How to Become a Police Officer in Nebraska
Residents of the state of Nebraska currently enjoy a cost of living that is 11.5% lower than the national average.1 The population has grown by over 6% since 2000, perhaps due to the low cost of living and the low unemployment rate of 3.3%.1 With these kinds of statistics, it’s little wonder that new recruits to law enforcement are eager to work in this great midwestern state.
Future cops in Nebraska have to meet the minimum standards for law enforcement certification as set by PSAC, Nebraska’s Police Standards Advisory Council. Currently there are 3,370 patrol officers, including cops and sheriff’s deputies, enjoying a rewarding career in the state.2
Nebraska Police Officer Requirements
PSAC is a committee of the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice and it is responsible for setting the standards for certifying all peace officers in Nebraska. Hopeful new recruits are encouraged to get an offer of employment from a state law enforcement agency before attending the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center (NLETC). It is possible to attend and earn a diploma at the NLETC without first being hired, but spaces are limited and preference is given to those recruits who have already been hired. To be hired and to attend the academy, recruits must meet the basic PSAC standards:
- Minimum age of 21 before completing training
- US citizenship
- High school diploma or GED
- Proof of US citizenship
- Valid Nebraska driver’s license
- 11th grade reading and writing level
- Good moral character as determined by a background check
- Medical examination
New recruits must also pass a physical fitness test and meet certain entrance standards before being admitted to the training program. This includes a vertical jump, sit-ups, a 300-meter spring, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run.
Nebraska Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) hires troopers to work in the field, patrol state highways, and join investigative teams for crimes and traffic accidents. New recruits attend a specialized training academy, the Nebraska State Patrol Training Academy, which is located on the same campus as the NLETC. To be hired and to attend the academy, hopeful new troopers must:
- Meet all of the PSAC standards
- Not have serious or frequent traffic convictions
- Not have tattoos, piercings, or other body art visible while in uniform
- Not have used marijuana within the last two years
- Not have used other illicit drugs within the last five years
- Not have sold, produced, or transported illegal drugs
Nebraska Sheriff Deputy Requirements
The sheriff deputies of Nebraska counties play many roles in keeping residents safe, from guarding prisoners to patrolling county roads and investigating crimes. Each county has its own sheriff’s office and its own procedure and standards for hiring new deputies. At a minimum, new recruits must meet the PSAC standards and, once hired, complete the basic law enforcement training program at the NLETC.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for serving and protecting the residents of Douglas County, which includes the state’s largest city, Omaha. Deputy sheriffs with the office are responsible for patrolling in cruisers, investigating crimes, booking and guarding prisoners, serving civil papers, providing courtroom security, and many other important duties. In order to be considered for a position as a deputy, new recruits must register with the human resources office authorized to coordinate testing. Recruits must then pass a written test, a physical fitness test, and prove that they meet the minimum PSAC standards.
In Lancaster County, the sheriff’s office and the deputies who work for the county are responsible for patrolling, enforcing the law, and keeping residents safe in all rural areas, towns, and villages. The starting salary for a Lancaster deputy is $44,524 and benefits include overtime pay, longevity pay, paid vacations and sick days, health care, and a retirement plan.3 The application procedure for a new deputy begins with a written test, followed by a physical fitness test and an oral interview. These recruits must meet the PSAC standards and also must:
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
- Not have any felony convictions
- Be able to read, write, and speak English fluently
- Have normal hearing and sense of smell
- Have vision correctable to 20/30
Police Departments in Nebraska
Nebraska is a largely rural state, but most towns, even the small towns, have a local police department. In addition to these rural departments, the larger cities of Omaha and Lincoln and their suburbs have sizable police forces that are always looking for qualified and dedicated recruits to join their ranks. Those hoping to become officers must meet minimum state standards and those set by a police department.
Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska, and the Omaha Police Department (OPD) maintains a staff of around 1,000 sworn officers from diverse backgrounds.4 The qualifying requirements for being hired by the OPD are the same as those listed by PSAC. To be considered, new recruits must first pass a written test and then a physical fitness test. Those successful candidates are then subjected to a background investigation. If offered a position on the force, new recruits must attend NLETC and go through specialized training provided by the OPD. For more information about working for the OPD, check out our in-depth guide at How to Become a Police Officer in Omaha.
Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska and is also the state’s second largest city. The Lincoln Police Department is dedicated to serving and protecting the residents of the city and hires only the most qualified recruits to join the team. To find the best, the department begins the hiring process with a written test. Those who pass the test can then take the physical fitness test. With both completed successfully, candidates must then pass an oral interview. The best possible recruits are then put through medical, polygraph, psychological, and drug tests and are subjected to an extensive background check.
Police Training Academies in Nebraska
The state runs just one main campus for basic law enforcement training at the NLETC, which is located in Grand Island. All recruits to agencies within the state must attend this academy for basic training. Individual agencies may require further training for their new recruits beyond the basic academy. The training academy for new troopers hired by the Nebraska State Patrol is also situated on the NLETC campus in Grand Island.
Nebraska Police Jobs Outlook
Nebraska police officers and sheriff’s deputies earn, on average, $52,310 per year.2 The outlook for new jobs in law enforcement in Nebraska is good, with the number of positions expected to grow by 4.4% from now through 2022.5 This means that there will be an average of 110 new jobs opening up each year for hopeful new recruits to Nebraska law enforcement agencies.5
For more information about current law enforcement openings, take a look at our Police Jobs page.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Nebraska
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Nebraska: http://www.bestplaces.net/state/nebraska
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Nebraska: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ne.htm#33-0000
3. Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office: http://lancaster.ne.gov/sheriff/admin/salary.htm
4. Omaha Police Department: https://police.cityofomaha.org/
5. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm