How to Become a Police Officer in Wyoming
Wyoming is a rugged state with some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, including the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the high plains, as well as the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Working in law enforcement means patrolling this scenic state, or working in one of the few cities, like Cheyenne.
Although Wyoming has seen a population growth of nearly 14% since 2000, it is still the least populated state in the country.1 There are only 1,170 cops and deputies working in the state, but there is always room for more as the population continues to grow.2
Wyoming Police Officer Requirements
Wyoming’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST) is responsible for setting the minimum standards for all law enforcement officers in the state. POST certifies officers from all agencies and administers the pre-employment exam that all hopeful new cops and deputies must take as the first step toward being offered employment with an agency. According to POST, in addition to passing the test, new recruits must:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 18 years old
- Submit fingerprints to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation
- Not have been convicted of a felony
- Complete a background check
- Be examined by a physician and a psychiatrist
To be certified in the state, POST also requires that each individual be interviewed and offered employment by an agency such as a police department or sheriff’s office. Once all standards are met, the individual must attend the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy (WLEA) for basic training.
Wyoming Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP) recruits new troopers on a regular basis. The WHP offers new troopers a starting salary of $3,556 per month along with longevity pay, holiday pay, vacation leave, sick leave, and insurance and retirement benefits. To become a trooper with the WHP, new recruits must:
- Be at least 22 years old by the hire date
- Have two years of experience working with the public
- Have a clean driving record
- Have vision better than 20/100 and correctable to 20/20
- Not have had any type of visual correction surgery within the last six months
New recruits who are accepted must attend basic training at the WLEA followed by WHP basic training for an additional 14 weeks.
Wyoming Sheriff Deputy Requirements
Because of the sparse population in the state, Wyoming’s counties are large. Deputies within the sheriffs’ offices are responsible for a wide territory. Deputies perform a range of tasks from patrolling to prisoner security and crime investigation. Each sheriff’s office sets its own standards and hiring procedures for new deputies, but all deputies must complete WLEA basic training and become certified by POST.
Laramie County is one of the most exciting counties in which deputies work. The county seat is Cheyenne, which is also the state capital and largest city in Wyoming. The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office sets a strict hiring procedure for new deputies that includes a background investigation, a formal interview, medical and psychological screenings, drug tests, and a polygraph test. After basic training and POST-certification, new Laramie deputies must complete a probationary period on patrol duties but they may qualify to join the drug task force team, the special weapons team, the K-9 team, or other specialty areas.
The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office serves the approximately 65,000 residents of the county, which includes the state’s second largest city, Casper. The Sheriff’s Office is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state with 166 employees in total and 124 sworn deputies.3 To be hired as a deputy, hopeful candidates must meet the POST requirements, as well as those of Natrona County:
- A minimum age of 21
- A legal qualification to have a firearm
- A valid driver’s license
- No marijuana use within the last two years
- No illicit drug use other than marijuana within the last five years
- No felony convictions
- Good moral character
- A written agreement making a two-year commitment to the position
Police Departments in Wyoming
Most of the cities in Wyoming are small, with police forces to match the populations. There are opportunities, however, to work in larger police departments in the state’s two biggest cities: Cheyenne and Casper. Those candidates open to working in smaller towns have many to choose from in Wyoming, with 58 local police agencies in the state.4 Each department determines the hiring process and any additional requirements for new recruits in addition to those set by POST.
The Cheyenne Police Department (CPD) is responsible for patrolling and protecting the people of the state’s capital and largest city. New recruits to the CPD have the opportunity to work toward joining such specialty units within the department as the bicycle unit, the alcohol enforcement unit, the detective division, the mounted patrol unit, the K-9 unit, and many more. The process for screening new recruits begins with a written exam and includes a fitness test, background check, medical and psychological examinations, and a polygraph test. To be qualified to begin the process, new recruits must:
- Be 21 years old at the time of hiring
- Have no felony or domestic violence convictions
- Have only honorable discharges from the military
- Have a clean driving record
- Not have distributed or sold illegal drugs
- Not have ever used any hallucinogen
- Not have used illegal drugs within the last five years
- Not have used marijuana within the last two years
Casper is situated in the center of the state, along the North Platte River and at the foot of Casper Mountain. It is a friendly, small city with abundant amenities and opportunities for those hoping to work in law enforcement. The Casper Police Department hires new recruits through a process that begins with a written test and a physical fitness test. These are followed by an oral interview and the recruits are then ranked for eligibility. In addition to the POST requirements, candidates for the Casper Police Department must be at least 21 years old, qualify to own a firearm, and have no felony convictions.
Police Training Academies in Wyoming
The Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy is located in Douglas and is the only law enforcement training academy in the state. All peace officers in Wyoming must attend the basic training program, which lasts for 12 weeks. POST is responsible for setting the curriculum and training instructors at the WLEA. The academy also has special programs in addition to basic training. These include extra training for new state troopers and the Wyoming Homeland Security Training Program for members of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Wyoming Police Jobs Outlook
The population of Wyoming may be small compared to other states, but there are still plenty of opportunities for those hoping to work in law enforcement. The number of positions available is expected to grow by 8.2% from now to 2022, which means an average of 40 new jobs each year.5 Law enforcement officers in Wyoming make an average salary of $51,510.2 This helps mitigate the cost of living in the state, which is 4.4% higher than the national average.1
For more information about current law enforcement openings, take a look at our Police Jobs page.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Wyoming
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Wyoming: http://www.bestplaces.net/state/wyoming
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Wyoming: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wy.htm#33-0000
3. Natrona County Sheriff’s Office: http://www.natrona.net/118/Sheriff
4. US Department of Justice, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf
5. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm