How to Become a Police Officer in Portland
With a population of over 632,000 and a recent growth rate of 45%, Portland is quickly becoming a major city and tourist destination.1 Despite its growth, Portland is a safe city, with a violent crime rate below the average for the US and similarly-sized metros.2 The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is charged with combating crime both through prevention and investigation. The department employs approximately 948 sworn and 251 non-sworn personnel and is the largest police department in Oregon.3,4 For those wishing to become part of the law enforcement team in Portland, the application, selection, and training process is detailed below.
Portland Police Officer Requirements
The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is always looking for the right men and women to join the force. At a minimum, candidates must:
- Be 21 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have 60 credit hours of college coursework, or have served two years of active military duty, or have worked for two years in law enforcement for another agency
- Have or be eligible for an Oregon driver’s license and have a good driving record
- Have good moral character
- Not have any felony convictions or convictions for controlled substances or domestic violence
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military, if a veteran
To begin the process of being considered for the PPB, new recruits must take a written test through the National Testing Network. After taking the exam, candidates may apply to the department. Next, candidates submit a personal history statement; well-qualified candidates will be invited to interview with a department panel. Candidates moving forward in the process will then take a physical abilities test, undergo a background investigation, and be medically and psychologically evaluated. Each step must be passed before the candidate can move on to the next step. Those who are successful in the application process will be offered a position within the PPB and will move on to basic 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 now, find specific application information on the Portland Police Bureau recruiting site.
Portland Police Basic Academy
New recruits to the PPB must attend basic training at the Portland Police Basic Academy. The basic training course lasts for 16 weeks and is followed by 12 weeks of additional work at Portland’s Advanced Academy. Following graduation from the Advanced Academy, officers enter the 18-month Field Training and Evaluation Program (FTEP), which provides on-the-job training under the supervision and guidance of at least four different experienced officers. A unique part of this program is specific training in alternatives to incarceration for youth, which gives recruits familiarity with youth crime issues, assistance programs, and the youth services system. During training, officers will also work various rotating shifts to become familiar with the issues each shift typically faces.
Portland Police Bureau Information
The Portland Police Bureau is a diverse force dedicated to the protection of residents, the reduction of crime, and commitment to the community. In addition to patrol districts, the department maintains several specialty units to better serve the population of the city. These include a behavioral health unit, bike theft task force, a canine unit, a family services division, a human trafficking task force, and more. After working for four-and-a-half years as an officer, PPB cops are eligible to sit for promotional exams to become a sergeant, detective, or criminalist.
The PPB is currently facing a shortage of officers and recently amended its hiring policies; the department will consider non-US citizens who have permanent residency as well as recent marijuana users who otherwise meet the department’s standard qualifications.4 The department is offering generous incentives to attract qualified applicants, including $2,500 in relocation assistance and up to $6,000 in hiring bonuses.5
The Portland Police Bureau is dedicated to working with the community and has several opportunities for residents to get involved and learn more about the PPB. Programs include ride-alongs, geocaching, food drives, and more. Young men and women may join the Cadet Program for hands-on training and mentorship. Residents can also contact the PPB for information on starting and leading a neighborhood watch program.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Entry-level cops in Portland begin with an annual salary of $64,409.5 An education premium of 2% is offered to police with a bachelor’s degree.5 All officers receive health and life insurance as well as generous annual leave. In addition, PPB cops participate in the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan Pension Program (OPSRP), which is designed to pay retired cops approximately 45% of their final average salary after 25 years of service.5
The average annual salary for police officers in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro statistical area is $73,400.6 Law enforcement opportunities in Oregon are expected to grow in the coming years. Through 2026, positions are expected to increase by 7% with an average of 36 new jobs created each year.7 For more information on available jobs, see our police jobs board.
Cities and Police Departments Near Portland
About 2,590 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work in the Portland metro area according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.6 In addition to opportunities with the urban Portland Police Department, prospective officers can find careers with several local suburban and rural police departments. The below table outlines police employment and crime statistics for selected area cities.
|Police Dept. Total Employees9
|Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People10
|Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People10
|Beaverton Police Department (BPD)
|Gresham Police Department (GPD)
|Hillsboro Police Department (HPD)
|Portland Police Department (PPD)
|Tigard Police Department (TPD)
|Vancouver Police Department (VPD)
- Oregon Fraternal Order of Police: The Oregon Fraternal Order of Police is a statewide organization that provides advocacy and public education for the police profession.
- Fraternal Order of Police, Willamette Valley: The Fraternal Order of Police, Willamette Valley is the local lodge for Portland area police and provides insurance benefits, political advocacy, and more to its members.
- Portland Police Association: The Portland Police Association is the bargaining unit for law enforcement officers in Portland.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Portland, OR: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/oregon/portland
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Portland, OR: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/oregon/portland/crime
3. Portland Police Bureau: https://www.portland.gov/police
4. The Portland Press-Herald, “Portland Police Open Officer Jobs to Non-citizens, Recent Pot Users,” 21 Mar. 2018: https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/21/portland-police-to-consider-hiring-non-citizens-recent-marijuana-users-to-boost-recruitment/
5. Portland Police Bureau Recruiting: https://www.joinportlandpolice.com/
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38900.htm#33-0000
7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
8. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045221
9. 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
10. 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