How to Become a Police Officer in Louisville
Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, is home to over 600,000 residents.1 The cost of living in Louisville is about 4% below the national average, but the city’s crime rate is above the average for similarly-sized cities.1,2 However, the rate of violent crimes went down between 2017 and 2018, thanks to the efforts of the estimated 1,250 sworn officers working for the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).3 In order to continue to reduce crime rates, the LMPD is continually recruiting for qualified officers to join the force. The process for becoming a Louisville police officer is detailed below.
Louisville Police Officer Requirements
To become a sworn law enforcement officer with the LMPD, candidates must first meet the department’s minimum requirements and then proceed through the application steps. In order to apply, a candidate must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a US citizen
- Have a high school diploma or a GED
- Have not used, possessed, bought or sold marijuana within three years, or any other controlled substance or narcotic within six years, of the date of application
- Have fewer than nine points on their license for traffic violations
- Have no felony convictions
Hopeful recruits who are qualified to work for the LMPD may fill out an online application to get started. Recruits must then take the physical agility test and the written exam. The written exam includes situational questions based on police work as well as an evaluation of reading comprehension, reasoning ability, and communication skills. Those who pass may be selected to be interviewed by a panel. Candidates selected then undergo a background investigation, polygraph examination, and medical and psychological examinations before being offered conditional employment and being sent to the Louisville Metro Police Training Academy.
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, find specific application information on the Louisville Metro Police Department – Become an Officer page.
Louisville Metro Police Training Academy
New LMPD police recruits must complete basic training at the Louisville Metro Police Training Academy before becoming full-time, sworn officers. The academy basic training lasts 24 weeks and provides new recruits with over 1,000 hours of instruction on patrol operations, investigative procedures, self-defense, firearms, traffic stops, and many other necessary skill areas. Once police academy training is completed, a new officer must then spend 24 weeks in field training, during which time they will work with three different senior officers on three different shifts for eight weeks each. Officers who perform well will complete an additional 28 weeks as a probationary officer before being offered permanent employment.
Louisville Metro Police Department Information
The LMPD is a large police force that was formed in 2003 when the Louisville Police Department merged with the Jefferson County Police Department. The purpose of the merger was to make the combined department more efficient and to focus resources within the police districts. The merger ensured that each district had the resources necessary to protect residents and investigate and prevent crime.
LMPD officers typically start their careers with an assignment to one of the LMPD’s ten patrol divisions. Some specialty assignments are housed within the patrol districts, such as major case squads and street crimes units. After earning experience in patrol, officers who qualify may apply to divisional specialty units including the Major Crimes Division, the Narcotics Division, the Special Investigations Division, and the Special Operations Division.
Residents of the Louisville metro area can get involved with the LMPD by attending one of its Citizen Police Academies. The LMPD runs a Citizens Police Academy, a Latino Citizens Police Academy, and a Youth Citizen Police Academy to better connect with the different communities and populations that it serves. The LMPD also runs volunteer opportunities through which volunteers can assist the department with a variety of tasks including event staffing, administrative assistance, and participating in citizen advisory committees.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Louisville recruits earn a starting salary of $37,460 while in the police academy, which rises to a base salary of $39,185 following graduation.4 With a current state incentive, clothing allowances, and equipment allowances, the starting salary after an officer’s swearing-in is $45,585 per year.4 Further increases are awarded each one to two years depending on an officer’s performance and review schedule. LMPD benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance, paid leave, and tuition reimbursement. All officers are also eligible to participate in a hybrid pension plan through the Kentucky Retirement Systems County Employees Retirement System (CERS). The average salary for a patrol officer in Louisville was $51,370 as of 2017.5
Long-term projections suggest that law enforcement positions in Kentucky will be increasing in the future. The projected growth between now and 2026 is 6.6%.6 For more information on current LMPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Louisville
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, there are about 2,640 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in the greater Louisville metro.5 Aspiring police interested in careers in this area can find opportunities with urban departments like the Louisville Metro Police Department as well as suburban and rural PDs. The below table compares police employment and crime rates for selected cities in the Louisville area.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population7||Police Dept. Total Employees3,8||Sworn Officers3,8||Civilian Staff8||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People9||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People9|
|Elizabethtown||Elizabethtown Police Department (EPD)||30,023||N/A||N/A||N/A||0.23||1.59|
|Frankfort||Frankfort Police Department (FPD)||27,621||59||56||3||0.38||3.96|
|Louisville||Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD)||620,118||N/A||1,250||N/A||0.75||4.88|
|Radcliff||Radcliff Police Department (RPD)||22,576||49||35||14||0.34||2.71|
|Shelbyville||Shelbyville Police Department (SPD)||15,872||N/A||N/A||N/A||0.06||1.39|
- River City Fraternal Order of Police: The River City Fraternal Order of Police is the collective bargaining unit for Louisville and Jefferson County police officers.
- Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police: The Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police is the state-level fraternal organization for Kentucky law enforcement officers and offers tuition assistance, insurance and banking services, and networking events for its members.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Louisville, KY: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/kentucky/louisville
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Louisville, KY: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/kentucky/louisville/crime
3. The Courier Journal, “Louisville Has About 50 Fewer Cops on Patrol but Violent Crime is Down,” 31 May 2018: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/metro-government/2018/05/31/louisville-fewer-cops-violent-crime-down/654776002/
4. Louisville Metro Police Department: https://louisville-police.org/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_31140.htm#33-0000
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