How to Become a Police Officer in Dallas
With about 1.3 million people, Dallas, Texas is the ninth-largest city in the United States.1 Together with Fort Worth, Dallas forms part of the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the United States.1 The city also boasts being the number one destination in the state of Texas for visitors and tourism.1 The Dallas Police Department is charged with keeping Dallas residents and visitors safe. The DPD is the second-largest police force in Texas with over 3,300 sworn members and 500 civilian personnel.2 For those wishing to become part of the law enforcement team in Dallas, the application, selection, and training processes are detailed below.
Dallas Police Officer Requirements
Like many other major cities, Dallas requires that prospective police officers take a Civil Service Written test. The exam is offered monthly. Candidates must meet various other basic prerequisites. All applicants must:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 19 years and six months old at the time of application, and between the ages of 21 and 44 at the time of hire
- Hold a valid driver’s license
- Have earned at least 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university OR have served at least three years in the military with an honorable discharge
- Have a vision in each eye of at least 20/100
- Not have any pending court cases
- Not have more than three hazardous traffic violations in the past 24 months
- Comply with the DPD’s tattoo policy
After completing the above steps and qualifications, the next step for joining the law enforcement team in Dallas is to have a preliminary screening interview. Then, applicants must pass a board interview with DPD police officers and supervisors. Following the interviews, a polygraph, psychological and medical exam, and a background check will be performed. Next, a physical test will be administered, which includes a bench press, run, sit-ups, and push-ups. Upon passing these evaluations, candidates may be invited to attend the 35-week police academy, for which they will be paid, followed by 24 weeks of field training.
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 now, find specific application information at Dallas Police Department – Recruiting.
Dallas Police Basic Training Academy
The Dallas Police Basic Training Academy is 36 weeks long, with 1,431 hours of instruction.2 The academy is broken up into three phases. Topics covered include defensive driving, code of conduct, fitness, defensive tactics, and Spanish. The DPD recommends that candidates arrive at the academy in peak physical fitness as the curriculum includes intense physical training and conditioning. Following graduation from the police academy, new officers are assigned to a patrol division where they will be partnered with a Field Training Officer for a further 24 weeks of field training.
Dallas Police Department Information
The Dallas Police Department has over 120 years of history serving the Dallas community. The DPD is organized into seven squad divisions. Each of those divisions contains five sectors, with 35 total sectors. There are eight patrol divisions serving the 385.8 square miles within city limits.2 Specialized divisions to which qualified patrol officers can apply for transfer include criminal investigations, auto theft, criminal intelligence unit, computer crime squad, and the mounted unit.
Hiring and retention is a current challenge for the Dallas Police Department. According to recent reports, the department has lost hundreds of officers during recent years; the department is evaluating whether these departures are tied to command structure and use of resources.3 The department’s lack of long-term strategy may also play a role in the losses, as a number of external evaluators have recommended that the department look into developing a solid long-term strategy addressing recruiting and other pressing issues, including seeking outside accreditation and re-evaluating the department’s organization.3
The DPD believes in the importance of involving the community in efforts to combat crime and increase police responsiveness. Among other initiatives, a Citizen’s Police Academy is available to Dallas residents who are 21 and older and wish to learn more about how DPD cops are trained and how the DPD operates. The program is free and lasts for eight to 10 weeks (one three-hour class each week). Find out more and complete an application on the Citizen’s Academy page.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
The starting salary for Dallas police officers depends on education. For cops who have a bachelor’s degree, the starting salary is $52,807, compared to cops without a degree, who have a starting salary of $49,207.2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that police officers in Dallas made an average annual salary of $68,550 in 2017.5 Cops in Dallas can qualify for pay incentives by working qualifying shifts and patrols, speaking a foreign language, and/or earning advanced TCOLE certifications. DPD officers can also expect health and dental benefits and generous paid time off. The Dallas Police Department offers a defined benefit pension plan, into which members contribute 13.5% of their compensation each paycheck; the city contributes 34.5% of the member’s base pay during each pay period.2 Officers are eligible to retire after 20 years of service or at the age of 53 with at least five years of service.2
The outlook for police officers in the state of Texas is bright. People who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement in Texas can expect around 16.4% growth in job opportunities through 2026, with approximately 1,045 new police officer jobs available each year through 2026.6
For more information on current DPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our state job board page for Texas.
Cities and Police Departments Near Dallas
There are an estimated 14,840 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in the Dallas metroplex.4 While the city of Dallas employs the most police officers, there are various large and small cities surrounding Dallas that offer competitive opportunities for aspiring cops. The table below compares police employment and crime rates in the Dallas area.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population7||Police Dept. Total Employees8||Sworn Officers8||Civilian Staff8||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People9||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People9|
|Arlington||Arlington Police Department (APD)||396,394||856||661||195||0.55||3.1|
|Dallas||Dallas Police Department (DPD)||1,345,047||3,829||3,279||550||0.75||3.34|
|Fort Worth||Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD)||874,168||2,007||1,566||441||0.51||3.2|
|Garland||Garland Police Department (GPD)||238,002||454||326||128||0.32||3.2|
|McKinney||McKinney Police Department (MPD)||181,330||234||189||45||0.13||1.2|
|Plano||Plano Police Department (PPD)||286,143||512||350||162||0.14||1.9|
- Texas Fraternal Order of Police: The Texas Fraternal Order of Police represents law enforcement officers statewide and offers advocacy for improved wages, benefits, and working conditions.
- Texas Fraternal Order of Police Foundation: The Texas Fraternal Order of Police Foundation assists families left behind by officers killed in the line of duty.
1. Visit Dallas: https://www.visitdallas.com/
2. Dallas Police Department: https://www.dallaspolice.net/
3. Dallas News, “Dallas Police Lack Strategic Plan to Help Address Patrol, Tech Challenges, Report Says,” 29 May 2018: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2018/05/29/dallas-police-lack-strategic-plan-to-help-address-patrol-tech-challenges-report-says/
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19100.htm
6. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
7. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045221
8. 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
9. 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