How to Become a Police Officer in Detroit
Detroit is a great city for a cop to start his or her career. The cost of living is lower than the national average by 27% and housing costs are almost 80% lower compared to the rest of the nation.1 Detroit is the 19th-most populous city in the nation with over 713,000 residents.2 The violent crime rate in Detroit is worse than the national average at 555.7 crimes per 100,000 residents, but its property crime rate is lower.3 The Detroit Police Department employs approximately 1,700 sworn officers.4 Individuals wishing to become a part of the Detroit Police Department will find information on the application, selection and training process below.
Detroit Police Officer Requirements
The Detroit Police Department (DPD) is responsible for ensuring the public safety of the city’s residents and visitors. To join the DPD, potential law enforcement officers must:
- Be 18 years of age
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have no felony convictions
Qualified candidates who meet these requirements must first apply to the department and then register for and pass the MCOLES Pre-Employment Reading and Writing test and the MCOLES Physical Fitness Test. Next, candidates attend an applicant orientation. In the next stage, prospective cops will also have to undergo a background investigation and complete an oral board interview. Candidates still in the selection process will next complete a psychological exam and a medical exam. Successful applicants will then be offered conditional employment and a place in an upcoming police academy class.
For more information about becoming a law enforcement officer in a big city like Detroit, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. For information on the full hiring process, visit the DPD website.
Detroit Metropolitan Police Academy
All DPD recruits must attend the six-month basic training academy at the Detroit Metropolitan Police Academy. The Detroit police training academy teaches recruits skills and knowledge in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, crime scene process, investigations, and police tactics. The academy also involves physical training and conditioning. To graduate from the police academy, recruits must pass the state law enforcement licensing exam.
Detroit Police Department Information
The DPD has 12 precincts, each of which has a captain and at least one neighborhood police officer (NPO). NPOs are tasked with improving relationships with community members and businesses for non-emergency issues and problems related to the quality of life for residents in the city. DPD cops can apply to work in one of the department’s 10 specialized bureaus, which include arson, homicide, narcotics, and the violent crime task force. The department also has a bomb squad, K-9 unit and mounted patrol division.
In recent years the Detroit Police Department has had trouble recruiting and retaining new police officers. Many new recruits leave the department following graduation from Detroit’s police academy as the DPD offers lower starting salaries compared to surrounding areas.4 As a result, the department is operating some 120 officers short of its authorized strength, and is continually hiring new recruits who meet its standards.4
The Detroit Police Department follows a community policing model. The Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) program operates throughout the city with an emphasis on community-oriented policing. The DPD Police Athletics League (PAL) is a sports and mentorship program created by police officers for local youth ages four to 19. PAL builds leadership through athletic, academic, and leadership programs. Over 12,000 children from Detroit participate in sports activities offered by Detroit PAL.5 Annually, PAL certifies 1,500 men and women to mentor youth in the program.5
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Over 4,520 cops are employed in the greater Detroit metropolitan area, earning an average annual salary of $57,560.6 The starting annual salary for a DPD law enforcement officer is $37,822, with annual step increases up to a base salary of $56,543 per year.6 Officers can earn additional pay through overtime, shift differentials, and off-duty court appearances. Benefits include health insurance, paid vacation and sick time, and a retirement plan.
In the state of Michigan, the number of cops is projected to increase by 6.6% through 2026, creating an average of 122 law enforcement openings per year.7 The number of police officers recruited and hired ultimately depend on the city’s budget and priorities and the number of police officers who retire during the year. To view open listings for police officers in Detroit, visit our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Detroit
Approximately 7,280 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work in the Detroit metro area.6 The cities and towns surrounding Detroit can offer less urban, but still competitive, employment opportunities for prospective police interested in settling in the Detroit metro. The below table provides additional information on police employment and crime rates in this area.
|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|
|Canton||Canton Police Department (CPD)||91,791||119||82||37||0.17||1.1|
|Detroit||Detroit Police Department (DPD)||672,662||2,855||2,350||505||2.04||4.7|
|Dearborn||Dearborn Police Department (DPD)||94,491||246||189||57||0.37||2.95|
|Livonia||Livonia Police Department (LPD)||94,105||186||147||39||0.15||1.8|
|Sterling Heights||Sterling Heights Police Department (SHPD)||132,631||165||145||20||0.18||1.1|
|Warren||Warren Police Department (WPD)||135,022||235||196||39||0.51||2.6|
- Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards: The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) is responsible for certifying police training academies, setting standards and regulations for law enforcement officers, and administering the statewide police certification exam.
- Detroit Police Officers Association (DPOA): The DPOA advocates for the law enforcement profession and offers members insurance benefits, medical bill assistance, and more.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Detroit, MI: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/michigan/detroit
2. National League of Cities: https://www.nlc.org/
3. US News & World Report, Best Places to Live, Detroit, MI: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/michigan/detroit/crime
4. Bridge Detroit Journalism Cooperative, “Facing Police Shortage, Detroit Seeks to Stop New Cops from Jumping Ship,” 10 Apr. 2018: https://www.bridgemi.com/urban-affairs/facing-police-shortage-detroit-seeks-stop-new-cops-jumping-ship
5. City of Detroit Police Department: https://detroitmi.gov/departments/police-department
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19820.htm
7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
8. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219
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