited to a candidate initial testing weekend, which takes place at the Albuquerque Police Academy. The following six steps take place during the testing weekend.
- Take Albuquerque’s City Entrance Exam, which measures skills applicable to police work such as observation, communication, reasoning, and math.
- Submit a Personal History Statement (PHS) designed to gage qualifications for police work such as honesty, integrity, and respect. This should be written prior to arriving at the testing weekend.
- Complete a Physical Abilities Test (PAT). You are encouraged to perform at your very best, as scores are part of the overall ranking for candidates.
- Take the Nelson Denny Exam, which measures vocabulary, reading, and comprehension abilities.
- Bring supporting documents to the APD testing weekend, which will include official school transcripts, a passport-style photo, copies of identification documents, and a credit report.
- Take the Department’s written psychological exams.
- Go through the APD’s background investigation process, which will include criminal history records as well as employment history, driving history, credit references, community and social histories, and more.
- Take a polygraph exam, which will include questions about background, personal history, and statements made during the interview process to this point.
- Take an in-person psychological assessment, which will be combined with the written psychological assessments to gauge your overall aptitude for police work.
- Complete an oral interview with the APD police chief’s selection committee.
- Undergo an executive review of all of the steps taken in the hiring process to this point.
- If requested, complete a formal application to the Department.
- Complete a medical exam, which will include overall medical history as well as vision and hearing screening, and a drug test.
- Receive an offer of employment with the APD as a police recruit.
- Complete the 26-week police training academy (more on this below).
For more information about how to become a cop in a typical big city, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. If you are ready to apply, find specific application information on the Albuquerque Police Department – Police Officer Recruiting page.
Preparing for the Albuquerque Police Testing Process
If your goal is to work as a police officer in Albuquerque, it’s best to be prepared for the hiring and selection process. While there may be some things you cannot really prepare for, such as the psychological exam, you are encouraged to practice for the written and physical exams. The below resources can help you prepare.
- APD Recruit Selection Process Video
- Printable Study Guide for the City of Albuquerque Police Department Entry-Level Written Exam
- Online Practice Exam for the City of Albuquerque Police Department Entry-Level Written Exam
- Instructions for the Personal History Statement
- Study Guide for the Nelson-Denny Reading Test
In addition, candidates must be in peak physical fitness. The APD does not provide resources for preparing for this test, but candidates must be able to:1
- Complete at least 15 full push-ups in one minute.
- Run 1.5 miles in a maximum of 15:14 (minutes:seconds).
- Run 300 meters in a maximum of 71 seconds.
- Complete at least 27 full sit-ups in one minute.
For more information and resources, be sure to visit the APD website.
Albuquerque Police Department Law Enforcement Academy
The APD’s Law Enforcement Academy is responsible for training all new recruits to the Department. Newly-hired officers must complete the 26-week program, which includes 40 hours of instruction per week. Classwork includes patrol procedures, law, physical fitness, defensive tactics, firearms, police driving, and other areas crucial to working in law enforcement. Upon successful completion of the police academy, new recruits are eligible to become certified officers through the state of New Mexico.
Albuquerque Police Department Information
The APD is divided into six different geographical area commands: Foothills, Northeast, Southeast, Valley, Southwest, and Northwest. The APD is committed to working with the community to eradicate crime and establish positive relationships. They hold a monthly Community Policing Council to hear from the residents of the city about concerns. The Department also hosts a Citizens Police Academy to teach residents about policing in the city. The Academy is free and lasts for 12 weeks. Those interested in attending must apply with the Department and be at least 18 years old.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
As new cops-in-training, academy recruits earn $18.97 per hour during basic training and that salary rises to $20.85 and $29.00 per hour after training and after one year of service, respectively.1 The APD also offers generous benefits including health and dental insurance, overtime pay, bonuses for college degrees, bilingual pay, and a take-home-a-car program.1 After 25 years of service, Albuquerque police officers are eligible to retire at 90% of the top pay level achieved during their service.1 The average salary for a patrol officer in Albuquerque is $51,210.3
The long-term projections for available jobs in law enforcement in New Mexico are promising for new recruits. Growth in this industry is expected to be positive with a 6.6% increase between now and 2022.4 This means that hopeful new cops in the state can expect to see an average of 150 new positions opening up each year.4 For more information on current APD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Albuquerque
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are about 1,950 police and sheriff’s patrol officers employed in the Albuquerque metro area. This includes officers working for the Albuquerque Police Department as well as those working for departments in smaller nearby cities. The table below provides more information on police employment and crime rates in the greater Albuquerque area.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population5||Police Dept. Total Employees6||Sworn Officers6||Civilian Staff6||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People7||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People7|
|Albuquerque||Albuquerque Police Department (APD)||560,218||N/A||854||N/A||1.11||6.9|
|Bernalillo||Bernalillo Police Department (BPD)||9,638||23||21||2||0.89||4.1|
|Los Lunas||Los Lunas Police Department (LLPD)||15,501||40||36||4||0.83||4.9|
|Rio Rancho||Rio Rancho Police Department (RRPD)||96,159||233||135||98||0.22||2.3|
|Santa Fe||Santa Fe Police Department (SFPD)||83,776||213||166||47||0.39||3.9|
|Socorro||Socorro Police Department (SPD)||8,440||N/A||N/A||N/A||0.76||5.6|
- Albuquerque Police Officers Association – A membership organization that supports professional development for officers and promotes charity work in the Albuquerque communnity.
- New Mexico Fraternal Order of Police – Part of the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police organization in the US, the New Mexico State Lodge works to protect and promote the interests and welfare of New Mexico police and their families.
1. Albuquerque Police Department: https://www.cabq.gov/police/
2. Visit Albuquerque: https://www.visitalbuquerque.org/media/media-kit/facts/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Albuquerque, NM: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_10740.htm#33-0000
4. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
5. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045218
6. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
7. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Known to Law Enforcement by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-6/table-6.xls/view