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How to Become a Police Officer in Jacksonville

Jacksonville is a growing city with a population of about 868,000.1 Residents of Jacksonville can enjoy the city’s white sandy beaches and low cost of living, which is 8% less than the national average.1 Jacksonville’s crime rate is higher than similarly-sized metro areas, with 478.9 violent crimes and 2,894.3 property crimes per 100,000 people.2 The consolidated Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) is the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city and is continually seeking to reduce crime rates and keep residents safe. The JSO employs over 1,000 sworn police officers to accomplish these aims.3 Aspiring police officers will find that the city is a great place to start their careers. Men and women who wish to join the ranks of law enforcement in Jacksonville should continue reading for the application, selection, and training process.

Jacksonville Police Officer Requirements

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department seems to employ top-quality officers who uphold the highest professional standards and believe in fostering partnerships with citizens. To become a JSO police officer, hopeful recruits must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid Florida driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Meet education and experience requirements
  • Be able to run a mile in less than 12 minutes
  • Have no tattoos above the collarbone or below the wrist
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no misdemeanors involving domestic violence, perjury, or false statement
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military

There are several ways in which an aspiring cop can satisfy the JSO’s education and experience requirements. In addition to a high school diploma or GED, candidates must have either college or military experience or a combination thereof. Typical routes to qualify include a bachelor’s degree, OR four years of active military service or full-time law enforcement experience, OR 90 semester credit hours plus two years of active military or full-time law enforcement experience. Candidates with military experience or some college credits are generally preferred.

Applicants who meet these criteria must first take the Florida Criminal Justice Basic Abilities Test (CJBAT LEO) and then formally apply to the department. Qualified applicants will take a writing skills test and polygram exam. Next, passing applicants will undergo a background investigation and complete an oral board interview. Hopeful cops who make it to the next stage will take medical and stress tests, a drug screen, and a psychological examination. After an evaluation by the JSO Administrative Review Board, successful recruits will be conditionally hired and scheduled for an upcoming police academy class.

For additional information about how to become a cop in a typical city, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page.

Sheriff Mike Williams is the top cop in Jacksonville, Florida. Sheriff Williams began his career with the JSO in 1991 as a patrol officer and previously worked as the department’s Director of Investigations and Homeland Security and later as Director of Patrol and Enforcement after earning his way up the ranks. His major initiatives as sheriff are reducing violent crime, driving efficiencies, and improving citizen engagement.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Police Academy

Police recruits for the JSO must attend basic training at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Police Academy. At the academy, law enforcement recruits will be trained in driving, defensive tactics, crisis intervention, firearms and electronic control weapons, and medical first responder training. Intensive physical conditioning based on the CrossFit program is included in the curriculum; recruits should begin a conditioning program that focuses on stamina before reporting to the academy. A typical training class for non-certified officers runs for 12 months. Recruits must maintain an 80% pass rate throughout the program in order to graduate and must also pass the Florida police certification exam with a grade of 80% or better to become sworn officers.5

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Information

The City of Jacksonville Police Department and Duval County Road Patrol consolidated in 1968 to create the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. This consolidated office logged 805,754 police-citizen interactions, 484,162 dispatched calls, and 36,994 arrests in 2017.3 Police officers patrol the city’s six zones, reporting to a substation located within each zone. In addition to patrol, the JSO has several special assignments for police. These include the canine, emergency preparedness, SWAT, and bomb squad units.

The JSO promotes community involvement and has several ways for citizens to get involved and for hopeful cops to learn more about their office. Youth can get involved in the city’s police explorer’s program, which educates and involves youth in police operations and general law enforcement information. Youth who participate can compete with police explorers in other cities in friendly, organized challenges. The JSO’s Sheriff’s Advisory Council is a group of citizens and law enforcement officers who work together to address public safety issues in each of the six zones of the city. The JSO has two Citizen’s Police Academy classes per year. The 12-week class provides citizens with an opportunity to learn how agency divisions work.

“I think the more citizens that could take this class the better. The police ARE the FENCE between law-abiding citizens and the criminal element. I believe that if the law-abiding citizens of our city and the police would work hand-in-hand with trust in one another, Jacksonville could be one of the safest cities in the country.” -Don and Debbie Choate, Citizen’s Academy graduates.

Men and women wishing to become cops in Jacksonville should take advantage of the JSO’s Ride Along program to see what the life of an officer is like on a day-to-day basis. To schedule a ride-along, individuals must be at least 16 years of age. If under 18, the participant must have written consent from a parent or legal guardian (notarized). To schedule a ride-along, contact JSO’s Public Information Office at 904-630-2133.

Department Contact Information

501 E Bay St
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 630-7600
JSO Website
JSO Facebook
JSO Twitter

Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook

The starting base salary for police officers in Jacksonville is $38,592 per year.4 After graduation from the police academy and field training program, Jacksonville cops’ salaries increase to $40,622; police officers are eligible for further annual increases up to a maximum of $66,528 per year.4 On average, police in Jacksonville earn $51,610 per year.5 Benefits for Jacksonville police include annual leave and paid holidays, medical insurance, take-home vehicles, and a patrol schedule of 15 work days per month.4 The City of Jacksonville pension plan allows officers to contribute 10% of their salary with a 25% match from the city.4

The number of law enforcement officers in Florida is projected to increase by 12.9% through 2026, with about 528 new jobs created per year on average.6 With police officer employment on the rise and the number of retirements increasing, Jacksonville would be a great place for an aspiring cop to start a career. As hopeful cops apply, it’s good to keep in mind that employment for police officers is tied to local budgets. For more information on current JSO law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.

Additional Resources

  • Florida Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission – The Florida Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission is charged with ensuring that law enforcement officers across the state of Florida are well-qualified by setting minimum standards and testing and certification requirements.
  • Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police – The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police represents over 3,000 active and retired law enforcement officers and promotes the welfare and advancement of its members.

References:
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Jacksonville, FL: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/florida/jacksonville
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Jacksonville, FL: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/florida/jacksonville/crime
3. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office: http://www.coj.net/departments/sheriffs-office/
4. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Recruiting: http://www.joinjso.com/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Jacksonville, Florida: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_27260.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm