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How to Become a Police Officer in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a population of just over one million, with a stable population growth rate.1 Aspiring cops in Rhode Island will enjoy the state’s miles of beaches, historic landmarks, and an average annual salary for police officers of $58,830.2 Criteria for becoming a law enforcement officer in Rhode Island may vary across municipalities, but there are some basic requirements set at the state level that will apply to all potential officers. This guide will provide an overview of those prerequisites in addition to more specific requirements for sheriff’s deputies, state patrol, and a few local police departments in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Police Officer Requirements

There are about 2,110 police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Rhode Island.2 The Rhode Island Police Officers Commission on Standards and Training (POST) establishes rules and regulations to train, certify, and decertify officers in the state. While agencies may set requirements above the state minimums, all agencies must abide by these standards. Similar to the screening process in other states, future cops in Rhode Island have to pass a background check, psychological exam and a physical fitness assessment. Aspiring officers must also have medical clearance from a state-certified physician prior to starting the basic training academy.

Rhode Island State Patrol Requirements

The Rhode Island State Police (RISP) employs over 220 sworn officers and more than 50 civilians.3 Specialized units of RISP include the marine/dive unit, honor guard unit, financial crimes unit, computer crimes unit, major/organized crime unit, game enforcement unit, and narcotics/high intensity drug trafficking areas unit. To become a Rhode Island State trooper, applicants must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 35
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have visual acuity of 20/40 (binocular vision, uncorrected), 20/20 visual acuity (corrected), normal color and depth perception, and normal hearing
  • Have no visible tattoos while in uniform or not in uniform (if on duty)
  • Not have any felony convictions nor disqualifying lesser convictions

After graduating from the paid police academy training, the starting salary for Rhode Island state troopers is $60,697 per year, with four annual increases thereafter bringing the salary to $74,004.3

Rhode Island Sheriff Deputy Requirements

The Rhode Island Division of Sheriffs was founded in 1663 and consolidated in 2011 with the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety. The division handles courtroom security, personnel training, extradition, and criminal transport across the state. To become a deputy sheriff in Rhode Island, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Be a US citizen
  • Pass the physical fitness test
  • Have no visible tattoos when wearing the division uniform

In addition to having a high school diploma or GED, applicants must have one of the following:

  • An associate degree or higher (or 60 college credits) in law enforcement or criminal justice from an accredited college or university OR
  • Two years of active military service OR
  • Two or more years of full-time law enforcement experience with powers of arrest OR
  • Three years of full-time employment as a correctional officer OR
  • Four years of military reserve service OR
  • Successfully completed the state’s municipal police academy, state police, Providence police or comparable certified program offered by another public law enforcement agency

The hiring process includes physical agility testing, a written exam, a background investigation, medical/psychological evaluations, and an oral board interview. Successful applicants will complete training at the Division of Sheriffs Recruit Training Academy. Upon completing the basic training academy, Rhode Island sheriff’s deputies will begin a six-month probationary period.

“Military, EMS, volunteer firefighter experience may prove to be a significant asset that can set you apart from the field of other applicants. Military service may also help by adding points to Civil Services tests if you qualify.” – Thomas Gerace, police lieutenant

Police Departments in Rhode Island

Over 2,100 cops work in police departments in Rhode Island’s cities and towns, earning an average salary of $58,830 annually.2 While all cops must meet the minimum requirements for physical fitness, training, and suitability set forth by the Rhode Island POST board, each police department may have different criteria that prospective officers must meet.

Providence

The Providence Police Department (PPD) has been in operation since 1775 and today employs over 400 sworn officers.4 The PPD has three divisions: the administrative division, the investigative division, and the uniform division. To join the PPD, recruits must:

  • Be a US citizen or a permanent resident alien who is eligible and has applied for US citizenship
  • Be at least 21 years of age upon completion of the academy
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have no misdemeanors within the past five years and no felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have been honorably discharged from the military service
  • Pass a background investigation and written, psychological, and physical exams

Warwick

The Warwick Police Department (WPD) is responsible for the public safety of the city of Warwick’s population of 81,000.5 Warwick police officers can work in patrol or with specialty units including homeland security and detective work. Individuals who want to join the WPD must have a high school diploma or GED and one of the following:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours or an associate degree from an accredited college or university OR
  • three years of full-time public law enforcement experience OR
  • three years of continuous active military service OR
  • five years of continuous reserve military service

First-year police salaries in Warwick are $42,652 per year, which comes with annual increases up to $68,744 in the fourth year of service.5

Police Training Academies in Rhode Island

There are two basic training academies in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy (RIMPA) located in Lincoln provides basic training for all cops in the state. RIMPA trains approximately 100 recruits per year in the 22-week training academy.6 The Rhode Island State Police Training Academy in North Scituate provides basic training for state police only. Recruits learn about a variety of topics, some of which include criminal law, patrol operations, community policing, report writing, fair and impartial policing, and basic water rescue.

To learn more about police training in Rhode Island, visit the RIMPA website.

Rhode Island Police Jobs Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 2,110 cops in Rhode Island.2 The average annual salary for Rhode Island police officers and sheriff’s deputies is $58,830.2 It is projected that through 2026, employment of police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Rhode Island will increase by 3.3%.7 An average of 140 annual openings, including replacement positions, is expected during that timeframe.

To search law enforcement jobs in Rhode Island, check out our police jobs board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Rhode Island

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Norwich-New London-Westerly510$66,850
Providence-Warwick RI-MA2,550$59,260

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.2

References:
1.Sperling’s Best Places, Rhode Island: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/rhode_island
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Rhode Island: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ri.htm
3. Rhode Island State Police: http://dps.ri.gov/
4. Providence Police Department: https://www.providenceri.gov/police-department/
5. Warwick Police Department: https://www.warwickpd.org/
6. Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy: http://rimpa.ri.gov/
7. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm