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Police Officer Applicant FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions that we receive about the hiring requirements, hiring process and the department

Is there an minimum or maximum age requirement to be hired?

To be eligible to apply, applicants must be at least 20.5 years of age at the time of their application .

Is it too late to get into policing?

If you can meet the hiring requirements, pass the required exams and meet the physical demands of the job, it is never too late to start a career in policing. We have hired officers who have done full 20+ year careers in the military or the private sector before becoming police officers.

Do most officers come from similar job backgrounds?

No. Our department is very diverse in terms of work experience officers had prior to becoming officers. Our officers include former electricians, members of the military, IT workers, professional musicians, retail workers, accountants, social workers and many other occupations. Their prior experiences and training are all assets to the department and the community and we rely on their expertise in other fields other than law enforcement for community outreach and assisting members of our community in non-enforcement ways.

What is the best way to prepare for testing?

The initial stages of the hiring process require taking a written exam and Physical Agilities Test (PAT). The best way to prepare is to visit www.nationaltestingnetwork.and take the practice written exam and review the PAT requirements. Practice taking the PAT test at home until you are confident that you can not just meet, but exceed the minimum requirements for the PAT exam. It is natural to be nervous on test day. Knowing that you are capable of doing more than the minimums come test day helps ensure that you have the confidence in your abilities to pass the exam. If there areas that you are concerned about, focus on and practice those portions of the exam to get better at them.

Do I have to work patrol or can I start as a detective or doing investigations?

All officers hired including lateral officers are required to work uniformed patrol in the Patrol Division. Upon completion of probation, officers are eligible to put in for specialty assignments including detective positions.

Detectives need to have a firm understanding of the community, basic policing and knowledge of the law and how to apply it properly prior to becoming detectives. By starting out on patrol, all officers receive a solid foundation in policing, policing methods, tactics and gain a better understanding of the community they are serving.

Is there a residency requirement to work for Tukwila

No. Residency requirements as terms of initial or ongoing government employment are not allowed in Washington per RCW 41.12.075

How long is the training process


The Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) is approximately 4.5-months (720 hours). This is not a live-in academy. Recruits are NOT housed at the academy and will be responsible for their own housing. While in training, recruits will receive their full salary and benefits. The academy is mostly Monday – Friday from 8AM – 5PM with a few evening hours required as well.

After completing BLEA training, you will enter a 12-week Field Training Program, with an experienced Field Training Officer (FTO) who will evaluate your performance in the patrol division. The FTO program is broken down into four phases. The first three phases are 4-weeks each and build upon the previous one. Upon successful completion of the first three phases of field training, the student officer completes a final week of evaluation in which the FTO only observes them and does not offer assistance or guidance


All certified lateral-entry officers begin their career with us in the Field Training Program. The training program for laterals is also four phases similar to entry level. Lateral officers previous experience is recognized by our department as being valuable and adding depth to our department.

All certified lateral-entry law enforcement officers hired form outside of Washington State are required to take and pass a 2-week POlice Officer Equivalency Academy within 180 days of hire and is administered by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC). The 2-week course is to bring officers up to speed on Washington specific laws that may be similar but still different from the states that they came from.

Will my military clearance or training speed up my hiring or training process?

In short no. Washington State does not recognize military police programs as prior law enforcement training that qualifies for a lateral position. All military members that are not currently certified law enforcement officers as recognized by the WSCJTC must apply as entry-level applicant.

Having a secret or top secret military clearance does not help the background process either as we put all applicants through the same background process.

I worked in security or had prior career/tactical training. Can I skip some of the training?

No. All entry-level applicants must attend and successfully complete the BLEA in Burien.

How long is the probation period?

For entry-level recruits, probation is 12-months and starts upon successful completion of field training.

For lateral-entry officers, probation is 12-months from the date of hire.

What are the hours like?

Our Patrol Division operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week year round. Patrol officers are assigned to one of our four patrol shifts listed below which are 12-hour shifts. Shifts are assigned based on seniority and officers bid for the shift they want every six months. Once assigned to a shift, patrol officers will remain on that shift for six months until the next shift bidding process starts and the next six month shift begins. Every patrol officer gets every other Saturday off and has a set schedule. Once assigned to a schedule, you will have the same three days off every week and will work every other Saturday.

Days & Nights A – Sunday to Tuesday and every other Saturday

Days & Nights B – Wednesday to Friday and every other Saturday

Due to the 12 hour days, an officer will work an extra 8 hours per month over the regular 40-hour work week. Those extra 8 hours are put into a bank of 96 hours which the officer can use as paid time off or paid out each year if not used.

Where will I be working?

Officers who have successfully completed the BLEA and the Field Training Program will be assigned to a patrol shift and operate within their assigned district in a one-person patrol unit. We have five patrol districts which are assigned at the beginning of each new 6-month shift rotation based on seniority.

While you may be assigned to one district as your primary district, you will be required to work in another district if there are staffing shortages due to sick call-ins, vacations, training etc.

Officers are encouraged and expected to get to know the residents and businesses in their assigned district and foster positive relationships with them.

Are there part-time officer positions or auxiliary/reserve positions?

We do not have part-time officer positions. We do not have an auxiliary or reserve officer positions either. Those who work or volunteer as part-time, reserve and auxiliary or special police officer’s are not eligible as lateral transfer hire per the WSCJTC equivalency guidelines.

Will I just be responding to dispatched patrol calls?

The main function of our Patrol Division is to respond to 9-1-1 calls and non-emergency calls such as parking complaints, traffic complaints etc. We are a busy department and some days officers may find themselves going from one dispatched call to another during their entire shift while also having to make time to complete their reports.

Officers are also expected to patrol their assigned district and act as a visual deterrent. When not actively answering 9-1-1 calls in their district, officers provide backup to officers in other districts, perform traffic and parking enforcement and can do foot patrols within their assigned districts.

Who decides whether or not I am the one that responds to a call?

If a 9-1-1 or non-emergency call is placed with our dispatch center ValleyCOM, our dispatchers will dispatch you to all calls within your district. If you are currently on a call and other calls are pending in your district, officers from other districts will assist you by handling those calls if they are not actively on a call as well.

All calls are dispatched by our dispatchers based on the priority of the type of call. An in-progress crime such as an assault or still in-progress call will be dispatched before calls regarding incidents that are not actively occurring or don’t involve a life safety issue.

Do I have to pay for my uniforms and equipment?

All officers are supplied with all necessary uniforms, equipment, firearms and ammunition. There is no out of pocket cost to the officer for standard issued equipment. We have a quartermaster system for equipment replacement as it becomes worn or unservicable.

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