By Ofc. Stephanie Kiesow - August 24, 2021


UCPD is Hiring: Now Here’s What to Expect in The Hiring Process

So, you are thinking about becoming a police officer? Perhaps this desire has been burning brightly inside you ever since you were a little kid. Or, perhaps you come from a long lineage of law enforcement officials and you hope to continue the tradition. Maybe you just stumbled upon the career and think it would be an exciting fit. Do you seek to help people, or do you seek job stability? Whatever your reason(s) are for wanting to become a police officer, make sure it is something your heart is passionate about. This job isn’t for the faint of heart and it will test you in many different ways! With that being said, this job is well worth the effort, and the rewards (both tangible and intangible) are endless!

For the best chance to succeed it is important to understand and prepare for the process; the requirements and the expectations need to be pondered and adequately prepared for. 

Still interested? Awesome! Keep reading to get an idea of what the next year of your life will look like…

The hiring process for the UCSB Police Department is similar, if not identical, to neighboring agencies. Selecting the most mature, intelligent, resilient, and compassionate individuals is a lengthy process! Below you will find the list of hiring requirements to start preparing yourself for:

-Physical Agility Test: Eat healthy and start exercising! To ensure you are physically capable of handling the job, you will be required to take a physical agility test that may include runs, sprints, pushups, sit ups, an obstacle course, wall climb, and/or a body drag. *Quick note to my friends with less upper body strength: Pump that iron! Many recruits struggle with tests that require more upper body strength (ask me how I know!) so it’s imperative to physically prepare with that in mind. 

-Written Test: Make education a priority! Read, study, and find resources to prepare for the (Pellet B) written test. Not only will you be challenged physically in a Law Enforcement Career, but you will also be challenged mentally. The written test ensures you will have the mental capability to meet a set standard of educational capacity in order to be successful in this career field. While you do not need a college degree or military experience to become a police officer, having those extra couple of years of education can give you a leg-up in this competitive, demanding field. 

-Background Investigation: Stay clean! Police officers are held to a high ethical and suitability standard. Every part of your past will be investigated and discussed by a background investigator. A minor mistake in your past may not automatically disqualify you, however, MAKE SURE YOU ARE HONEST ABOUT IT! Being deemed as dishonest will end your career before it even starts. 

-Mental Health Evaluation/Psychological Exam: Get your mind right! It is no secret that police officers face challenging situations every day. A psychologist will administer an in depth exam which provides an independent indication to whether you are a suitable candidate for this demanding career. Again, another example of when honesty will get you a lot further than being dishonest. 

-Medical Exam: Stay healthy! A doctor will check your eyesight and hearing, as well as make sure your heart, lungs, and overall health is strong enough for a life in law enforcement. These exams can happen before, during and after the academy as well as into your career as a Peace Officer. 

-Oral Board Interviews: Research, practice, and stay calm! Oral boards help to evaluate new hires to determine if an individual would be a good fit for the specific department, and as a police officer in general. At minimum, make sure you're familiar with the information the police department has shared about itself on their website. Practice speaking about why you're interested in working for that department with a friend, family member, or even in front of a mirror. 

According to California state data from 2018, 98.5% of police recruits fail somewhere in the screening process. The hiring process is no joke, obviously. If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back! This is a big accomplishment…but don’t do the victory dance just yet. There is still a lot to do before you find yourself in the driver’s seat of a patrol car. 

Once you are selected for a police officer trainee position and are slated to enter the police academy, the real excitement (and work!) begins. You will be pushed to your limits: physically, mentally, and emotionally. You will be required to perform physical agility tests, written tests, and practical scenarios while enduring a psychologically-demanding environment. If you repeatedly fail tests, you flunk out of the academy. Good study habits and an optimistic attitude are essential.  

 Oh, and let’s talk about sleep. You like ten hours of sleep? Kiss your bed goodbye for a while. During the police academy, you will be given homework and will need to study. A lot. You may get no sleep; some nights you may get lucky and get a few hours of sleep. Just remember it is all temporary, so try to roll with the punches and remember why you are there. 

The police academy is intentionally made to train, educate and teach new officers. Just as important, it is also designed to weed out the recruits who are incapable of performing to the level needed in such a high-pressure career. It is meant to be tough. Prove you are tougher. If you can graduate, you deserve a big celebration! 

Remember that victory dance mentioned earlier? We aren’t there quite yet…

After graduating from the police academy, you will embark on approximately six months of Field Training. You will be assigned to Field Training Officers who will critique your every move, educate you on every call for service you respond to, and eventually give you more and more responsibility once you prove you can handle it. You will be evaluated on everything from officer safety to your demeanor with the public to investigatory skills. 

Make it off of Field Training? That victory dance is all yours! YOU HAVE EARNED IT! You made it past the painstakingly and lengthy hiring process; you have proved your resiliency and graduated the police academy, and you made it past all those Field Training Officers (who you thought hated you, but they actually wanted to see you succeed!). YOU DID IT AND YOU BETTER DANCE YOUR BEST DANCE!

Now what, you ask? 

You are a solo police officer. You made your dreams come true and you worked hard for it. This means you will spend countless hours in your community in an attempt to make it safer, happier, and better. This means knowing that answering that “one call” could be the difference in helping to save someone’s life. 

This means that you get great benefits, work for a progressive agency and have more job stability than most other careers. This also means you are selfless, compassionate, and strong. This means that although you will miss holidays, celebrations, and other important life events, the calling you feel to help create positive changes in society supersedes all the sacrifices. This means you have become a police officer; one of the most admirable and challenging jobs of all.

Interested in joining? Apply today with the UCSB Police Department!

I wish you strength and perseverance on your journey,

Stephanie Kiesow

Police Officer

UCSB Police Department