How to Become a Police Officer in Sacramento
Sacramento is a historic city, rich with culture, and home to a diverse population. Sacramento also is the capital of and sixth-largest city in California, with over 490,000 residents.1 Sacramento is patrolled and protected by a sizable police force, employing nearly 700 sworn officers as well as 269 civilians.2 The process and requirements for joining the Sacramento Police Department (SPD) as a sworn officer are outlined below.
Sacramento Police Officer Requirements
Candidates hoping to become a cop with the SPD must meet certain requirements in order to be considered. New recruits to the force must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have US citizenship
- Hold a valid California driver’s license
- Have completed at least 60 semester hours at an accredited college or university
- Have a responsible driving, credit, and employment history
- Not have any felony convictions
After submitting an application, prospective recruits who are qualified will be invited to take the SPD’s written examination. This is followed by a pre-screening questionnaire, an oral interview, and a physical agility test. Those who pass these steps will undergo an extensive background check, a polygraph examination, and an interview with a Deputy Chief. At this point, the candidate may be offered a position, but still must pass a medical exam and a psychological screening. Successful candidates will be offered conditional employment as recruits and will attend the 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 Sacramento Police Department – Hiring Process page.
Sacramento Police Academy
The Sacramento Police Academy offers basic training to new recruits and is certified by California’s Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (POST) Commission. The 23-week course provides students with 933 hours of instruction and qualifies them for POST certification and college credits from Los Rios Community College District. The academy accepts both recruits who have secured positions with the SPD and non-affiliated students who are interested in a career in law enforcement. Non-affiliated students must pay for the training and all related uniforms and equipment.
Sacramento Police Department Information
The SPD has an annual operating budget of $132.2 million.2 The department is organized into four offices: Operations, Investigations, Specialized Services, and the Office of the Chief. The Patrol Division, which is organized into four commands, is housed within the Office of Operations. Specialized patrol units include Crime Suppression Teams and Gang Enforcement Teams.
For the past few years, the Sacramento Police Department has been short-staffed, with the lowest number of uniformed officers per capita among any city of its size, with 1.32 officers per 1,000 residents.3 Causes behind the shortage include a citywide budget deficit and an officer pay rate that is lower than that offered by surrounding cities.3 However, the SPD still looks for qualified new recruits on a regular basis. The department is looking to hire over 100 officers by the end of 2019.4
Members of the Sacramento community interested in the SPD and what they do may participate in the Patrol Ride Along Program. Adults 18 and over are eligible to join the program and see what a day on the job is like. Younger residents can participate in the Criminal Justice Academy, which gives teens the chance to experience what basic training is like.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
The salary range for officers with the SPD begins at $43,742 for recruits and ranges up to a maximum of $91,503 with annual step increases.2 Salaries in the Sacramento area tend to be high because the cost of living here is 27.5% higher than the national average.1 Officers with a bachelor’s degree receive a 5% increase over their base salary.2 The SPD also offers generous benefits including health insurance, a state retirement plan, family leave, and a wellness program. Officers also have a four-day workweek, with four 10-hour shifts.
The average annual salary for law enforcement officers in Sacramento is $92,520.5 The overall growth in law enforcement jobs in California is expected to be positive. Through 2026, the field is expected to grow by 5%, which means that hopeful new candidates can expect to see an average of 350 new positions added to police forces throughout the state each year.6 For more information on current SPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
- Sacramento Police Foundation – The Sacramento Police Foundation exists to engage the community in providing support to uniformed officers while ehnancing neighborhood safety and youth programs.
- Fraternal Order of Police Sacramento County Lodge #7 – This organization provides social events for law enforcement members as well as advocacy for local law enforcement.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Sacramento, CA: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/california/sacramento
2. Sacramento Police Department: https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Police/
3. The Sacramento Bee, “Sacramento’s Police Force is One of the Nation’s Most Shortstaffed. Here’s Why,” 7 Oct. 2017: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article177482341.html
4. CBS Sacramento, “More Than 100 Vacancies Need Filled At Sacramento Police Department,” 12 Apr. 2018: https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2018/04/12/sacramento-police-department-vacancies/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Sacramento-Rosville-Arden-Arcade, CA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_40900.htm#33-0000
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm