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Police Officer Trainee Application Process

Sample Recruitment Information

Applications are only accepted when a recruitment is open;  check  Current Jobs Listing.

This recruitment information is provided to aid candidates in preparing themselves for the next recruitment, whether or not there is a current recruitment.


  1. City application forms, completed in full, are required, as well as an original, current (within 30 days prior to application), official, certified, true and attested, DMV driving record printout. Candidates are asked to fully describe any training, education, experience or skills relevant to this position. Resumes are optional. (Note: The following process may be changed as deemed necessary by the Human Resources Director.)
  2. Applications will be competitively screened based on the minimum qualifications for the job. All applications on file in the Human Resources Department as of 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date will be reviewed for minimum qualifications.
  3. Selected candidates will be invited to a written examination, which will last approximately two hours and thirty minutes. This standardized, multiple choice test includes sections on report writing, reading comprehension, memory and observation, and reasoning ability. The test will also include a writing exercise which will be scored on basic writing skills such as grammar, spelling, punctuation and the ability to communicate logically and effectively. (Note: POST tests are not allowed in lieu of this testing process.)
  4. Selected candidates receiving a passing score on the examination will be asked to fill out a Personal History Statement (PHS) form printed single sided, by hand and in ink.
  5. Candidates completing the PHS form by the deadline date will be referred to the department. Selected candidates who pass the PHS form review by the Police Department will be called for a selection interview.
  6. An intensive background investigation will be conducted on each final candidate in accordance with the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission Peace Officer Background Investigations Guidelines.
  7. Candidates will also be required to successfully pass a polygraph test administered by a licensed polygrapher, a psychological exam given by a City-selected psychologist and a medical exam by a City physician (to include a stress test EKG and general physical examination). The results of the psychological exam are valid for one year. Suitability for employment will also be based on the following POST job dimensions: problem-solving ability, learning ability, observation skills, willingness to confront problems, interest in people, interpersonal sensitivity, desire for self-improvement, dependability, integrity, credibility as a witness in a court of law, communication skills, judgment under pressure and physical ability.

    THE POSITION: Police Officers preserve the peace; protect life and property; prevent and detect crimes; enforce laws and ordinances; and maintain a public service approach toward the community. Typical duties may include foot and vehicle patrol; response to calls concerning traffic accidents, crimes and other emergencies; traffic enforcement and crime investigation. Police Officers also prepare various reports, participate in the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving Program, prepare cases for prosecution and appear as court witnesses.

    THE DEPARTMENT: The Santa Cruz Police Department serves a community of over 55,000 citizens. During the summer months, the population may swell to over 80,000. There are 96 sworn officers assigned to such areas as patrol, traffic enforcement and investigation.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS (Knowledge, skills and abilities)

  • High school graduation or tested equivalent.
  • At least 21 years old at time of appointment to police officer.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or have applied for U.S. citizenship before application for police officer.

Physical Condition

  • Physical health, strength, and agility necessary to meet the physical demands of police work, as determined by a medical exam (based on current California POST Commission guidelines).
    Corrected vision of 20/20 in both eyes together. Uncorrected vision of 20/80 for both eyes, for those who wear glasses or hard contact lenses. There is no uncorrected vision standard for individuals who successfully wear soft contact lenses. Current POST vision guidelines must be met, including those for color, binocular, and peripheral vision.

Other Requirements

  • Willingness to work rotating shifts including nights and weekends.
  • Psychological suitability for police work (determined by a psychological exam as required by the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission).
  • Ability to pass a comprehensive background investigation which includes a polygraph examination, credit history, driving record, criminal activity, military and employment records, and character references (in accordance with the minimum standards for employment issued by the California POST Commission).


  • Bilingual and/or bicultural Spanish speaking


Applicants must be able to obtain by time of hire and continue to maintain a valid California driver's license and a safe driving record. Applicants with more than two moving violations or responsibility for more than two vehicle accidents in the past three years will be disqualified. A DUI conviction within four years or any two convictions of DUI of alcohol and/or drugs shall be disqualifying.

All applicants, including regular and temporary City employees, must attach to their application an original, recent (issued within 30 days prior to application date) driving record printout issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Driving record printouts issued by other agencies will not be accepted. The printout can be obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles, at a cost of $5.00. For more information call 800-777-0133. An original, current DMV driving record printout must be attached to the employment application. For City of Santa Cruz driving record requirement see Driving Record Printouts webpage.



Note: For the purposes of this policy, an adult is defined as someone 18 years of age or older.

A. The following types of illegal drug use or possession will be considered automatic disqualifiers in the pre-employment selection process for sworn police personnel, with no exceptions:

1. Any adult use or possession of a drug classified as a hallucinogenic within seven (7) years prior to application for employment.

2. Any adult use or possession of marijuana within one (1) year prior to application for employment.

3. Any other illegal adult use or possession of a drug not mentioned above (including cocaine) within three (3) years prior to application for employment.

4. Any illegal adult use or possession of a drug while employed in the capacity of a police officer, licensed security officer, military police, or as a student enrolled in college accredited courses of/or related to the criminal justice field.

5. Any adult manufacture or cultivation of a drug.

6. Failure to divulge to the Police Department during the background investigation any information about personal illegal use or possession of drugs.

B. The disqualification of a police officer candidate for the following types of illegal drug use or possession will be considered in relationship to the overall background of that individual:

1. Any illegal juvenile use or possession of a drug.

2. Any illegal adult use or possession of a drug that does not meet the criteria of the automatic disqualifiers specified above; e.g., marijuana use longer than one (1) year ago or cocaine use longer than three (3) years ago.

C. All information obtained during a background investigation is confidential and will not be released to candidates or others.


APPOINTMENT: Any candidate selected by the appointing department must pass a pre-employment medical exam administered by a City-selected physician before hire. Prior to starting work, all newly hired employees will be fingerprinted, to check conviction history. A conviction history will not necessarily disqualify an applicant from appointment; however, failure to disclose conviction history will result in refusal of employment or termination. Candidates must present documentation verifying authorization to work in the United States and take a loyalty oath as required by the State of California at the time of hire. Appointments to regular positions are subject to a one-year probationary period, which is considered a part of the selection process. Probationary employees may be terminated without recourse during this period. Promotion from a Police Officer Trainee to a sworn Police Officer position is contingent upon successful completion of the basic academy and final review of the Police Chief. Upon promotion to Police Officer, incumbents will begin a one-year probation as a regular status employee.
SCHEDULE: All police patrol personnel currently work a 10-hour/4-day a week schedule.
SALARY POLICY: This classification has a eight-step salary range. Appointment is normally made at the first step of the range. Employees are advanced to the next step upon successful completion of six months of service and are eligible for merit increases each year thereafter, until the top step of the salary range is reached.
BILINGUAL PAY: The City shall provide a monthly allowance of $200 for bilingual speaking skills, upon the recommendation of the Chief of Police and the approval of the Human Resources/ASD Director.
EDUCATION INCENTIVE: Sworn personnel are eligible for the following monthly education incentive compensation: AA/AS degree or Intermediate POST Certificate - 2.5% differential of base pay or BA/BS degree or Advanced POST Certificate - 5% differential of base pay.
EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT: Newly hired Police Officers are required to sign an employment contract which provides that if the employee resigns from the Santa Cruz Police Department within 36 months of his/her date of hire, and accepts a sworn position with another law enforcement agency within 120 days of his/her resignation, the employee will reimburse the City for the estimated direct costs related to academy and post-academy training provided by the City (a schedule of reimbursement is available upon request). Upon completion of the three-year contract, Police Patrol Officers are eligible to receive a one-time payment of $3,600 provided they sign an additional three-year contract to remain employed by the Santa Cruz Police Department.


RETIREMENT: All regular employees become members of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) 3% at 55 Retirement Plan (3 year average). Employees contribute 20.25% of their salary to PERS on a pre-tax basis through participation in an IRS 414 (H) (2) Plan. Employees may withdraw their PERS contribution with interest upon termination of employment or leave it on deposit. No social security is withheld.
INSURANCE: Employees and their dependents are eligible for medical, dental, drug and vision care programs. Employees also receive long-term disability and $15,000 basic life insurance. Additional low cost group life insurance is also available.
VACATION: Full-time employees are eligible for 80 hours of vacation per year up to 5 years of service; 120 hours from 6 to 10 years of service; and 120 hours of vacation plus 8 hours for each year of service after 10 years to a maximum of 160 hours.
HOLIDAYS: One hundred and four hours per year.
SICK LEAVE: Ninety-six hours per year. The City has a sick leave incentive program.
PRE-TAX DEDUCTIONS: The Medical Reimbursement Account allows employees to make pre-tax deductions for allowable medical expenses not covered by the medical plan. The Dependent Care Assistance Program allows employees to make pre-tax deductions for childcare.
OTHER BENEFITS INCLUDE: Access to credit union, tuition reimbursement for job-related courses, PERS home loan program, discounted bus passes for travel to and from work, direct payroll deposit, and deferred compensation plan. Uniforms are provided to officers and maintained by the City.

The information included in this description is subject to change and does not constitute an expressed or implied contract.


Candidates who are given a conditional offer of employment will attend a Regular Basic Course (academy) which typically meets Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. for approximately 5 ½ months.
For more information regarding the Regular Basic Course curriculum, go to



Upon successful completion of the Regular Basic Course (academy) the Police Officer Trainee will be promoted to Police Officer/Academy Graduate with a salary range of $5,665 - $8,369 depending upon qualifications.


Last updated: 5/20/2014 3:35:21 PM