How to Become a Police Officer in Denver
The Denver Police Department is a well-respected law enforcement agency that is a popular choice for new officers thanks to the high quality of life the city of Denver offers. About 693,000 people live in Denver, which has been ranked the #3 Best Place to Live by US News & World Report.1,2 The city has a higher crime rate than similarly sized metros, with a violent crime rate of 387.4 per 100,000 residents and a property crime rate of 2,928.7 per 100,000 residents.2 To keep crime down, approximately 1,501 sworn officers work for the Denver police force.3 In order to increase the number of Denver cops in the department, the city is actively recruiting qualified candidates. The steps to becoming a Denver cop are described in detail on this page.
Denver Police Officer Requirements
The Denver PD seeks to recruit skilled officers who are prepared to answer all types of calls and conduct themselves calmly and professionally under pressure. Anyone looking to become a Denver police officer must fulfill a long list of basic requirements. All police candidates must:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 21 years old
- Hold a high school diploma or a GED
- Be a resident of Colorado
- Hold a valid driver’s license
- Not have been convicted of a felony of any kind, or any disqualifying misdemeanors
- Not have any DUI or DWAI offenses within five years prior to application, and no more than one such offense during their lifetime
- Be of good moral character
The first step to becoming a Denver police officer is completing an online interest form. Qualified candidates will then submit a formal application and take a self-assessment, written test, and video test. Prospective officers who move into the department’s screening phase will be invited to take a language skills test, written suitability test, polygraph exam, and an interview with a psychologist. Next, candidates must pass the physical agility test and a background investigation. Qualified candidates will have their applications reviewed by the Civil Service Commission and may be invited to a series of interviews with the department. Approved candidates will move into final testing, which includes fingerprinting, a drug screen, a medical exam, and a formal psychological exam. Once conditionally hired and approved for the city’s police training academy, new recruits will face a rigorous training program before being eligible for police service.
For more information, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our homepage and once you are ready to apply for a position, application information can be found at the Denver Police Department’s Career page.
Denver Police Academy
Once applicants have met the requirements and been conditionally hired, aspiring Denver cops will attend the Denver Police Academy. New hires enter as recruit officers and graduate as police officers 4th Grade. Entry-level recruit training runs about 27 weeks. During this time, recruits will endure intense physical and academic training. Recruits will participate in daily physical fitness training based on the CrossFit method and must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test at or above the 60th percentile at the end of the academy. The intensive schedule also focuses on academics, defensive tactical strategies, firearms training, courtroom testimony, crime scene investigations, and much more. In order to graduate from the DPD police training academy, candidates must pass the Denver POST exam. New officers then enter a three-and-a-half-month field training program to be certified as solo patrol officers.
Denver Police Department Information
The Denver Police Department is divided into six districts that cover the parameters of the city. Within those six districts, there are up to three different sectors, which consist of various precincts. All newly sworn Denver cops begin their careers as patrol officers. After earning at least 36 months of patrol experience, officers are eligible to apply for advancement. Special operations units in Denver include the Police Department Mounted Patrol, SWAT Team, Air Support Unit, and HALO (High Activity Location Observation) Program. Other career paths include robbery, missing persons, and homicide investigations.
Denver has a number of community programs that aim to connect patrol officers with the communities they serve. Programs like the Neighborhood Crime Watch are especially successful in bringing neighbors together with Denver Neighborhood Resource Officers. Additionally, in an attempt to attract recruits at an early age as well as facilitate a sense of community early on, the Denver Police Department runs a program called the Denver Police Explorers. This program is associated with the Boy Scouts of America and works with young men and women (ages 14-20) who would like to learn more about the Denver law enforcement organization.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
The average annual salary of police officers in the Denver metro area is $88,050.5 During recruit training, Denver Police Department cadets earn an annual salary of $66,227, which rises to $71,322 following graduation from the academy.6 Officers earn further annual increases until their fourth year of service, at which time officers are classified as police officer 1st Grade with an annual salary of $101,889.6 Officers can earn more based on rank, such as technician ($109,021 per year), detective/corporal ($112,077 per year), sergeant ($122,266 per year), or lieutenant ($139,587 per year).6 Benefits available to Denver police include health, dental, and vision insurance and generous sick leave and annual vacation accrual. Officers are enrolled in a defined contribution plan to save towards retirement and may also elect to participate in a 457(b) deferred compensation plan.
The outlook for law enforcement officers in the state of Colorado is bright. Projections estimate that through 2026, employment of police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the state will increase by 13%.7 For more information on current Denver law enforcement positions, take a look at our job board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Denver
An estimated 5,010 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work in the Denver metro area.5 In addition to the Denver Police Department (DPD), aspiring police can start careers in various suburban cities such as Lakewood and Aurora. The table below provides information on local police employment and crime rates.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population8||Police Dept. Total Employees9||Sworn Officers9||Civilian Staff9||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People10||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People10|
|Broomfield||Broomfield Police Department (BPD)||68,341||209||108||101||0.05||2.4|
|Denver||Denver Police Department (DPD)||716,492||1,799||1,483||316||0.64||3.5|
|Lakewood||Lakewood Police Department (LPD)||154,958||417||263||154||0.56||5.5|
|Littleton||Littleton Police Department (LPD)||47,734||95||70||25||0.1||2.7|
- Denver Fraternal Order of Police: The Denver Fraternal Order of Police is a collective bargaining unit for police working in the city and county of Denver.
- Denver Police Protective Association: The Denver Police Protective Association a labor organization and collective bargaining unit for all Denver police that offers member benefits such as legal representation and life insurance.
1. Data USA, Denver, CO: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/denver-co/
2. US News & World Report, Best Places to Live, Denver, CO: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/colorado/denver
Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19740.htm
3. The Denver Post, “As Denver Police Go on a Hiring Spree, Recruiting New Cops is More Challenging Than Ever,” 9 Nov. 2017: https://www.denverpost.com/2017/11/09/denver-police-department-recruiting/
4. City of Denver: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Police-Department/Jobs/Denver-Police-Recruitment
3. Denver Police Department: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Police-Department
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19740.htm
6. Denver Police Recruiting: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Police-Department/Jobs/Denver-Police-Recruitment/Salary-Benefits
7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
8. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045221
9. 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
10. 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