How to Become a Police Officer in Phoenix
Over 1.5 million people live in Phoenix, Arizona, making it the fifth-largest city in the US.1 A higher population is often linked to higher crime rates, which often creates the need for more law enforcement in a city. However, the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) has worked to keep crime down, and the city boasts crime rates that are lower than the average for similarly-sized cities.2 To accomplish its mission, the PPD employs over 2,700 sworn officers and nearly 1,000 civilian support staff.3 The process for becoming a Phoenix police officer is detailed below.
Phoenix Police Officer Requirements
Prospective police officers for the Phoenix Police Department must meet a number of requirements, and the selection process can be lengthy as well as competitive. To become a cop at the PPD, candidates must:
- Be at least 20.5 years old at the time of application and reach the age of 21 prior to completing academy training
- Be a US citizen
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have 20/20 vision or uncorrected vision of at least 20/80 correctable to 20/20
- Have an honorable discharge, if a military veteran
- Have an acceptable driving, employment, and credit history
- Not have any felony convictions
Interested candidates must first submit an online application and register for and take a written exam. Qualified candidates will next complete a background investigation and interview, followed by a polygraph exam. Candidates selected to continue in the process will be scheduled for a physical agility test, the Peace Officer Physical Aptitude Test (POPAT). Next, candidates will undergo a psychological evaluation, a medical examination, and a drug test. Candidates selected from this process will be appointed a place in an upcoming police academy for training.
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 Phoenix Police Department Application Process page.
Phoenix Police Training Academy
Candidates who enter the Phoenix Police Training Academy as officer recruits are paid employees of the PPD. Recruits are not required to live at the academy, nor do they have to pay for the training. Prospective cops attend classes Monday through Friday, for 8.5 hours each day. The academy lasts for 20 weeks. Once a candidate successfully graduates from the academy, he or she is promoted to the rank of police officer. New officers then complete field training designed to familiarize them with the PPD’s specific procedures and equipment.
Phoenix Police Department Information
The Phoenix Police Department is divided into seven precincts, and within those, 19 squad districts, which are further divided into patrol beats. The department also has specialty divisions including Cold Case-Homicide, the Gun Enforcement and Intelligence Squad, and the Violent Crimes Bureau. Most PPD officers begin their careers in patrol to earn the experience required to work in specialized assignments. To qualify for promotion to sergeant, officers must have four years of service with the PPD and a bachelor’s degree.4
The PPD is dedicated to serving the people of Phoenix with a focus on community engagement. The department continually works to earn the trust and respect of Phoenix residents through its community policing efforts, which include teams to support outreach and community participation. The Phoenix Police Department also offers a Citizen Police Academy for citizens of Phoenix who would like to learn what cops at the PPD do and how they protect the city against crime. Other community programs include Block Watch, Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol, COPS Volunteers, and Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods (GAIN).
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Officer recruits entering the police academy can expect an annual salary of $47,798, which is raised to $51,480 following academy graduation.4 The PPD offers a unique career enhancement pay program that is based on points earned through training, skills, experience, and education throughout an officer’s career; earning 30 points leads to an increase of $1,903 per year, up to a maximum of 90 points for an increase of $7,612 per year.4 Police officers at the PPD can also expect to see benefits in addition to their annual salaries, including incentive pay for bilingual ability and years of service, an education reimbursement, as well as paid vacation and personal leave. The PPD also offers a retirement plan.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cops in the Phoenix metro area earn an average salary of $69,370.2 Employment opportunities for cops in Arizona appear promising. Long-term, law enforcement jobs in the state are expected to increase by 6.9%, meaning that an average of about 60 new patrol officer jobs are expected each year through 2026.3
For more information on current PPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our police jobs board.
- Arizona Fraternal Order of Police – The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police advocates for the police profession and organizes networking, social, and charity events throughout the year.
- Phoenix Law Enforcement Association – The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association provides legal representation, legislative advocacy, and other benefits to Phoenix area police.
- Arizona Police Association – The Arizona Police Association is a state-level advocate for law enforcement, acting in the arenas of politics and labor relations.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Phoenix, AZ: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/arizona/phoenix
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Phoenix, AZ: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/arizona/phoenix/crime
3. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City, 2016: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
4. Phoenix Police Department: https://www.phoenix.gov/police
5. Bureau of Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38060.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm