How to Become a Police Officer in Memphis
Memphis is a great city for a cop to begin a career. Memphis is an affordable city to live in, with a cost of living 17% cheaper than the average city in the US.1 The city has population of over 655,000 and growing.1 However, Memphis also has a much higher crime rate than similar metro areas, with an average 1,106 violent crimes and 3,922 property crimes per 100,000 residents.2 To combat rising crime, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) employs approximately 2,100 sworn personnel.3 Men and women wishing to become a part of the Memphis Police Department will find information on the application, selection, and training process below.
Memphis Police Officer Requirements
The Memphis Police Department is continually recruiting for competitive applicants. To join the MPD, potential law enforcement officers must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a US citizen
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Have at least 54 credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university OR five years of responsible work history and earn an associate’s degree within four years of hire OR two years of continuous active military service with an honorable discharge
- Have no guilty pleas or convictions on disqualifying misdemeanors or felonies
Candidates who meet the minimum requirements stated above may apply to the department. Qualified candidates will be contacted to take a physical assessment test and a written exam that tests basic knowledge. Candidates invited to the next stage of the hiring process must also pass a behavioral interview, psychological exam, and a medical assessment, as well as a thorough background check. Top applicants will be invited to recruit training at the Memphis Police Training Academy.
For more information about becoming a law enforcement officer in a big city, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. For more recruitment information, visit the MPD application page.
Memphis Police Training Academy
All recruits must attend the 21-week Memphis Police Training Academy. The academy is located at the John D. Holt Training Facility. Basic training for MPD recruits will include physical training, instructional classes, and firearms use and handling. Instructional topics include criminal law, report writing, principles of investigation, defensive tactics, police vehicle operations, and firearms training. After graduating from the academy, newly-sworn officers will work as probationary police officers for one year under the supervision of a field training officer.
Memphis Police Department Information
The Memphis Police Department has five divisions: administrative, investigative services, uniform patrol I and II, special operations, and information technology. For patrol, the MPD has nine precincts across the city. Each precinct is broken down into wards where police patrol. After earning patrol experience during the probationary period, law enforcement officers can apply to work in specialized crime prevention and investigation units including harbor patrol, the bomb unit, homeland security, and air support.
The MPD has several community programs, including Neighborhood Watch and National Night Out, and hosts regular events across the city to increase community awareness about cops. The department offers a Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA) to provide community members with a better understanding of police operations. The Citizens’ Police Academy is a nine-week course designed to familiarize citizens with police policies and the daily duties of cops that also aims to help participants reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime. While in the CPA, participants may ride-along with active police officers. The CPA also teaches citizens how to file a police report. One of the CPA’s supporting goals is to enable more citizens to serve as liaisons between the community and the MPD.
The Clergy Police Academy (CLPA) was developed in response to a meeting with the police director and local ministers in the city. The CPLA is a five-week training academy that exposes members of the faith-based community to law enforcement problems that directly affect clergy members and their parishioners.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Memphis police recruits earn an annual salary of $40,194, which rises to $43,008 following academy graduation and through the probationary year.3 After one year of service, the salary rises to $47,814, with regular periodic increases thereafter.3 Officers who hold a bachelor’s degree qualify for a 7.5% incentive over their base salary after the probationary period and throughout their time of service.3 All officers receive health and life insurance benefits and generous paid time off. After 25 years of service, officers are eligible for retirement through the city’s hybrid pension/401(a) defined contribution plan.
Nearly 3,500 cops are employed in the Memphis metropolitan area, earning an average annual salary of $49,860.4 The number of cops in Tennessee is projected to increase by 7.5% through 2026, creating an average of 99 annual new openings in addition to replacement hires.5 The exact number of police officers recruited and hired depends 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 Memphis, visit our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Memphis
There are an estimated 3,540 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in the greater Memphis area.4 While the Memphis Police Department (MPD) is the largest local employer of police, aspiring cops can also find opportunities with local suburbs and more rural towns. The below table provides an outline of police employment and crime statistics in the Memphis area.
|Police Dept. Total Employees7
|Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People8
|Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People8
|Collierville Police Department (CPD)
|Germantown Police Department (GPD)
|Memphis Police Department (MPD)
- Tennessee Peace Officer Standards Training Commission (POST): The Tennessee POST is responsible for setting standards for law enforcement officer requirements and training across the state and also offers advanced law enforcement training and certifications.
- Shelby County Metro Fraternal Order of Police: The Shelby County Metro Fraternal Order of Police serves officers both active and retired across the greater Memphis metro area with union bargaining services as well as social events.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Memphis, TN: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/tennessee/memphis
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Memphis, TN: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/tennessee/memphis/crime
3. Memphis Police Department: https://memphispolice.org/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Memphis, TN: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_32820.htm#33-0000
5. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
6. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045221
7. 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
8. 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