How to Become a Police Officer in Fresno
Fresno is one of the largest cities in California with a population of over 522,000.1 Despite recent decreases in the crime rate, Fresno has a higher crime rate than similarly-sized cities, with 612.3 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 3,253.6 property crimes per 100,000 people.2 The Fresno Police Department (FPD) provides the city with safety and crime prevention, employing approximately 761 sworn officers.3 The process for becoming a cop with the FPD is outlined below.
Fresno Police Officer Requirements
To join the Fresno Police Department’s force of dedicated officers, new recruits must meet stringent requirements. New recruits must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a citizen of the US
- Have a high school diploma or a GED
- Have a valid California driver’s license
- Be of good moral character
- Have no felony convictions; felony arrests, even without conviction, may be cause for disqualification
The process for being considered for a position with the FPD includes taking a written examination, going through oral interviews, and undergoing medical, psychological, and polygraph examinations. Candidates are also subjected to a thorough background investigation. Candidates must also complete a police basic training academy at one of the schools in the state that is certified by the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) commission.
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.
Fresno Police Department Regional Training Center
All new recruits to the FPD must complete a POST-certified basic training program. New recruits typically attend basic training at the Fresno Police Department Regional Training Center. The six-month academy is intensive and requires attendance Monday through Friday for nine hours a day; weekend and evening hours may also be required. The state-of-the-art academy grounds includes a high-speed driving course, driving and use of force simulators, and seven firearms ranges. While attending the academy, recruits complete physical training and conditioning as well as academic work in the law and legal procedure, police tactics, diversity, and more.
Fresno Police Department Information
The Fresno Police Department is divided into four major divisions: support, investigations, patrol, and administrative. Specialized units such as narcotics, street violence, and homicide are mostly housed within the investigations division. Newly-sworn officers are typically assigned to the patrol division and will work as patrol officers for the first few years of their careers. Assignment to specialized units typically requires substantial patrol experience. For example, to apply to the SWAT team exam process, officers must have at least four years of uniformed police experience.4
The FPD invites Fresno residents to learn more about what they do by joining the Citizen’s Police Academy. The course includes classroom work as well as tours of police facilities and hands-on experiences. Citizens may also join the department as volunteers through the Volunteers In Police Service (VIPs) program. Together, these two programs help educate the public about the work the FPD does every day and helps to establish positive relationships between officers and residents.
The FPD often hires new recruits with no prior law enforcement experience for the position of police cadet. As a cadet, new recruits work in low-priority, non-emergency situations in district offices and in the field before attending basic training and being promoted to the position of officer.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
The base salary for police officers in Fresno is $4,707 per month plus incentives; at the top step of the experience ladder, police officers can earn over $100,000 per year.4 In addition to a generous salary, Fresno officers are offered many benefits. These include health insurance, paid overtime, sick and vacation leave, 13 holidays off, and opportunities for extra pay for hazard time, special duty, training, and being bilingual. The FPD also offers a retirement program through the City of Fresno Retirement System; officers are typically eligible to retire after 10 years of service and after reaching the age of 50. The average annual salary for a cop in Fresno is $74,630.5
In 2017, the FPD hired 91 new police officers.4 However, due to resignations and retirements, the FPD is under its budgeted and authorized force; this may indicate increased hiring opportunities for potential cops in the coming years.3 The job outlook for law enforcement jobs across California overall is positive. From now through 2026 the field is expected to grow by 5%, which equates to an average of 350 new positions opening up every year.6 For more information on current FPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
- Fresno Police Officers’ Association – The Fresno Police Officers’ Association works to improve conditions for working officers and also offers support programs for officers’ families.
- Fraternal Order of Police California State Lodge – The Fraternal Order of Police California State Lodge promotes continuing professional development and acts as an advocate for officers.
1. Data USA, Fresno, CA: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/fresno-ca/
2. US News, Best Places to Live, Fresno, CA: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/california/fresno/crime
3. The Fresno Bee, “Fresno Leaders Promise More Officers, but Can Police Department Deliver?,” 25 June 2017: https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article157999234.html
4. Fresno Police Department: https://www.fresno.gov/police/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Fresno, CA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_23420.htm#33-0000
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm