Statistically speaking, New Jersey is pretty much an average state when it comes to crime. But it still had more than 25,700 violent crimes reported in 2012, especially in Newark which is considered as one of the most dangerous cities in America. That city had 111 homicides for 2013. If these numbers upset you, perhaps you can make a difference by being a cop in New Jersey.
Salary Outlook for New Jersey Police Officers
New Jersey has a long history of appreciating the value of safe streets. Because of this, New Jersey has always been among the states which are most appreciative to its police officers in terms of salaries. One 2010 news report even proclaimed that the New Jersey police salaries were the highest in the nation, with a median salary of $90,672. To put things in perspective, average rank-and-file police officer in the US earns 27% more than the average resident. In New Jersey, they earn 55.3% more. But in recent years, budget problems have forced many police departments to reduce the number of police officers.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition (a publication of the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics) reported the following median salaries for the three basic types of cops in New Jersey:
- For Supervisors of police and detectives: $114,110.
- For Detectives and Criminal Investigators: $95,860
- For Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: $83,900
The latest Compensation Compendium issued by the State of New Jersey Civil Service Commission for the fiscal year 2014 showed that a police recruit now will earn $40,000 per year.
Becoming a Cop in New Jersey
In New Jersey, about half of the law enforcement agencies hire new officers according to local ordinance or regulation. The other half fall under the Civil Service (Department of Personnel; Title 11) regulations. These include the following police departments which are continuously looking for new recruits:
- Newark Police Department
- Jersey City Police Department
- Paterson Police Department
- Elizabeth Police Department
- Edison Police Department
The police academy requirements in New Jersey are the same for every municipal police job, and so are the application procedures. This is mandated by the New Jersey Civil Service Association.
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Make sure you meet the minimum requirements. You need to be at least 18 years old, and you can’t be more than 35 years old. You can be older, however, if you are a military veteran. You have to be a US citizen, and you need a valid New Jersey driver’s license. You need to have a high school diploma or a GED.
- Search for Job Announcements and Testing Information. These can be found on the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (CSC) website. It’s here where you can find job postings for police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
- Take the LEE. You can also check the CSC website for announcements regarding the Law Enforcement Examination (LEE). File an application to take the LEE written exam, which will cost you $35. The test is given at several places in New Jersey on the same day. When you file your application, make sure you indicate where you want to take your test. You need to pass this before you can be considered for any entry-level law enforcement positions.
- Get into the Eligible Pool. If you pass the LEE, you are then given a place in the Eligible Pool for the next two years. This Eligible Pool is where law enforcement agencies in Civil Service jurisdictions go to fill up their vacant positions.
- Get into the Certification List. This is a list taken from the Eligible Pool, and it ranks all the eligible candidates based on their LEE score and military service history. The Certification List is given to an Appointing Authority, and it’s from this list where hired police officers come from. But just because you are on this list doesn’t mean you will be interviewed or hired for an entry level position in a police department.
- Go through a background check. This will be performed by the Appointing Authority. This isn’t the CSC’s responsibility. There is an Appointing Authority for each agency or jurisdiction who will do the background investigation. This may involve a polygraph test. Again, just because you pass the background check doesn’t mean you will be hired by the police department.
- Pass the medical exam and psych evaluation. The Appointing Authority will schedule the medical and psychological examinations you need to take. You need to pass both to proceed further.
- Meet the Pre-Academy Admission Standards for Potential Trainees. These are the new standardsput forth by the Police Training Commission. You need to demonstrate the following performance results to meet the physical fitness test standards:
- 70.1 seconds to complete a run of 300 meters
- 1 minute to perform 24 pushups
- 15 inches vertical leap
- 1 minute to perform 28 sit-ups
- 15 minutes and 55 seconds to complete a mile and half run.
You need to pass all five of these tests, and failing one of the tests means you fail everything. There’s no retesting as well. You also need to do these tests within 20 weeks of the orientation day at the academy.
- Finish the approved police training course. This will involve lots of physical training exercises as well.
As you can see, getting into a police department in New Jersey can be a bit complicated. The physical fitness test standards are also quite daunting as well. You really need to learn how to prepare for the police academy and that means you need comprehensive review materials like the Prepare for the Police Academy manual written by an actual cop with a degree in psychology and who is also a certified personal trainer. Every step of the way will be explained, and you will get tips to maximize your chances. Failing a single step means failing everything, and you will need all the help you can get.