How to Become a Police Officer in Raleigh
The city of Raleigh in central North Carolina has a population of over 451,000.1 Together with Durham and Chapel Hill, the area is part of a major metro. With a low unemployment rate of 4.3%, Raleigh can be a great place to live and work.1 Approximately 729 sworn officers and 146 civilian personnel work for the Raleigh Police Department (RPD).2 The process of joining the Raleigh Police Department is outlined below.
Raleigh Police Officer Requirements
The Raleigh Police Department recruits outstanding candidates to work as cops in the city. To meet the basic requirements for applying, candidates must:
- Be at least 21
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Hold US citizenship
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Demonstrate good moral character
- Have vision that is correctable to 20/20
- Reside within 60 miles of the downtown Municipal Building after being hired
- Not have any felony convictions or convictions for disqualifying misdemeanors
The first step in applying to the RPD is to fill out an online application and submit required documents such as a driving record. Based on the application, the department selects qualified candidates to take the reading comprehension test and the physical ability test. Those who pass the testing phase undergo an interview process, a polygraph examination, and a background investigation. Finally, the Chief of Police selects candidates to offer employment and these recruits move on to basic training 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 Raleigh Police Department recruiting page.
Raleigh Police Academy
Once new recruits are offered employment with the RPD they must attend and pass basic training at the Raleigh Police Academy. The program lasts between 26 and 30 weeks and is not residential, meaning that police trainees go home in the evenings and on weekends. After completing basic training, new cops must then work with a senior officer for 18 weeks of on-the-job field training. New officers then work patrol shifts for at least two to four years before becoming eligible to transfer to specialty positions within the department.
Raleigh Police Department Information
The RPD serves the capital city of North Carolina with a diverse police force that reflects its community. The RPD is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The department is organized into four divisions: Administrative Services, Detective, Field Operations, and Special Operations. Specialized units within these divisions include Drug Enforcement, Bicycle Patrol, K-9, Selective Enforcement, and Threat Assessment.
The RPD works to engage the community and to help residents of Raleigh understand more about the department and crime by working with Raleigh Community Engagement to recruit citizen volunteers. The Police Volunteer Program offers residents several ways to get involved including working at special events, patrolling parks, or working on crime prevention programs. All volunteers receive 38 hours of training through the police academy before beginning work.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
The starting salary for a police officer with the Raleigh Police Department is $34,281 per year, beginning during basic training.3 With regular step increases, patrol officers can earn a base salary of up to $52,793 per year.3 The RPD also offers many benefits to their officers. These include health insurance, a wellness center, paid vacation, sick days, and holidays. The department also offers foreign language incentive pay and tuition assistance. The North Carolina Local Government Employees’ Retirement System is a contributory retirement plan to which officers contribute 6% of their salary each pay period, tax-deferred; officers are eligible to retire with full benefits after 30 years of service.3
The average salary for law enforcement officers in Raleigh is $51,640.4 For hopeful police recruits in North Carolina, the outlook for open positions is good. Projections suggest that growth in the field of law enforcement will continue to be positive throughout North Carolina with projected growth of 9% through 2026.6 For more information on current RPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Raleigh
About 2,240 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work across the greater Raleigh metro area.4 In addition to the Raleigh Police Department, there are various suburban and rural police departments in the Raleigh area that regularly hire police. The following table outlines police employment and crime statistics for selected cities in this metro.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population6||Police Dept. Total Employees7||Sworn Officers7||Civilian Staff7||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People8||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People8|
|Cary||Cary Police Department (CPD)||168,160||223||185||38||0.9||0.98|
|Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill Police Department (CHPD)||60,988||127||104||23||0.19||2.23|
|Durham||Durham Police Department (DPD)||274,291||679||490||189||N/A||N/A|
|Raleigh||Raleigh Police Department (RPD)||469,298||875||729||146||N/A||N/A|
- North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #41: The North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #41 offers its members networking events, insurance benefits, and legal representation assistance.
- North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police: The North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police is a statewide fraternal organization for active and retired law enforcement which focuses on promoting the police profession and political advocacy.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Raleigh, North Carolina: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/north_carolina/raleigh
2. 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
3. Raleigh Police Department: https://raleighnc.gov/police
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Raleigh, NC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_39580.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