Preparing to Become a Modesto Police Officer

Preparing For a Career in Law Enforcement

 It is never too early or too late to start preparing for a career in law enforcement. The only automatic disqualifiers for a position as a police officer are felony convictions as an adult or any misdemeanor domestic violence convictions. If you are under the age of 18, and you are interested in a career in law enforcement, here are some things you should prevent/control:

​Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Being around or getting involved in alcohol and drugs will put you in a bad situation, regardless if you get arrested or not. The life choices you make at an early age will shape your future. Stay away from drugs and alcohol, and stay away from "friends" that do not respect your future ambitions. If you are unsure of your direction, talk to your parents, teachers, school counselors, or an adult that you trust for guidance. You can also contact the Modesto Police Department and seek volunteer opportunities. 

Juvenile Crimes

​If you have made a conscious decision to become a police officer, you need to be a law-abiding citizen NOW. People will say that your juvenile record is sealed, so it doesn't matter if you commit crimes as a juvenile. While this may be true, such activity may still impact your ability to be hired by a law enforcement agency. The bottom line is this, if you want to work in a career where the community demands that its officers be ethical, honest, trustworthy, hardworking, and law-abiding, you must embody those qualities now.

Employment History

Your conduct on the job is a factor that the Police Department reviews when considering you for potential employment. Be professional at your job and work well with your co-workers and management. While you may not get along with everyone, staying professional can earn you the respect of your co-workers and supervisors. Even a job working in the fast food industry will help you develop interpersonal skills with the public that is necessary for a job in law enforcement. Remember, police officers communicate with people from all walks of life, and must maintain a professional demeanor. You can develop necessary communication skills at every job you work.

Credit History

​Be responsible with your finances. Pay your bills on time and do not show irresponsibility by amassing a large debt in relation to your take-home income. A check of your credit history is conducted as a part of your background investigation. If you have bad credit, take the necessary steps to show that you are responsible enough to rectify the situation. (You can contact a credible non-profit, consumer credit counseling service to help you manage your debt.) It is wise to check your credit history with the three major credit agencies to verify its authenticity.


The Modesto Police Department recommends potential recruit police officers to complete a minimum of 15 units of college coursework from an accredited college or university. These units do not have to be focused on a Criminal Justice or Administration of Justice major. Some of the various degrees currently held by Modesto Officers are: Communications, Business, and History. Writing and comprehension of the English language are crucial skills for today's law enforcement officer during the police academy and into the Field Training Program.

Know the Job

What you see in the movies is not the real story. An episode of “Cops" only touches one small portion of the job. Educate yourself by going on a "ride-along" with your local law enforcement agency. Modesto Police Department's ride-along program allows authorized participants to accompany a patrol officer in his/her patrol vehicle for their shift. You will respond to a variety of service calls with that officer. You will see and hear everything that the officer does during your ride-along. It could be a busy night and you might get exposed to a lot of different situations, or it could be a slow night, and you may get the chance to ask the officer job related questions. It would be the most realistic exposure to law enforcement. You may find yourself more excited about the prospect of becoming a police officer, or you may realize that becoming a police officer is not for you. Either way, it is a learning experience you won't soon forget.

Know the Process

Getting a job in law enforcement takes time and patience once you turn in your application. We want to make sure we hire the best candidates, and besides the written, physical, and oral examinations, potential candidates must undergo a thorough background check, polygraph test, psychological exam, medical exam, and a Chief's interview prior to getting hired.

Know the Department

The Modesto Police Department has an 18-month probationary period after the academy. Once you pass the probationary period, you will become a full-fledged civil servant. After showing proficiency on patrol, you will be eligible to test for any of the specialized units in the department (as openings in those units occur.) The Modesto Police Department has a wide range of specialized units to transfer to such as: CRT (Community Response Team), Investigations: which includes Financial Crimes, Auto Theft, Narcotics, Robbery, Burglary, High Tech Crimes, Sexual Assaults-Child Abuse, K-9, Traffic (Motors), etc. The Modesto Police Department is a leader in Intelligence-Led Policing. We maximize the use of technology, innovative ideas and crime analysis in the development of our resources.