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How to Become a Police Officer in Atlanta

The Atlanta Police Department has 1,751 sworn officers serving the greater Atlanta area.1 Dating back to 1853, Atlanta law enforcement has a long history of public service; today, the Atlanta Police Department serves a population of 472,506 people within city boundaries.2 The Atlanta PD continuously recruits new members for the police force as well as other administrative jobs within the department. Anyone looking to become a police officer in Atlanta must fulfill the requirements established by the city, which are outlined in detail below.

Atlanta Police Officer Requirements

The process to becoming an Atlanta police officer begins with completing an application, which can be done online or with a paper application submitted in person. Candidates must then bring the required supporting documentation to a recruiting event. In order to be eligible for police service with the Atlanta PD, applicants must:

  • Be a US citizen and at least 20 years old
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • If applicable, have an honorable or uncharacterized discharge from a US military branch
  • Have vision of 20/100 or more in each eye uncorrected, or a corrected 20/20
  • Meet minimum score requirements on the Accuplacer test, SAT, or ACT
  • Not have a felony record or have been found guilty of any offense that indicates a disregard for the law, a lack of good moral character, a disposition towards violence, or disqualifies the candidate from firearm ownership.

Continue reading to learn more about the police hiring process in Atlanta.

Erika Shields is the current Chief of Police in Atlanta, Georgia and has worked with the Atlanta Police Department since 1995. Chief Shields advocates for a 21st century policing model, which focuses on crime reduction and community relationships. Chief Shields earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Webster University and a master’s in Criminal Justice from Saint Leo University.

Steps in the Atlanta Police Department Hiring Process

Once a candidate’s basic qualifications have been verified, he or she will be invited to proceed in the Atlanta Police Department’s competitive hiring process. This hiring process is designed to test prospective officers’ overall skills, suitability, and commitment for police work. Qualified candidates will undergo the following steps:

  1. Submit an online application through the APD website.
  2. Take and pass one of the APD’s acceptable qualifying entry-level law enforcement exams.
  3. RSVP and attend an upcoming APD Recruiting Event. It is recommended that candidates wear business attire, but bring athletic attire.
  4. Provide copies of the required applicant documentation either at the recruiting event or in-person following the event.
  5. During the recruiting event, pass the Department’s physical agility test.
  6. Undergo a background check that investigates employment, criminal, driving, and financial history, as well as other aspects of the candidate’s background.
  7. Complete a Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA).
  8. Undergo a thorough medical exam, which includes an investigation into medical history.
  9. Complete a psychological exam.
  10. Receive a conditional hire offer and be appointed to an upcoming police academy class.

For more information on the typical process to be hired as a cop in a big city, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our homepage.

Preparing for the Atlanta Police Testing Process

Those who wish to work for the Atlanta Police Department must be prepared for a thorough applicant testing process. This process measures candidates’ communication and reasoning skills as well as their physical abilities. The following resources can help you prepare.

The Atlanta Police Department’s physical agility test requires that candidates be able to complete:

  • 20 military-style push-ups in 60 seconds or less
  • 25 sit-ups in 60 seconds or less
  • 12″ step test

For more information, visit the Atlanta Police Department website.

Herbert T. Jenkins Police Academy

Once recruits have been deemed eligible for hire, they must complete recruit training. Training takes place at the Atlanta police academy, formally known as the Herbert T. Jenkins Police Academy. Candidates must complete the vigorous 21-week program plus an additional 12 weeks of field and classroom training led by veteran officers. The program includes intense physical training, defensive training, firearm training, and hundreds of hours of classroom instruction. It is recommended that candidates begin a serious physical conditioning program prior to entering the academy. To graduate, candidates must run a mile and a half in less than 13 and a half minutes and run an obstacle course in one minute and 41 seconds.

For more information on Atlanta PD recruit hiring and the police academy training process, consult the APD careers page.

Atlanta Police Department Information

In order to have officers available to local residents as much as possible, the Atlanta Police Department consists of numerous mini-precincts, foot patrols, and bicycle patrols. Field Operations are divided into six geographical zones that cover the city parameters. Additionally, the city has a number of Special Operation Sections that include youth and community services, cyber crimes, homeland security, K-9, mounted patrol, DUI task force, SWAT, and much more.

The Atlanta Police Department makes community participation a top priority. The force is constantly looking for ways to connect Atlanta cops with the local communities they serve. The department has a number of ongoing programs and annual events that aim to bring the communities together such as the Annual Policeman’s Ball, Crime Stoppers Atlanta, the Annual “Crime is Toast” Breakfast, and Link Up Against Crime.

There are also a number of youth programs for Atlanta children such as the Police Athletic League (PAL), which uses sports and recreation to introduce community children to the officers on a regular basis as coaches and mentors. The program often has a variety of seasonal activities including summer camp, sports activities, mentoring, and homework assistance. In addition, the APD Internship Program gives college students opportunities to work within the department for a specified time.

Contact Information

226 Peachtree ST SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
APD Website
APD Facebook
APD Twitter

Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook

During training, Atlanta police recruits with a high school diploma earn an annual salary of $40,000.1 This rises to $41,400 for recruits with an associate’s degree and $42,800 for recruits with a bachelor’s degree.2 After graduating from the police academy, the salary of an Atlanta police officer will vary depending on education, experience, and rank. The higher pay grade for those with associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees applies throughout an officer’s service. Additionally, officers receive tuition reimbursement for higher education, an annual uniform allowance, health and life insurance, and continual opportunities to qualify for promotions and special pay duties. The department also provides a defined contribution pension plan as well as deferred compensation and retirement savings plans. Although the exact salary an officer can expect ranges, the average annual salary for a patrol officer in the Atlanta metro is $46,060.3 Through 2026, employment of police officers in Georgia overall is expected to increase by 11.3%.4

For more information on current Atlanta law enforcement positions, take a look at our job board page.

Cities and Police Departments Near Atlanta

An estimated 12,100 police and sheriff’s patrol officers are employed in the greater Atlanta metro according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.3 While the Atlanta PD is the largest employer of police officers in the area, there are various suburban and rural PDs where aspiring cops can launch their careers. The table below describes police employment and crime data for Atlanta-area police departments.

CityForce Name/AbbreviationCity Population5Police Dept. Total Employees6Sworn Officers6Civilian Staff6Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People7Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People7
AtlantaAtlanta Police Department (APD)498,0442,1401,6944461.024.98
DecaturDecatur Police Department (DPD)23,8325139120.172.2
MariettaMarietta Police Department (MPD)61,048175137380.383.7
RoswellRoswell Police Department (RPD)94,786196141550.151.8
Sandy SpringsSandy Springs Police Department (SSPD)106,739144127170.112.7

Additional Resources

  • Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council – The GA POST sets minimum standards and qualifications for Georgia police officers statewide and also administers continuing education and professional development programs.
  • Atlanta Fraternal Order of Police – The Atlanta Fraternal Order of Police is a membership organization for current and retired officers. The organization offers education and networking opportunities as well as legal support for members.
  • Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police – Known as GACP, this organization promotes cooperation between police departments across the state of Georgia and accepts members from across the ranks of law enforcement administration.

References:
1. Atlanta Police Department: http://www.atlantapd.org/
2. Data USA, Atlanta, Georgia: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/atlanta-ga/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_12060.htm
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