How to Become a Police Officer in Washington DC

Washington DC has a population of over 650,000 and is the 26th most populous city in the US.1,2 The nation’s capital has many attractions and museums that tourists and residents can enjoy. The cost of living is just over 50% higher than other cities in the US, but cops are well compensated; in 2014, they earned an average annual salary of $66,060.3,4 Law enforcement officers will find that Washington DC is an exciting place to begin a new career.

Men and women wishing to become a part of the Metropolitan Police Department will find information on the application, selection and training process below.

Metropolitan Police Officer Requirements

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC) is one of the top 10 police departments in the US.5 The Department employs more than 4,000 sworn officers and civilians.5 Cops in Washington DC will start out with an annual salary of $52,184.6 To become an MPDC law enforcement officer, candidates must:

  • Be 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have visual acuity of 20/100, corrected to 20/30
  • Be honorably discharged from the military

To satisfy the educational requirement, candidates must complete 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university, have three years of active duty service in the military, or have five years of full-time employment from a municipal or state police department in the US.

Candidates must have proportionate height and weight as determined by body fat percentage. Potential cops must pass written and physical ability tests. In addition, candidates must pass a polygraph, psychological, and medical examination.

Once hired, MPDC cops are required to remain employed as a sworn officer with the Department for two years.

For more information about becoming a law enforcement officer in a city like Washington DC, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. For more recruitiment information, visit MDP’s requirments page.

In 2007, Cathy L. Lanier was confirmed as Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department. Chief Lanier has been with the MPDC for 25 years. She has served as a Commander for the uniform patrol, major narcotics, and vehicular homicide units. Chief Lanier graduated from the FBI Academy. She also has a BA and master’s in management from Johns Hopkins University. Chief Lanier obtained a master’s in national security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Metropolitan Police Department Information

The MPDC has seven police districts and each district is divided into at least seven Police Service Areas (PSAs). The city has 56 PSAs each with assigned officers and officials. The proposed operating budget in 2014 for the MPDC was $508,767,136, a 2.5% increase from 2013.7 The MPDC has six bureaus: patrol services, homeland security, corporate support, strategic services, investigative services, and internal affairs bureau. The Department also has numerous specialized units that cops can work in, some of which include:

  • Air support unit
  • Asian liaison unit
  • Civil rights and force investigations branch
  • Deaf and hard of hearing unit
  • Financial crimes and fraud unit
  • Gay and lesbian unit
  • Harbor patrol
  • Internal affairs bureau
  • La Unidad de Enlace latino
  • Major case victims unit
  • Youth investigations branch

Metropolitan Police Training Academy

All MPDC recruits must attend the Maurice T. Turner Jr., Metropolitan Police Academy. The Academy has five branches: academic services, continuing education, specialized training, firearms, and media production brand. The Academy is a 28-week class with training on firearms and weapons use, civil disturbance, vehicle skills, and officer survival skills.8 The MPDC begins a new academy class each month.

Metropolitan Police Salary and Jobs Outlook

More than 15,000 cops are employed in the Washington DC metropolitan area and they earn an average annual salary of $66,060.4. The number of cops in Washington DC is projected to increase by 1.6% between now and 2016, equating to over 3,000 law enforcement jobs.9 The number of new police officers hired 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 Washington DC, visit our jobs board page.

More Information on the Metropolitan Police Department and Crime

The MPDC has an organized Neighborhood Watch Program for residents, businesses, clergy, and others police partners. This program aims to reduce and prevent crime by having more eyes on the street and engaged neighbors. The Department also offers a Senior Citizens Police Academy that engages seniors in community policing and also gives them tools to decrease their risk of becoming victims of crime. The Academy is a 12-week class. Seniors should visit the MPDCs website for more information or contact Yvonne Smith at (202) 727-8809 to apply.

City residents can go on a ride-along with MPDC law enforcement officers to gain a better understanding of day-to-day police operations. Participants must submit a ride-along program application and individuals under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign the juvenile release form. For more information, interested citizens can contact their local police district or Kendra Whitaker at (202) 576-6600.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DCPolice
Twitter: @DCPoliceDept

Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters
300 Indiana Ave NW
Washington DC 20001

Additional Resources

1. US Census Bureau, District of Columbia: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/11
2. National League of Cities, The 30 Most Populous Cities: http://www.nlc.org/the-30-most-populous-cities
3. Sperling’s Best Places, Washington DC: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/district_of_columbia/washington
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington DC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_47900.htm
5. Washington DC Government, Metropolitan Police Department: https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/about-mpdc
6. Washington DC Government, Metropolitian Police Department: https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/salary-and-benefits
7. District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer: http://cfo.dc.gov/budget
8. Washington DC Governement, Metropolitan Police Department, Frequently Asked Questions: https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/recruiting-division-faqs
9. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services: https://does.dc.gov/page/labor-statistics