How to Become a Police Officer in Omaha
With a population of over 440,000, Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska.1,2 Omaha encompasses 130 square miles and is served by the Omaha Police Department (OPD), which employs 884 sworn officers and 170 non-sworn staff.2 Thanks in part to the efforts of the OPD, Omaha enjoys a crime rate that is lower than the average for comparably-sized cities and the average for the US.3 The process of joining the Omaha Police Department is outlined below.
Omaha Police Officer Requirements
The Omaha Police Department (OPD) is always looking for qualified candidates to join the force. To be eligible, prospective cops must:
- Be a minimum age of 21
- Be a US citizen
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Possess a current driver’s license
- Not have any felony convictions or misdemeanor domestic violence convictions
- Not have any drunk driving convictions within two years of application
Candidates who meet the basic requirements and submit an application to the OPD may be invited to begin the hiring process, which starts with taking a written exam. Candidates who pass the exam may be invited to take a physical ability test. Top-performing candidates will be asked to continue with an oral interview with a panel of interviewers. The candidates with the highest scores from these initial stages will undergo a background investigation. Those who are not disqualified may be offered conditional employment and a place in the police 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 Omaha Police Department Employment page.
Omaha Police Department Academy
At the Omaha Police Department Academy, new recruits learn all of the skills needed to perform the job of a police officer in a large city. The coursework includes 459 hours of basic curriculum and 301 hours of advanced training for city policing over the course of 24 weeks.2 The curriculum includes training in such topics as report writing, firearms, criminal investigations, patrol tactics, and defensive tactics. After successfully completing the academy, new officers must work for 15 weeks with a veteran officer for field training.
Omaha Police Department Information
The Omaha Police Department was first formed in 1857 and has a long and storied history. The modern OPD is a large police force with an operating budget of $135.5 million.2 The department is staffed by a diverse force of law enforcement officers and civilians who are dedicated to community policing as a way to prevent crime and protect residents. New officers are typically assigned to a patrol shift and must work in patrol for three years before becoming eligible to work in a specialty position such as detective or investigator.
While even safe cities are not totally free of crime, the OPD boasts higher clearance rates (the percentage of cases solved) than the national average for many types of crime, including robbery, theft, violent crimes, and property crimes.2 The department handles an average of 665 daily calls for service.2
The Citizen’s Academy offered by the OPD to residents of Omaha gives participants the chance to get to know the department on a deeper level. The course teaches students about firearms safety, officer safety, arrest and control tactics, and many more of the day-to-day operations of the Department. Residents can also get involved and learn more by going on a Ride Along with an officer.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
The training salary for new recruits to the OPD is $46,524; after a full year of service as a sworn officer, the salary is raised to $53,330.2 Officers receive annual step increases thereafter, up to $81,632 per year after nine years of service.2 OPD benefits include health and life insurance, a college incentive program, premium pay, bilingual pay, and overtime pay. The average salary for officers in the Omaha and Council Bluffs metro area is $63,770.4
Job growth in law enforcement throughout Nebraska is expected to be positive in the future. Current predictions show employment growth at 5.7% through 2026 with an average of 17 new positions opening up each year.5 For more information on current OPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Omaha
According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 1,520 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in the Omaha area.4 There are a variety of opportunities with suburban and rural police departments for those seeking a less urban working environment than that offered by the Omaha PD. The table below compares selected cities in the area on police employment and crime rates.
|Police Dept. Total Employees7
|Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People8
|Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People8
|Council Bluffs (IA)
|Council Bluffs Police Department (CBPD)
|Bellevue Police Department (BPD)
|Fremont Police Department (FPD)
|Omaha Police Department (OPD)
|Papillion Police Department (PPD)
- Nebraska Fraternal Order of Police: The Nebraska Fraternal Order of Police is a social membership organization that provides networking and support benefits to local law enforcement.
- Omaha Police Officers Association: The Omaha Police Officers Association is the bargaining unit for local cops and also organizes regular community events.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Omaha, Nebraska: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/nebraska/omaha
2. Omaha Police Department: https://police.cityofomaha.org/
3. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Omaha, NE: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/nebraska/omaha/crime
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_36540.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