How to Become a Police Officer in Charlotte
Charlotte, home to an estimated 842,000 residents, is the largest city in North Carolina and enjoys a cost of living slightly below the national average.1,2 To help keep the city safe, the consolidated Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department employs 1,972 sworn officers and 520 civilian personnel with an annual operating budget of $201.6 million.3,4 The CMPD’s jurisdiction covers over 438 square miles and the department is the largest metro police department between Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC.3,4 Potential law enforcement officers will find that Charlotte is a great place to start a promising career. Individuals hoping to become a part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should continue reading for more information about the application, selection, and training process for becoming a CMPD officer.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Requirements
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) seeks to recruit the best of the best and has a particular focus on local recruitment wherever possible. Prospective officers may apply during quarterly open application periods, which are published through the CMPD website. To qualify for a position as a CMPD police officer, candidates must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a US citizen
- Be a resident of North Carolina or South Carolina, within a 45-mile radius of CMPD headquarters
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Possess or meet the qualifications to obtain a North Carolina or South Carolina driver’s license
- Have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
- Have no DUIs/DWIs within the past five years
- Have normal color vision and visual acuity of 20/30 (corrected)
- Not have used marijuana within one year of application, nor repeated use of any other illegal drugs
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
- Not have visible tattoos or branding on the head, face, chest, or neck and must comply with the department’s overall tattoo policy
The CMPD encourages candidates to have an associate’s degree, though this is not a requirement. Candidates who pass the initial screening will be invited to take the Darany Entry Level Police Officer Examination, followed by a physical ability test. Passing candidates will receive an application packet and enter the next stage of the competitive hiring process. This includes a formal interview and passing a drug screen as well as a background investigation. All potential CMPD cops must also pass psychological, polygraph, and medical examinations. The process from application to placement in the police academy can take four to six months.
For additional information about how to become a cop in a city like Charlotte, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. For more recruitment information, visit the: CMPD Recruitment page.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Training Academy
Police recruits must attend basic training at the CMPD Training Academy in Charlotte. The 22-week academy consists of 903 hours of training. Some of the topics that law enforcement recruits will be exposed to include accident investigation, cultural diversity, crime prevention, driver’s training, patrol techniques, and traffic enforcement. In total, the academy takes over 971 clock hours. Training concludes with a 300-question comprehensive examination that recruits must pass in order to be sworn in.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Information
The stated goal of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is to make Charlotte “one of the safest large cities in America.” To fulfill this mission, the CMPD has four main service areas: investigative services, field services, support services, and administrative services. The Department has 13 patrol divisions under Field Services North and Field Services South. CMPD has several specialized units that cops can work in, some of which include the arson and bomb unit, domestic violence unit, homicide unit, and SWAT team.
To encourage community involvement, the CMPD maintains numerous programs, such as COPS & Barbers, COPS & Kids, Respect Engage Accountability Character Honesty Officers Understanding Teens (REACH OUT), Right Moves for Youth, Neighborhood Watch (there are about 260 active neighborhood watch groups in Mecklenburg County), and Ride-Along programs.4 Additionally, officers are expected and encouraged to regularly speak with citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders living and working within their beats.
The CMPD also holds a Citizens Academy for residents of Mecklenburg County over 18 years of age. The academy exists so that citizens can learn more about the operation of the police department and increase community involvement. All required courses are offered twice per year. Citizens must complete all courses within two years in order to graduate.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Police trainees with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department receive a starting salary of $44,362.4 During training and throughout the time of service, the CMPD offers 5% incentive pay for associate’s degree holders and 10% incentive pay for bachelor’s degree holders.4 The department also offers an additional 5% incentive pay for proficiency in its five most-desired languages.4 All officers receive medical insurance, paid parental leave, and tuition reimbursement for qualifying continuing education. The department also offers a 401K retirement plan with a 5% salary contribution from the City of Charlotte.4 Officers are eligible for full retirement benefits after 30 years of service or at the age of 55.4
About 6,730 cops were employed in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill metropolitan area as of 2017.5 The annual average salary for police officers in the area is $53,310.5 The number of law enforcement officers in North Carolina is projected to increase by 9% through 2026, with about 205 job openings per year.6 With the number of new jobs for police officers increasing, Charlotte would be a great place for an aspiring cop to start a career.
For more information on current CMPD cop positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
- North Carolina Law Enforcement Training and Standards Commissions – The North Carolina Department of Justice establishes initial and ongoing training standards for all law enforcement officers in the state and also maintains the North Carolina Justice Academy.
- North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police – This organization accepts current and retired law enforcement officer members and provides representation and professional development to its membership.
1. Data USA, Charlotte, NC: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/charlotte-nc/
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Charlotte, North Carolina: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/north_carolina/charlotte
3. City of Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department Fast Facts: http://charlottenc.gov/newsroom/Department%20Fact%20Sheets/Fast_Facts-CMPD.pdf
4. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department: http://charlottenc.gov/cmpd/Pages/default.aspx
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_16740.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm