Become a Police Officer in Colorado

When Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana throughout the state, opponents of the move predicted doomsday scenarios in which crime rates would skyrocket. Instead, the opposite happened and the crime rate actually dropped. In Denver, for example, the overall property crime dropped by 14.6%. Violent crime fell by 2.4%, with murders dropping by a whopping 66.7% and robberies by 7%.

But that doesn’t mean there are zero crimes in Colorado, even though the state has a fairly good reputation when it comes to crime rates. In Colorado, you need to be certified by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board if you want to be a cop anywhere in the state. This means you have to pass a physical and psychological exam along with a background check. You also must attend a police academy. You can be certified once you fulfill all these, and when you also can:

  • Show a high school diploma or its equivalent;
  • Show a certificate for first aid and CPR; and
  • Complete an approved Colorado basic training course within two years prior to your application for certification.

Of course, individual departments nay have its own police academy requirements in Colorado that exceed the standards mandated by the state law.

Denver Police Department

In Denver, the starting salary for a recruit is $46.913. It becomes 52,126 once you become a Police Officer (4th grade).

The basic requirements (in addition to the POST requirements) include:

  • 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED
  • US citizenship
  • And no felonies and no misdemeanors involving domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, harassment, DUI, or illegal drug activity.

The application process is quite extensive. There’s an initial written exam, a background history, a physical ability test, suitability test which includes a polygraph test, a psych evaluation, a more exhaustive background check, getting into the eligible roster, getting a conditional job offer, a medical evaluation, and then finally a final job offer and admission to the Academy.

The physical ability test (PAT) includes a test in which you are sitting in a patrol car with the doors closed. You’ll then get a radio message describing the suspect’s clothing. You must get out of the car, run 130 yards, climb over a chain-link fence, go through a window frame that measures 30 inches on each side, crawl under two tables, pick the right mannequin based on the clothing description, and then drag the 150-pound dummy five feet to cross the finish line.

The entire thins must be completed in 63 seconds or less.

Colorado Springs Police Department

The requirements and battery of tests you’ll endure to get appointed to the academy is pretty much the same here. There are a few notable differences, however. You will need at least an associate’s degree or 60 college semester hours. You can’t have misdemeanor convictions related to domestic violence. No marijuana use for the last 18 months, and no other illegal drugs (and no DUI) for the last three years.

The written tests portion also includes a personality test (with no study guide offered) which tries to see if you have the psych profile they want in a Colorado Springs police officer.

As for the PAT, the physical fitness test standards measure:

  1. The number of pushups you can make in a minute
  2. The number of sit-ups you can perform in a minute
  3. The time it takes for you to finish a 5-meter Illinois Agility Run involving two turns and some cones along the way that you have to avoid
  4. Your speed as you complete a Beep Test, in which you change directions when you hear a beep.

 The background check is also stringent, and any sign of dishonesty or lack of integrity—false or omitted info in your application, or bad credit—can disqualify you.

Aurora Police Department

The process of interviews and tests is also basically the same, and so are the basic requirements. Perhaps the main difference here is that you need to have correctable visual acuity of 20/20 and you can’t be color-blind. You also need to speak fluent English.

The PAT consists of two parts. The first part is to climb a 6-foot chain link fence. The other is the patrol car test, where you run 130 yards, crawl under a table, climb a window that’s 30-inches on each side and situated 49 over the ground, run up a flight of stairs, and then drag a 150-pound dummy for five feet.

Fort Collins Police Department

The basic requirements are similar to the basic requirements of other police departments in Colorado. The difference here is that you need to speak fluid English and you must have completed a minimum of 60 semester (or 90 quarter hours) from an accredited college or university. You should have at least a 2.0 GPA.

There are 7 steps to the application process which involves the usual interviews, exams and evaluations. But the entire process can take 7 months.

The physical fitness standards are as follows:

  • 17-inch vertical jump
  • 35 sit-ups in one minute
  • 16 pushups with no time limit
  • 300-meter run in 64 seconds
  • 1.4-mile run on an outdoor track under 15 minutes and 45 seconds
  • And a timed run on a zigzagging course.

Lakewood Police Department

Again the basic requirements are the same, except that you really need Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline. You also can’t have a felony on your record after the age of 17.

The PAT is an obstacle course which combines everything you need to display as a police officer. Speed, agility, and strength are noted in the combined score.


With all the exams, interviews, and tests you have to take, it is very easy to screw up and make a mistake that can result in your disqualification. That’s just the application process, and the academy is a much more difficult proposition. To prepare yourself, you need a review material such as the Prepare for the Police Academy review manual. This covers everything from start to finish, and you’ll get tips you’ll need for every step. Learning how to prepare for the police academy is crucial, if you want to be a cop in Colorado.

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