How to Become a Police Officer in Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is a top tourist destination and major city with over 452,000 residents, making it the largest city in Virginia.1 Virginia Beach has a violent crime rate that is higher than average for similarly-sized cities, though lower than average for the US, and a property crime rate that is higher than average by both measures.2 At the same time, its crime rate for all crimes together is lower than the average found in similar metros.3 To keep crime at bay, the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) employs over 800 sworn officers as well as over 130 civilian staff.3 The procedure for becoming a police officer with the VBPD is outlined below.
Virginia Beach Police Officer Requirements
The Virginia Beach Police Department accepts applications from prospective officer recruits during open recruiting periods. To qualify for a position as a cop on the Virginia Beach force, a candidate must:
- Be at least 20 years old to apply and 21 at the time that training is completed
- Have US citizenship
- Have or be eligible for a valid Virginia or North Carolina driver’s license
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
- Not have any felony convictions or convictions for disqualifying misdemeanors
The first step in the process of becoming an officer with the VBPD is to apply online and complete a personal history questionnaire. Candidates who qualify may be invited to take a written test consisting of multiple-choice questions, followed by a physical fitness test. Recruits who pass these tests with adequate scores may then undergo a background investigation, an interview, a polygraph examination, and psychological and medical examinations. Candidates who successfully pass through all stages may be offered conditional employment as recruits and an assignment to an upcoming 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 Virginia Beach Police Department Employment page.
Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Academy
Once hired by the VBPD, new recruits must pass the 26-week basic training course at the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Academy. The training academy is a large and state-of-the-art facility which prepares new cops to be certified as sworn officers and meet the policing needs of the Virginia Beach community. Academy classes are offered twice per year. The curriculum includes instruction in such areas as criminal investigation, report writing, firearms, and defensive driving. To graduate, recruits must maintain an academic average of 85% on all tests throughout the academy. After graduation, officers will complete an additional 16 weeks of field training with a training officer. In addition to basic training, the academy offers in-service training to law enforcement officers with the VPBD and other nearby agencies.
Virginia Beach Police Department Information
The Virginia Beach Police Department is the largest city law enforcement agency in Virginia and is divided into four large precincts.3 In 2017, the department answered 173,602 calls for service.3 A notable division within the VBPD given its beach along the Atlantic Ocean and 80 miles of waterways is the Special Operations Marine Patrol, which includes the Police Dive Team. The department also maintains a Helicopter Unit, Mounted Patrol Unit, and Bomb Squad.
The VBPD encourages members of the community to get involved with the Department and learn more about the role that law enforcement plays in the city. Residents can do that by applying to go on a Ride Along, during which they get to see what officers do each day. Residents can also choose to participate in the Citizens Police Academy, which meets once a week for several weeks and gives participants a more in-depth look at what the VBPD does.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
During academy training, new VBPD recruits earn a salary of $42,723, which rises to $44,886 after graduation.3 With annual step increases, patrol officers can earn a maximum base salary of $63,398 per year.3 Officers have the opportunity to advance to master police officer status after six years on the force; this comes with added responsibilities and a 10% pay increase with the potential to earn a base salary of up to $77,230 per year.3 Other benefits include generous paid time off, opportunities to earn overtime, and a retirement plan.
The average salary for police in the greater Virginia Beach metro area is $52,770 per year.4 Growth in police officer positions throughout Virginia is expected to be positive over the coming years; through 2026, growth is projected to be 9.4%.5 For more information on current VBPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our police jobs board.
- Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association – The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association offers professional benefits and support to local police members including financial assistance, counseling, and education and training.
- The Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia State Lodge – The Fraternal Order of Police Virginia State Lodge advocates for the police profession and offers members insurance plans, legal defense plans, and more.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Virginia Beach, VA: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/virginia/virginia_beach
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, Virginia Beach, VA: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/virginia/virginia-beach/crime
3. Virginia Beach Police Department: https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/police/Pages/default.aspx
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_47260.htm#33-0000
5. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm