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At The Region - X: LEO Qualifications and Training Requirements

'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. This section looks at the history and development of first responder standards, and spotlights the way that small departments integrate local specialties into national regulations. In this issue, At the Region begins by looking at requirements in the northwestern United States, including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. EMS requirements for this area can be viewed here and Firefighting requirements here.

FEMA Regional Map
FEMA Region X - Law Enforcement Officers (LEO)

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 officers must also 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.


Alaska Police Standards Council

The Alaska Police Standards Council, which covers 47 member departments, has the ability to establish minimum selection and training standards for police employment in Alaska. Individual agencies may, at their discretion, set requirements that exceed the standards provided by the APSC. The Council also provides a calendar of upcoming training events available state wide, which can be viewed here here.

Minimum standards for police officers include:

   •   Citizen of the United States
   •   21 years of age
   •   Possess good moral character
   •   High school diploma or GED
   •   Certified by a licensed physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant on a medical record form supplied by the council to be physically capable of performing the essential functions of the job of police officer
   •   Certified by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist, on a psychological record form supplied by the council, to be mentally capable of performing the essential functions of the job of police officer and is free from any emotional disorder that may adversely affect the person's performance as a police officer.

Police departments in Alaska are forbidden by law to hire anyone:

   •   Who has been convicted of any felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence by a civilian court of Alaska, the United States, or another state or territory, or by a military court;
   •   Who has been convicted, during the 10 years immediately before the date of hire as a police officer, of a crime of dishonesty or crime of moral turpitude, of a crime that resulted in serious physical injury to another person, or of two or more DUI offenses, by a civilian court of Alaska, the United States, or another state or territory, or by a military court;
   •   Who has illegally manufactured, transported, or sold a controlled substance, unless the person was under the age of 21 at the time of the act and the act occurred more than 10 years before the date of hire;
   •   Within the five years before the date of hire, has illegally used a Schedule IA, IIA, IIIA, IVA, or VA controlled substance, unless;
      o   That person was under the age of 21 at the time they used the controlled substance
      o   An immediate, pressing, or emergency medical circumstance existed to justify the use of a prescription Schedule IA, IIA, IIIA, IVA, or VA controlled substance not specifically prescribed to the person


Alaska has the discretion to waive part or all of police training requirements for an applicant who has held a valid certificate within 10 years of application, provided that they:

   •   Completed an equivalent training program
   •   Undergo a 12 month probation period within an Alaska police department
   •   Complete the Alaska Police Standards Council (APSC) field training program
   •   Complete a minimum of 80 hours of classroom training for laws, systems, and procedures considered unique to Alaska, as well as a first aid refresher course and firearms qualifications. The reciprocity academy is generally held in Sitka, Alaska, in January; admission requires a sponsoring agency and APSC approval.

These guidelines represent the minimum reciprocity standards required by the APSC; individual law enforcement agencies may have additional requirements for employment.


Idaho Post LEO

Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)

The Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has the ability to establish requirements LINK_TEXTfor the employment, retention, and promotion of peace officers, who must be certified by the Council within one year of employment. Minimum standards for the potential hire of peace, county detention, juvenile detention, and juvenile probation officers are provided in the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act (IDAPA). These standards include: LINK_TEXT

   •   US citizenship
   •   Minimum of 21 years of age
   •   High school diploma or GED certificate
   •   Good moral character
   •   The ability to pass a background investigation, traffic record check, and FBI fingerprint clearance
   •   Adherence to the Code of Conduct/Ethics
   •   Six month probationary period once hired.

For qualified hires, there are several options approved by POST for obtaining certification. The first two options include attendance at the Idaho POST Academy in Meridian, Idaho. In the agency-hire option, a law enforcement agency would hire an applicant, and sponsor their completion of the academy. Applicants must complete the Idaho Physical Readiness Test within six months of the Academy start date, and complete online courses prior to attendance. In the Self Sponsored option (patrol certification only), applicants would pay their own tuition to attend the 10-week POST Academy.


Idaho offers certification to officers from out of state departments with approved training requirements through its challenge program. Officers seeking to be certified through this program must first be hired by an Idaho department. They must then complete a challenge packet that includes documents such as firearms qualification, hearing exam reports, and the physical readiness test. Once the packet has been submitted to POST, the regional requirements can be completed, including:

   •   Online classes and exam in Idaho Law
   •   Idaho POST firearms short course qualification
   •   Idaho POST Physical Readiness Test
   •   Written Challenge exam


Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST)

The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is responsible for setting the minimum training and employment standards for public and private security providers, as well as fire and telecommunications personnel. Under DPSST regulations, prospective members of law enforcement must meet minimum standards to include:

   •   Citizenship
   •   Minimum age of 21
   •   Criminal background check including fingerprinting
   •   Moral fitness
   •   A high school diploma or GED, as well as a Department-approved reading and writing test (waived if the applicant has a degree from an approved four-year institution)
   •   Physical, visual and hearing examinations

Individual agencies may have requirements that exceed these basic standards.

Once hired by a department, qualified applicants are required to complete a Basic Training Course, including field training, within 12 months of hire for correctional officers, and 18 months for other law enforcement officers. Applicants must also meet the department’s physical fitness standard. Police officers must hold an active CPR/First Aid certification and complete 84 hours of department approved training every three years.


Reciprocity in Oregon is offered for officers who have received equivalent out of state training. In order to gain a waiver for training requirements, applicants must provide documentation of equivalent training or experience that is approved or certified by the employing agency in the state in which the training was received. Additional courses or remedial training may be required at the Department’s discretion.


Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC)

The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission sets minimum standards for law enforcement training and employment. For all departments, recruits must complete 720 hours of basic law enforcement training within six months of hire; this can be done at the state Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA), or the Washington State Patrol Academy in Sheldon. Applicants pass a physical ability test prior to acceptance in the academy, and must be hired by a law enforcement agency prior to attendance. In order to be eligible for admission, applicants must have:

   •   A high school diploma or GED
   •   A valid Washington State driver’s license
   •   The ability to pass a background investigation, polygraph, medical exam, and psychological examination


Reciprocity requirements are provided state-by-state in Washington, with equivalence either granted for out of state applicants, or conditionally accepted upon review of state curriculum and applicant work history (generally requiring that the applicant has worked as a fully commissioned law enforcement officer). Detailed information on reciprocity can be found here: here.

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