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How to Become a Police Officer in Nashville

Nashville is the capital of, and second-largest city in, Tennessee and has a population of approximately 650,000.1 Also known as Music City, Nashville is a popular tourist destination for live music, food, and history. While the crime rate in Nashville is higher than the average nationally, it is lower than the average for similarly-sized large cities.2 The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) is responsible for keeping crime rates low and residents and visitors in the city safe, and employs approximately 1,398 sworn officers.3 For those wishing to become part of the law enforcement team in Nashville, the application, selection, and training process is detailed below.

Nashville Police Officer Requirements

To join the force of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD), new recruits must meet certain requirements. Candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years old and a US citizen
  • Have normal color vision and depth perception
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have either have completed 60 college credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.0 OR have served two years of active military duty with an honorable discharge OR have worked two years in law enforcement OR five years in another full-time job
  • Not have been convicted of any felonies

The first step in being considered for a position as a cop with the MNPD is to fill out an application that includes copies of relevant documents such as college transcripts. Once an application is approved the candidate may advance to the written and physical fitness tests. The fitness test is challenging and includes sit-ups, push-ups, a 300-meter run, and a 1.5-mile run. Those who achieve outstanding scores on the written test and pass the fitness test will then undergo a background check. Next, a structured oral interview will determine if candidates are qualified to move on to the final stages of the hiring process. Candidates who perform well will undergo a psychological assessment and medical exam, which includes a drug screen. Successful new recruits will proceed to the Nashville 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 now, find specific application information at Metropolitan Nashville Police Department – Become a Police Officer.

Chief of Police Steve Anderson has been with the MNPD for 39 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Belmont University and a law degree from the Nashville School of Law. Chief Anderson served in the United States Air Force before joining the MNPD. His previous positions in the department include teaching law at the police academy, heading the Investigative Services Bureau, and heading the Administrative Services Bureau.

Nashville Metro Police Training Academy

The Nashville Metro Training Academy for the MNPD opened at its current location in 1970. It is divided into four basic training sections: basic police training, physical fitness and wellness, in-service training, and confrontation management. Basic training for new officers lasts for 22 weeks and provides 950 hours of training.4 Following graduation, officers complete six months of further field training and are considered probationary officers. All cops on the force receive 40 hours per year of continuing in-service training from the academy.4

Nashville Police Department Information

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department is headed by the Chief of Police and divided into eight precincts: Central, East, Hermitage, Madison, Midtown Hills, North, South, and West. Each precinct is run by a Police Commander who reports directly to the Chief of Police. Following graduation from the police academy and successful completion of field training and the probationary period, most new Nashville cops start their careers in solo patrol. Opportunities for experienced officers include Special Operations, Tactical Operations, Special Investigations, and the Emergency Contingency Section.

Nashville residents who are at least 21 years old and have no arrest record may get involved with the MNPD by joining the Citizen Police Academy. Those who want to join must apply and will attend a minimum of 10 out of 12 sessions to graduate and receive a completion certificate. Concerned citizens may also contact the MNPD to find out how to organize and start a neighborhood watch.

Department Contact Information

200 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37201
(615) 862-7400
MNPD Website
MNPD Facebook
MNPD Twitter

Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook

New recruits to the MNPD earn an annual salary of $39,312 as trainees and $43,684 once training is completed.4 After completing probation and field training the salary rises to $48,384 per year with regular step increases thereafter.4 Officers who hold an associate’s degree earn 3% above the base salary, while officers who hold a bachelor’s degree earn 6% above the base salary.4 All MNPD officers receive overtime and longevity pay, health and dental insurance, and paid vacation after one year on the force. All officers also receive a 100% city-funded pension plan that is vested after 10 years of service and may elect to contribute additional savings towards retirement with a deferred compensation plan.4

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a patrol officer in the Nashville statistical area is $48,420.5 According to projections, future prospects for law enforcement officers in Tennessee are good. 7.5% growth in jobs for patrol officers is expected through 2026, which means that an average of 99 new jobs are expected to be created in the state each year.6

Additional Resources

  • Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police – The Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police offers insurance benefits, training, and networking opportunities for law enforcement members statewide.
  • Nashville Fraternal Order of Police – The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police is a political and fundraising advocate for active and retired law enforcement stationed in the Nashville metro area.

References:
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Nashville-Davidson, TN: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/tennessee/nashville-davidson
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Nashville, TN: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/tennessee/nashville/crime
3. 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
4. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department: https://www.nashville.gov/Police-Department.aspx
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_34980.htm#33-0000
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm