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How to Become a Police Officer in Maine

Since the year 2000, Maine has seen conservative but steady population growth of 4.25%.1 As the population of Maine’s cities and towns grows, so does its need for law enforcement officers. As the state’s unemployment rate of 4.7% is well below the US average, those who wish to become a police officer in Maine have positive job prospects.2 Though all prospective police officers in Maine must complete the Basic Law Enforcement Training Program (BLETP) at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, requirements for incoming officers vary by jurisdiction. This page will guide those interested in learning how to become a police officer in Maine through the requirements for major departments within the state.

Maine Police Officer Requirements

The Maine state legislature has entrusted the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA) with setting minimum standards for training municipal and county police officers throughout the state. As passing the MCJA’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Program (BLETP) is a requirement for all prospective officers in the state, the minimum qualifications for entering the BLETP serve as minimum qualifications for becoming a Maine law enforcement officer.

The BLETP is a three-phase program. Prospective officers may take Phase I of the program as tuition-paying students if they do not have a conditional employment offer from a Maine law enforcement agency. However, to complete all three phases of the program candidates must meet certain requirements.

Nationality, Age and Education

In order to become a certified Maine police officer, candidates must:

  • Be legally authorized to work in the US
  • Be at least 21 years of age, or be 20 years of age with 60 credit hours of postsecondary education
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED

Required Examinations

The path to becoming a Maine law enforcement officer involves rigorous academic and physical testing. Pre-employment exams include:

  • A reading and writing test
  • A physical fitness exam administered by a licensed physician

Background Clearance

Law enforcement officers are expected to protect and serve the public while upholding the highest moral standards. To ensure that recruits have impeccable backgrounds, law enforcement agencies in Maine require candidate officers to undergo a thorough background investigation, which includes:

  • A fingerprint background check through the Maine State Bureau of Investigation and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • A background inquiry verifying that the candidate has no disqualifying convictions on his or her record
  • A driver history inquiry examining the candidate’s motor vehicle driving record
  • A polygraph examination

Maine Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The Maine State Police is the largest police department in the state, with 341 sworn personnel providing law enforcement services from patrol to investigation and incident management.4 The Maine State Police are continually recruiting and seek the best-qualified applicants to wear the agency’s uniform and badge. To ensure that the best candidates are offered employment, the agency has a number of requirements for prospective troopers. In addition to meeting requirements for entering the state’s BLETP, candidates must:

  • Possess a valid Maine Class C driver’s license
  • Not have any convictions for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol within 10 years prior to application
  • Comply with the agency’s policies regarding visible tattoos, piercings, and other body art

Candidates should also note that the Maine State Police standards for physical agility are more demanding than those for entrance into the BLETP. In addition, though future Maine State Troopers are not required to have earned college credits, the department offers generous hourly incentives ranging from a $0.19 increase for associate degree holders to $0.43 for those holding a master’s degree or higher.

Maine Sheriff Deputy Requirements

There are 16 counties in Maine that hold regular elections for the office of sheriff. Each sheriff is empowered to appoint deputies to assist in carrying out the law enforcement duties of the sheriff’s office. In order to become a sheriff’s deputy, candidates must:

  • Meet the same minimum qualifications for BLETP as all other law enforcement officers in the state
  • Have previous law enforcement experience
  • Have graduated from the BLETP or from a criminal justice or law enforcement program at an accredited college
  • If qualifying for appointment by education, complete the BLETP at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy following the appointment to deputy
  • Reside in the county of appointment unless approval for out-of-county residence has been approved by the sheriff and county commissioners

York County

The York County Sheriff’s Office maintains three major divisions: police services, corrections, and civil process. The sheriff’s office provides rural patrol and law enforcement for 14 of the 29 municipalities in York County.6 In addition, the office’s corrections division is responsible for the operations of the York County Jail. Deputy sheriffs receive comprehensive benefits, including educational reimbursement and participation in ongoing law enforcement continuing education programs.

Cumberland County

The jurisdiction of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office includes the busy city of Portland, Maine. The department is currently seeking accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). 260 personnel work for the sheriff’s department in routine and specialty law enforcement operations including patrol, drug enforcement, and emergency management.8 Chief Deputy Gagnon has over 30 years of law enforcement experience and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Police Departments in Maine

With approximately 2,090 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in Maine, there are a variety of opportunities for prospective officers to begin careers in law enforcement.12 All prospective officers must meet the standards set by BLETP, as well as any additional requirements established by the hiring agency. Those who receive an offer of employment will complete BLETP training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, typically at the hiring department’s expense.

Augusta

The Augusta Police Department employs approximately 40 sworn officers.10 Chief Robert Gregoire has worked for the Augusta PD for over 25 years and promotes inter-agency cooperation to ensure the safety and security of Maine’s capitol. In addition to meeting BLETP minimum standards, candidates for employment with the department must be 21 years of age and free of criminal convictions or uncharged criminal conduct. The background investigation to become an Augusta police officer also includes interviews with the city board, chief of police, and city manager.

Portland

The Portland Police Department maintains several routine and specialty law enforcement teams including investigative, street crimes, and forensics sections. The Portland PD is the largest municipal law enforcement agency in the state of Maine, with approximately 163 sworn officers and 59 civilian personnel.11 To become a Portland police officer, candidates must meet minimum state standards and have two years of employment after high school, three years of education after high school, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Portland officers must not have tattoos that are visible while in uniform.

Police Training Academies in Maine

With rare exceptions, all future Maine police, sheriff’s patrol, and law enforcement officers complete the state required officer training through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s (MCJA) Basic Law Enforcement Training Program (BLETP). The BLETP is an intensive 18-week course covering academic content, law enforcement skills, and physical training. Depending on the department for which a recruit is training, further advanced programs may be required. For example, following graduation from BLETP Maine State Troopers join the Recruit Training Troop. The Recruit Training Troop is an additional nine-week training program beyond the 18-week basic training.

Maine Police Jobs Outlook

The jobs outlook for Maine police officers is not as positive as in other states, with 70 annual openings projected between 2012 and 2022.13 This translates to a negative job growth rate for Maine police and sheriff’s deputies of -2.6% during the same period.13 However, other opportunities for prospective law enforcement officers may be found at the state and federal levels. In addition, the average annual salary for Maine police officers is competitive at $43,270; this makes law enforcement a potentially lucrative career for Maine residents.12

Though local budgets may restrict the number of police officers hired in Maine in the coming years, openings are still expected due to retirement. Metropolitan areas with growing populations will also see an increased need for law enforcement officers. You can learn more about the opportunities available on our Police Jobs page.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Maine

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Bangor210$46,720
Lewiston-Auburn120$44,820
Portland530$48,700

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.

References:
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Maine: http://www.bestplaces.net/state/maine
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
3. Maine Criminal Justice Academy: http://maine.gov/dps/mcja/training/basiclaw/index.htm
4. Maine State Police: http://www.maine.gov/dps/msp/about/index.html
5. Maine Revised Statutes: http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/30-A/title30-Asec381.html
6. Maine County of York: http://www.yorkcountyme.gov/about.html
7. York County Sheriff’s Office: http://yorkcountyso.com/
8. Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office: http://www.cumberlandso.org/
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
10. Augusta Police Department: http://www.augustamaine.gov/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B19EBFBDF-2C57-4C71-B3C9-0AB3578762B2%7D
11. Portland Police Department: http://portlandmaine.gov/202/Police
12. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,
Maine: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_me.htm
13. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm