Public Safety
Frequently Asked Questions


Police Officer Employment Information

How do I apply to become a Los Angeles Police Officer?
The first step in the selection process is to complete the online, interactive Preliminary Background Application (PBA) and Job Preview Questionnaire (JPQ). The PBA and JPQ must be completed online at per.lacity.org/safety.htm before you appear to the written test. Once you fill out the PBA and JPQ online, you will receive immediate results regarding your responses. Be sure to bring your PBA results and your JPQ results with you to the written test.
The second step in the selection process is the Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE). This test is offered on a walk-in basis five days a week at various locations. No application is necessary. Go to JoinLAPD.com for detailed information on the written and other tests, and test locations and times.
Do I have to go out on patrol?
Yes, patrol is the foundation of police work. You will be required to spend eleven months on probation in patrol. After probation, you will be assigned to another patrol division where you will make field decisions without the direction of a Field Training Officer. You can not go on to become a Detective or specialize in any one particular field if you don't have the basics down. Once you graduate from the academy, you will learn investigative techniques, public relations, crime scene investigation, evidence preservation, etc. All these things are the building blocks of information and experience for your future career, whether it be in patrol or any other assignment.
How does one advance within the LAPD?
One may advance within the Los Angeles Police Department through either promotion or assignment to a higher paygrade. Assignment to a higher paygrade is assignment to a position carrying greater responsibility or requiring greater expertise, without change in Civil Service class. Reassignment from Police Officer I to Police Officer II is automatic upon satisfactory completion of 18 months of service. However, reassignment from a Police Officer II to a Police Officer III is an illustration of an "assignment to a higher paygrade". This is done from lists of qualified officers established by the Police Department as the result of Police Department internal selection procedures.
Promotion from Police Officer may be either to Police Detective or to Police Sergeant. Candidates seeking to promote to Police Detective or Sergeant must pass a Civil Service examination and be placed on an eligible list for promotion. The successive rungs in the promotional ladder are Police Lieutenant, Police Captain, Police Commander, Police Deputy Chief, and Chief of Police.
How hard or physically demanding is the Police Academy?
The training you will receive in the academy is very physically demanding. You work out 5 days a week and run 3 to 4 miles a day on the days you are not doing grass drills or calisthenics. If you are not in excellent physical condition when you enter the academy, you may experience delays or disruptions in your training or may be dismissed from the academy. The Candidate Assistance Program (CAP) is available for candidates who want to improve their fitness and strength.
How can I prepare to take the Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE)?
The PQE requires you to write essays in response to questions regarding demonstration of your personal qualifications for a law enforcement position. The essays will be evaluated based on your reading skill, written communication skill, and demonstrated effectiveness in judgment and decision making and behavioral flexibility You must carefully read the questions to ensure that your answers are appropriate to the questions. If you feel that you are lacking in your reading comprehension, English usage skills, and/or written communication skill, you can always register at a local college or adult school and take classes in English grammar, literature, and composition. You are eligible to retake the PQE after 3 months if you do not pass.
Candidates are not successful in the PQE for numerous reasons, including the following:
  • Using poor examples that fail to showcase their abilities and potential
  • Failure to provide enough details that would make the essays clear and easier to understand
  • Failure to stay on topic (i.e. rambling, too much detail, or irrelevant information)
  • Failure to provide all information asked for in the essay questions (i.e. did not completely answer the questions)
  • Lacks adequate written communication skills (i.e. English usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)
If you feel that you may need improvement in your written communication skills, we encourage you to take steps to improve in this area. You may want to consider taking a college course in business English and/or essay writing. Below are some courses offered through the Los Angeles Community College District that may interest you.*
Course Name Course Number Description
Business English Business 31 (or CAOT 31) Knowledge of English grammar and punctuation rules; practice in writing sentences and paragraphs
College Reading Skills English 20 Techniques to improve reading skills and to write clear, coherent compositions
College Reading and Composition I English 101 Develops proficiency in college-level reading and writing through the practice of critical thinking and well-developed logical expository writing
* Course names, numbers, and descriptions from the Los Angeles City College 06-07 Catalog
For more information on the Los Angeles Community College District, please call (213) 891-2000 or visit http://www.laccd.edu.
I have some spots on my credit record. Will this automatically pull me out of the running during my background check?
Everyone's financial background is given individual attention. If you have something in collections or are delinquent in some payments, common sense would dictate that you take care of that. We are looking for candidates who are responsible and mature when dealing with their finances and other obligations.
I experimented with marijuana when I was younger. What effect will this have on my background investigation results?
Each candidate's background is reviewed on an individual basis. Past behaviors, choices, and decisions are evaluated in the context of the candidate's complete life history, both positive and negative. Take a moment to thoroughly review the Background Standards and critically assess your own background in light of the standards. Then go to the online Preliminary Background Questionnaire to find out if you meet the standards in some of the more common areas of inquiry.
If, after these assessments, you believe you meet the background standards and decide to enter the selection process, remember that honesty is critical in law enforcement. You must be fully forthcoming about yourself during the selection process. Many candidates purposely fail to disclose information during the background investigation. They think that the negative information will result in their removal from the selection process. When the information is later discovered during the field investigation, they are indeed disqualified. But not necessarily for whatever behavior they failed to disclose. Rather, they are disqualified for what the failure to provide complete, honest, and accurate information says about their character.
It is, therefore, in every candidate's best interests to be completely forthcoming and truthful during the background investigation process. This will allow an accurate evaluation of the candidate's complete life history and a fair determination as to whether the candidate meets the demanding standards for Police Officer.
Do I have to pay for my training?
No, recruit officers do not pay for the six-month Police Academy training program. In fact, the day you start training you are appointed as a Police Officer I and start earning a salary, which is paid biweekly. Higher starting salaries are available based on education and law enforcement experience.
However, as a newly appointed recruit Police Officer, you will be required to purchase recruit uniforms and shoes, physical training clothing and running shoes, notebooks, and other items. You should expect to spend between $500 and $750 for items needed during training. If you require financial assistance, unsecured signature loans are available from the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union. Upon completion of training, you will be issued uniforms and safety equipment such as firearms, ballistic vests, helmets, and utility belts.