logo

How to Become a Police Officer in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a population of over 3.9 million people with 7,640 sworn police and sheriff’s patrol officers.1,2 With a cost of living approximately 11% below the national average, Oklahoma is an affordable state for police officers to launch their careers.3 The Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) oversees education and training for Oklahoma police officers. Continue reading to learn more about statewide requirements that CLEET sets for prospective officers as well as find information about careers in the state’s major law enforcement agencies.

Oklahoma Police Officer Requirements

The Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) sets regulations to ensure that officers hired by the various agencies in the state are qualified, professional, and ethical. Note that while CLEET’s standards are guidelines for prospective officers, individual jurisdictions may set additional requirements. To become a police officer in Oklahoma, the minimum standards are that candidates must:

  • Be a US citizen or resident alien
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be 21 years of age
  • Have no felony convictions nor domestic violence incidents
  • Have fingerprint clearance from the FBI and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
  • Have been administered a psychological evaluation and been evaluated by a psychologist licensed by the state
  • Not have been committed to an Oklahoma state mental institution involuntarily
“Many people, when applying for a job, want to make themselves look as good as possible. While this is important, a key thing to remember is: No police department has ever hired a perfect person. Tell us about everything you have done so we can decide what is important or not. Most of the time, if we would have just known, it would have been okay. But if you don’t tell us, and we find out (and we usually do), then you are permanently disqualified and marked with integrity issues – Tell The Truth.” – The Recruiting Unit of the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Required Exams

Before attending a CLEET-certified basic training academy, applicants must pass three exams. First, applicants must take the Oklahoma Peace Officer Selection Test (OPOST), a reading, writing, and comprehension exam. The minimum acceptable score is 70%.4 This test is offered monthly at 10 different locations throughout Oklahoma. Applicants will also be required to take the CLEET Test for Safe Participation to ensure that the applicant is in good physical condition and can safely complete the training academy. Applicants can take the Test for Safe Participation no more than four times. Lastly, applicants are required to undergo medical and psychological evaluations. Recruits who are hired will complete at least 14.5 weeks of police academy training.

“You will make mistakes. Learn from them and never stop learning. Negativity eats away at law enforcement. Every day, find something positive and remember why you became an officer.” – Suzy Ivy, Police Detective and Author of the Bad Luck Detective

Oklahoma State Trooper Requirements

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) has 31 troop areas that patrol the state’s 111,994 miles of highways and provide law enforcement services.5 In addition to highway patrol, there are various specialized teams including the bomb squad, the investigations division, the special operations unit, and the tactical team. In order to apply to become an Oklahoma state trooper, applicants must meet state minimums and:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Be no older than 45 years of age
  • Possess an associate’s degree OR have completed 62 hours from an accredited university or college OR have completed 32 hours of study from an accredited university or college, PLUS three years of active or reserve military service OR have completed 32 hours of study from an accredited university or college AND have been honorably discharged from the military with acceptable experience

During the police academy, OHP patrol officers earn $3,396 per month; this is raised to $3,634 per month after graduation from the academy and during the probation period, with regular increases thereafter.5

Oklahoma Sheriff Deputy Requirements

There are 77 counties in Oklahoma, each of which has a sheriff’s office to handle law enforcement and corrections for matters in the county’s jurisdictions. Sheriffs typically appoint sheriff’s deputies to assist them in carrying out the duties of the sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s deputies must meet the statewide standards for law enforcement officers set by CLEET.

Oklahoma County

Oklahoma County is the largest county in Oklahoma by population, and county law enforcement operations are overseen by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).7 The department has multiple divisions including detention, judicial, and operations bureaus. The department posts requirements for sheriff’s deputies periodically as vacancies arise; candidates must at a minimum meet CLEET’s statewide standards for law enforcement officers.

Cleveland County

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) oversees Cleveland County, which is the third-most populous county in Oklahoma and includes the Oklahoma City metro area as well as the town of Norman.6 To become a Cleveland County sheriff’s deputy, applicants must meet state minimums and:

  • Already be a certified peace officer, preferably in the state of Oklahoma
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a valid Oklahoma driver’s license
  • Not have any involvement with marijuana within the past two years, nor involvement with other illicit drugs within the past five years
  • Have no arrests or interactions with police associated with operating a motor vehicle under the influence within the past five years
  • Be available and willing to work any shift include nights, weekends, and holidays

The starting salary for CCSO sheriff’s deputies is $34,000 per year.6

Police Departments in Oklahoma

There are nearly 500 law enforcement agencies in the state of Oklahoma with around 230 officers for every 100,000 residents.8 Tulsa and Oklahoma City are leading cities for prospective cops interested in careers in major metro areas, though the state also offers opportunities in suburban and rural settings. All prospective police officers must meet the statewide CLEET standards for officers, though cities may set more stringent requirements.

“Before joining the law enforcement family, make sure you have what it takes to make this profession proud. You must be selfless, dedicated, accountable, and willing to show unconditional respect for others even in the face of evil. Be true to yourself and have an ultra-strong desire to help others. Ensure you are willing to give it your all even while being criticized by others for simply doing your job. Be ready for a wonderful and fulfilling endeavor that is second to nothing.” -Tracy D. Roles, Chief of Police, Bartlesville Police Department.

Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma City Police Department (OKCPD) has over 1,000 sworn officers and civilian employees.9 The OKCPD has one main station and five substations to serve a population of over 610,000.9 In addition to uniform patrol officers, the OKCPD has an investigations bureau, an equine unit, a lake patrol section, a canine unit, an airport unit, a motorcycle unit, and a helicopter unit. Applicants looking to become a member of the OKCPD must meet CLEET standards and:

  • Be between the ages of 21 and 45
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a valid driver’s license with an acceptable driving history
  • Have a stable employment and credit history
  • Comply with the department’s strict tattoo policies, which include size limitations for tattoos that are not visible while in uniform

To find out more about what it takes to become an OKCPD police officer, visit our How to Become a Police Officer in Oklahoma City guide.

Tulsa

The Tulsa Police Department (TPD) is the second largest police department in the state, serving a population of 390,000.10 TPD has eight specialized units including an air support unit, a bomb squad, and a special operations team. To apply to the TPD, candidates must meet state standards and:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Be a resident of the Tulsa metro area (can meet this requirement once hired)
  • Have a bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 or better grade point average from an accredited college or university
  • Have far visual acuity of 20/30 minimum with or without glasses or contacts
  • Have peripheral vision without correction of 140 degrees in the horizontal median
  • Be able to distinguish between the colors red and green on an Ishihara test for color blindness
  • Have unaided hearing loss of no more than 40 db at 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz

TPD does not accept military service for educational credit unless that service was converted through an accredited college or university for college credit towards a degree. For more information about the TPD, check out our How to Become a Police Officer in Tulsa guide.

“Seek to develop both verbal and written communication skills. Generally speaking, law enforcement officers are required to communicate regularly with citizens. Many investigations include interviewing victims/witnesses, interrogating suspects, speaking to the public, etc. Investigations require detailed documentation and cohesive narration. Being able to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing is an extremely vital skill for law enforcement officers. Furthering one’s education is a great way to improve this skill. Our department’s minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree.” – Randall Armstrong, Police Officer, Tulsa Police Department Training Division.

Police Training Academies in Oklahoma

All police recruits are required to attend a CLEET-approved law enforcement training academy. Police training academies cover topics such as criminal law, Constitutional law, emergency vehicle operation, and police-community relations. Physical fitness and training is also an essential part of the academy, with daily exercise and regular fitness testing built into the curriculum. CLEET-approved police academies in Oklahoma include:

  • Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training – Ada, OK
  • Oklahoma City Police and Fire Training Center – Oklahoma City, OK
  • Oklahoma County Training Center – Nicoma Park, OK
  • Oklahoma County Training Center – Spencer, OK
  • Tulsa Police Academy – Tulsa, OK

To learn more about police training in Oklahoma, visit the CLEET website.

Oklahoma Police Jobs Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 7,640 men and women serving as police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Oklahoma, with an average annual salary of $45,600.2 It is projected that by 2026, the number of law enforcement officers in the state will grow by 10.9%.11 On average, there are projected to be about 640 law enforcement job openings per year in the state during this time period.11 The number of new police officers is closely tied to a city’s budget and priorities. The number of law enforcement openings for Oklahoma may vary due to budget constraints.

For law enforcement jobs in Oklahoma, check out our police jobs board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Oklahoma

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Lawton230$37,760
Oklahoma City2,110$52,570
Tulsa1,940$52,090

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.2

References:
1. US Census Bureau, Oklahoma Quick Facts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/OK/PST045219
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oklahoma:https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ok.htm
3. Sperling’s Best Places, Oklahoma: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/oklahoma
4. Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training: https://www.ok.gov/cleet/Peace_Officers/Reading,_Writing_and_Comprehension_Test/
5. Oklahoma Highway Patrol: http://www.ohptroopers.com/index.html
6. Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.ccso-ok.us/
7. Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office: https://sheriff.oklahomacounty.org/
8. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf
9. Oklahoma City Police Department: https://www.okc.gov/departments/police
10. Tulsa Police Department: https://www.tulsapolice.org/
11. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm