At the Region is an ongoing feature that discusses the state-by-state training, certification, and employment requirements of first responder departments across the nation. In this issue, At the Region looks at law enforcement requirements in Region VIII: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
Law enforcement includes an extremely diverse range of agencies dedicated to promoting safety and public order through the application of national and regional laws and regulations. The variation of laws and penalties nationally and internationally necessitates region-specific training and specialization, while at the same time, officers must be familiar with overarching legislation and judicial decisions governing procedure and jurisdictional reach. This applies to agencies at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels, all of whom serve and protect their constituency in a dangerous field that exists within a complex and challenging framework.
Colorado The < ahref="https://coloradopost.gov/about-post/post-board">Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (POST) under the Colorado Attorney General manages the certification of all peace officers and reserve officers in the state. Prior to certification, all applicants must undergo a fingerprint/background investigation, pass physical and psychological exams, and attend a basic academy. The Board also requires that applicants hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and be first aid/CPR certified. In addition to meeting certification standards, hiring agencies generally have https://coloradopost.gov/node/665 additional requirements, such as an interview process, entry examination, and review of driving records.
Applicants may attend a basic academy either post-hire through their department, or through an independent program. A full list of POST approved academies may be found here; programs listed as “Agency” require that attendees be hired by the hosting or other approved department prior to attendance. Community college programs have a separate application process, and are paid for by the applicant. Following the completion of the academy, applicants must pass the POST Certification Exam; payment for test out must be received by POST one week prior to the test out. The total cost is $525.00 ($125.00 per skills test, $150.00 for the written exam). There are 3 attempts available for each skill and the written exam. You must pay the fee again to retake any of the tests. Registration information is available on the POST website. Certification remains active for three years after employment has ended, or indefinitely as a Reserve Officer.
Colorado offers reciprocity through a provisional certification process, which can be transitioned to a full basic certification by “Test-Out” or a refresher academy. In order to be eligible for provisional certification, an applicant must:
• Order a Provisional Application Packet
• Provide proof of out-of-state certification or licensing
• Complete and submit a form
• Become CPR/First Aid certified
• Provide proof of a high school diploma/GED
• Complete a background check
• Possess a Colorado Driver’s License or alternate prior to beginning work
Once these requirements have been met, an officer who has been employed within six months of the application will be issued a provisional license, and will have six months to complete the written and skills testing. Applicants who have not been employed in law enforcement within the previous six months will need to pass the written examination prior to receiving the provisional license. After the provisional certification has been issued, officers who choose to use the Test-Out option will undergo a two-day POST examination involving firearms qualification, driving, arrest control, and a written examination. Each section costs $125, for a total of $500, and fees may be made by check or money order to POST. Applicants taking the refresher academy will attend a two- or three-week program at one of the approved training facilities, followed by a written examination. Once either of these options has been completed, an applicant will be issued a basic certification.
The Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) under the state Department of Justice sets training standards and issues certification/recertification for all public safety officers in Montana. Individual agencies may set requirements that exceed those of the POST Council (for example, State Troopers must meet additional corrected/uncorrected vision requirements); however, many agencies use the standards as provided.
At a minimum, applicants must:
• Be 18 years of age
• Be a US Citizen
• Possess a high school diploma or equivalent
• Pass a fingerprint/background investigation and be of sound moral character
• Undergo a medical exam by a physician appointed by the hiring agency
• Complete the Basic Course at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) within one year from the date of appointment
Most agencies also administer a test to applicants, and recruits are selected from a pool of qualified candidates. The Montana Law Enforcement Academy provides an intensive 12-week training course to all state, county, and city law enforcement officers; correction officers; detention officers; juvenile detention officers; motor carrier service officers; and public safety communicators. The Basic Academy is held three times a year; the schedule may be found here, and application forms may be downloaded on their website. An applicant will be certified by POST after the completion of the academy and one year’s service as an officer.
Montana also allows qualified applicants to attend the MLEA Basic Course through a Pre-Service Program prior to being hired by a department; however, applicants must pay for the academy out of pocket. The cost for in-state residents is $5,100 and out-of-state residents is $7,100, which includes: tuition, meals, lodging, equipment, supplies and acceptance deposit. Applicants are responsible for their own funding sources. Law Enforcement Officer Basic Course qualifies for GI Bill Benefits. Applicants are expected to make full payment at registration. Instructions about how to apply can be found here.
Montana POST provides regulations for certifying out-of-state applicants. To be eligible, applicants must have:
• Completed an equivalent academy in another state, and have training records approved by POST
• Served at least one year as a law enforcement officer
• Demonstrated no break in service exceeding five years from the date of hire in Montana
Once POST has approved all training records, applicants must complete the Legal Equivalency Basic Course, offered through the MLEA, which consists of an orientation, classroom training, firearms qualifications, and a final exam. The Equivalency Course must be completed within the first year of appointment as a Montana peace officer. Applicants may apply for certification following their one year probationary period with a Montana department.
All part-time and full-time paid members of law enforcement in North Dakota must be licensed by the http://www.post.nd.gov/ Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board. Individual departments may set standards that exceed State requirements, but for training and licensing purposes, must:
• Be a citizen of the United States or in resident alien status as defined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service laws and regulations
• Possess a high school diploma or general education equivalency certificate (GED)
• Not have pled guilty to or have been convicted in any state or federal court for any felony, crime of moral turpitude, crime of domestic violence or any other offense that has a direct bearing on the applicant's ability to serve as a peace officer
• Not be prohibited from using or possessing a firearm under state or federal law
• Have a valid driver's license
• Undergo a complete background investigation conducted by the hiring agency including the submission of two employment fingerprint cards for both State and Federal record checks
• Have passed both a medical examination and psychological evaluation approved by the Board
Once an eligible applicant has been hired by a department, they will be issued a temporary “limited peace officer license,” which will allow the new hire to perform basic officer duties. In order to receive this license, the applicant must meet written and practical firearms qualification standards and submit a Peace Officer Application for License and fee to the POST Board. The hiring agency will also file a New Employment Peace Officer Form and License Eligibility Form to POST prior to the applicant’s first day of employment.
To transition from a limited to full license, officers must complete the first available basic training session at the Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) in Bismarck. For enrollment information and housing (if required), contact LETA at (701) 328-2447, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A schedule of upcoming trainings may be found on the Academy website.
An individual having peace officer experience or having completed an equivalent basic full-time peace officer training course conducted in another state or by a federal law enforcement agency may qualify for a partial waiver of basic full-time peace officer training requirements. The administrator of the agency employing the individual may apply to the board for a partial waiver. The board will review all applications for a waiver and may grant a partial waiver.
South Dakota’s Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training Commission under the Division of Criminal Investigation oversees law enforcement education and certification. Individual departments may set higher requirements, but all applicants for certification must meet http://sdlegislature.gov/Rules/DisplayRule.aspx?Rule=02:01:02:01 minimum standards:
• Citizen of the United States;
• At least 21 years of age at time of appointment;
• Have fingerprints taken by a qualified law enforcement officer;
• Is of good moral character;
• Is a graduate of an accredited high school or has a high school equivalency certificate acceptable to the commission;
• Is examined by a licensed physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner who certifies, on forms prescribed by the commission, that the applicant is able to perform the duties of a law enforcement officer;
• Is interviewed in person by the hiring agency or its designated representative before employment. The interview must include questions to determine the applicant's general suitability for law enforcement service, appearance, personality, temperament, ability to communicate, and other characteristics reasonably necessary to the performance of the duties of a law enforcement officer;
• Takes the oath of office as required by SDCL 9-14-7 or 3-1-5. The oath may be taken before the nearest available judge of a court of record;
• Has not unlawfully used any prescribed drug, controlled substance, or marijuana within one year before the time of application for certification;
• Is eligible to reapply for certification, if the person has for any reason failed to successfully complete the basic law enforcement training program;
• Has not had his certification revoked, voluntarily surrendered certification, had an application for certification refused, or been dismissed from the basic training program, unless the commission upon application declares the person eligible for employment or certification; and
• Has not become ineligible for employment or certification as a law enforcement officer, as a result of any proceedings involving any revocation, suspension, surrender of, or resignation or dismissal from certification, employment, or training, unless the commission, upon application, declares the person eligible for employment or certification in South Dakota.
Applicants who meet these standards and have been hired by a South Dakota department must become certified through Law Enforcement Training’s Basic Certification Course within their first year of employment. This 520-hour course is hosted three to four times per year at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre. Officers who attend will be required to demonstrate proficiency in firearms, emergency vehicle operations, use of force, and defensive tactics.
An applicant must complete formal application including documentation showing the applicant to be exempted from the training program. The applicant must have completed a course of equivalent content and quality in another jurisdiction no more than two years previous to the date of his/her appointment or that he/she has been employed within the previous two years as a certified law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction and has completed a course of equivalent content and quality. Upon approval of documentation, the applicant may take a written examination. Upon successful completion of the written examination, the applicant will be required to complete the Domestic Violence; Criminal Law; Traffic Law; Legal instruction; and demonstration of Firearms, Use of Force, and Emergency Vehicle Operations Skills. Upon successful completion of the reciprocity requirements and if the applicant meets the minimum standards for certification as stated in Â§ 2:01:02:01, a certificate as a certified law enforcement officer will be issued.
Reciprocal certification in South Dakota may be granted to officers who have received equivalent basic training in another state if the training was received within two years of application, or if the applicant has been continuously employed in law enforcement following the training. The Reciprocity Checklist includes all items to be submitted with the application. Officers whose training has been deemed equivalent must pass a written examination consisting of 400 true/false and multiple choice questions; the exam should take two to six hours, and students will be provided with a Hazardous Materials Guide, accident formulas, a calculator, and South Dakota Criminal and Traffic Laws Manual. After completing the exam, applicants must complete training and evaluation including domestic violence, criminal law, traffic law, and legal instruction, and a demonstration of firearm and emergency vehicle operation skills.
The Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) under the Department of Public Safety oversees the training and certification process in Utah. In addition to standards put in place by individual departments, State code requires that officers:
• Are US citizens
• Are at least 21 years old
• Are able to pass a background check
• Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
• Demonstrate good moral character and be free from any mental or physical condition that would interfere with the performance of duties.
All applicants must pass the National Police Officer Selection Test (NPOST) before they will be admitted into the Academy. A fee is assessed by the testing center each time the exam is taken. You must have your exam results prior to entrance into the Academy. A list of the exam centers is provided on this site for Testing Information. In addition to employment with a law enforcement agency, the POST academy requires that applicants pass an Entrance Exam; the exams are held at several sites around the state, and dates, locations, and hours may be found here.
Applicants attending one of the seven Satellite Academies must pay for the program out of pocket; fees and entrance requirements vary based on the program. Classes are generally held in the evening and weekend hours, and follow a standard semester format. Students graduating from a Satellite program receive equivalent State certification status as a Utah Peace Officer. POST maintains a list of active employment opportunities here.
If you are presently working as a peace officer in another state, or have recently graduated from a peace officer training program in another state, you may qualify to waive all or part of the Utah peace officer training program. A written examination and a physical fitness examination are required to waive any portion of the training program. To request a waiver exam for peace officer certification in the state of Utah. Contact POST at (801) 256-2300 for an application packet, study material, and a date and time to take the exam.
The Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST) sets employment, certification, and training standards; maintains basic and continuing education training records; and enforces certification/recertification standards in Wyoming. State standards require that a peace or detention officer:
• 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.
Once hired by a department, recruits are required to complete a Commission-approved basic training course within one year of appointment. Most agencies train through the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy (WLEA), though independent department training facilities may also be certified. The Academy offers three Basic Courses each year, and training dates, applications, and physical fitness standards are available on their website (minimum fitness standards must be met prior to acceptance into the academy). The Basic Certification issued by the state is valid for two years, after which officers must recertify through an Advanced Certification; this requires 80 hours of additional Commission-approved training and a minimum of one full year of employment.
Applicants may also complete the Wyoming Academy through the self-sponsored Pre-Service program prior to being hired by a department. A non-refundable application fee of $400.00 must accompany applications for Peace Officer Basic courses. Applications will not be processed until fees are received. Tuition and fees for Peace Officer Basic are $4,600.00 Pre-Service applications are only available through the Pre-service program representatives.
Wyoming has a standard procedure in place for certifying out-of-state officers who meet POST requirements for employment, have completed a basic course that meets Commission standards for equivalence, and have been out of law enforcement for less than five years. Applicants who have been out of law enforcement more than five years but less than ten, and had been employed in law enforcement for a minimum of five continuous years, are eligible to attend the “mini peace officer basic” rather than full Basic Course at WLEA.
To complete certification, qualified applicants must:
• Pass a challenge examination within the first two attempts
• Complete the Wyoming Criminal Law and Procedures course offered by WLEA
• Complete a Commission-approved domestic violence course
• Pass the WLEA firearms qualification course
• Possess a current CPR certification
Once an applicant has been hired by a Wyoming agency, the agency will submit an Employment Form to the Commission within 15 days of the appointment.