How to Become a Police Officer in Tampa
Located in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area, Tampa, Florida has many attractions and natural resources. The city has 369,075 residents and lower violent and property crime rates than the average for similarly-sized cities and the US overall.1,2 To keep the city safe, the Tampa Police Department (TPD) employs approximately 951 sworn officers and 261 civilian support staff.3 Continue reading to learn more about the application, selection, and training process required to join the Tampa Police Department.
Tampa Police Officer Requirements
The Tampa Police Department is continually recruiting for qualified officers. To join the TPD as a sworn law enforcement officer, candidates must:
- Be 21 years of age
- Be a US citizen
- Possess a valid Florida driver’s license
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Hold an associate’s degree or meet another acceptable combination of education and experience
- Not have any tattoos that would be visible wearing the standard long-sleeve uniform
- Already be certified as a law enforcement officer in Florida or be currently enrolled in a basic training program approved by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission*
*Candidates must graduate from the basic training program within 30 days of submitting their application to TPD. There is no salary or stipend given to recruits while they complete the basic training program, but the department offers 12 to 15 scholarships per year. The scholarship process opens March 1 every year.
If an applicant meets all of the above qualifications, after applying to the department he or she will have to pass a physical abilities test and undergo polygraph, psychological, and medical examinations as well as a background check. From start to finish, the TPD hiring process takes about three to six months. Accepted officers will complete four weeks of field training with the department before being assigned to patrol.
For more information about becoming a law enforcement officer in a city like Tampa, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. For more recruitiment information, visit the TPD’s recruitment page.
Tampa Police Training Academies
Uniquely for a major police department, the Tampa PD does not have a police academy and does not offer a salary or conditional hire to those who have not already completed an approved police academy training program at their own cost. Candidates interested in joining the TPD must attend a Florida Department of Law Enforcement-approved basic training program, such as those offered at Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg Junior College, or Pasco-Hernando State. Because the department does not sponsor recruits, all candidates must pay their own tuition and fees.
Tampa Police Department Information
The Tampa Police Department has three patrol districts, each with their own District Latent Investigation Squad (DLIS) (a group of plainclothes detectives), rapid offender control (ROC) officers (officers who investigate and patrol high crime areas), a crime prevention unit that works with community and business leaders, and school resource officers assigned to schools within the district. The department’s budget provides funding for patrol, operations and other specialty areas in the TPD which include the Criminal Investigations Unit, Major Crimes Bureau, and Special Support Division.
The TPD Citizen’s Police Academy provides operational and procedural information regarding the police department to citizens. Through the Academy, citizens can ride-along with police officers, interact with the K-9 team, and learn about the daily duties of cops. Applicants must submit to a criminal background check. Citizens interested in volunteering with the TPD can also apply to the Civilian Volunteers Assisting Police program.
For youth, the TPD offers organized sports, after-school care, and summer programs through the Police Athletic League (PAL). College students ages 18 and older can apply to the College Intern Program. The four-month program provides law enforcement experience to undergraduate or graduate college students and exposes them to the different units and bureaus of the department.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
Law enforcement officers with the Tampa Police Department earn a starting salary of $55,140 per year and receive vacation, sick leave, full medical benefits, paid holidays, and are enrolled in the city’s pension plan.4 With annual step increases, patrol officers can earn a base salary of up to $89,544 per year.4
Cops in the Tampa metropolitan area earn an average annual salary of $55,890.5 Projections estimate that job growth for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Florida will be 12.9% through 2026, representing an average annual increase of 528 officer jobs added to police forces statewide.6 The exact number of new law enforcement officers hired largely depends on the city’s budget and the number of police officers who retire during the year. To view open listings for police officers in Tampa, visit our jobs board page.
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission – This department sets minimum standards for basic and advanced law enforcement training in Florida.
- Tampa FOP Lodge 27 – The Tampa Fraternal Order of Police offers scholarships, tuition assistance, and other benefits to active and retired members of law enforcement in the Tampa area.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Tampa, FL: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/florida/tampa
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Tampa, FL: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/florida/tampa/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. Tampa Police Department: https://www.tampagov.net/police
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_45300.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm