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Hiring Process

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Police Officer Hiring Process


The following is a general overview of the police recruit hiring process. This process is described in detail so that our candidates are informed and know what to expect. The hiring process is used as a measure and an opportunity for us to make a well-informed decision as it relates to a particular candidate’s suitability to become a National City Police Officer. The potential disqualifying criteria are listed in the following link: Potential Disqualifying Criteria

On behalf of every member of the National City Police Department, we wish each candidate best of luck in this process and we look forward to making you a part of our law enforcement family.

Hiring Process 1

Eligibility Requirements

Entry-Level Police Officer Eligibility Requirements

  1. Education and Experience – Graduation from high school or possession of 12th grade G.E.D. certificate.
  2. Knowledge, Skills and Abilities – Ability to: observe, learn, understand and interpret various laws, police practices and procedures; analyze problems and have the potential to rationally and calmly take appropriate action in emergency and stressful situations; undergo strenuous physical conditioning; prepare accurate and grammatically correct written reports in English; establish and maintain cooperative working relationships with persons of widely varying socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds; and understand and carry-out oral and written directions.
  3. Must be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident alien who is eligible and has applied for citizenship. Must be at least 20-1/2 years of age at time of appointment. Must possess a valid California Driver’s License at time of appointment. Must meet all requirements for admission to Basic Police Academy recognized by California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training.

Lateral Police Officer Eligibility Requirements

  1. Successful completion within previous three (3) year period of Basic Police Academy which meets all the requirements of the California Commission on Police Standards & Training (POST); or
  2. Employment within the last 12 months in position requiring California Basic POST Certificate; or
  3. Current enrollment in Basic POST Academy and have successfully completed the first half (1/2) of a POST recognized academy at the time of application.
  4. Must meet all other California POST requirements. Academy graduates must attach a copy of Academy Certificate with application. Computer literacy is desirable. (Details of the essential duties are on file in the Human Resources Department.)

Application Process

Please visit our Join Us – Police Officer page for application information

Join Us – Police Officer

Written Examination

Candidates are required to pass a written examination for the position of Entry-Level Police Officer. Lateral Police Officer Applicants are NOT required to take a written examination. No prior law enforcement knowledge is required to pass this examination. The test is designed to measure general aptitude needed to perform the duties of a police officer. Those candidates who pass the written examination will be scheduled to attend a physical agility examination. A study guide for the written examination and additional information can be found at the following POST websites:

Physical Agility Test

Purpose / Location

The physical agility test is designed to gauge an Entry Level Police Officer candidates’ ability to handle physical stress similar to what he/she may encounter during the course of performing the duties of a police officer. Lateral Police Officer candidates are NOT required to take the physical agility test. The test is typically administered at the Southwestern College Police Academy (Otay Mesa HEC) located at 8100 Gigantic St. in San Diego.

Course Description

Each candidate will be required to complete the POST Work Sample Test Battery which consists of the following:

  • OBSTACLE COURSE/AGILITY RUN: Run a 99-yard obstacle course consisting of several sharp turns, a number of curb height obstacles, and a 34-inch high obstacle that must be vaulted
  • BODY DRAG: Lift and drag 165 pound lifelike dummy 32 feet
  • CHAIN LINK FENCE: Run 5 yards to a 6-foot chain link fence, climb over fence, and continue running another 25 yards
  • SOLID FENCE CLIMB: Run 5 yards to a 6-foot solid fence, climb over fence, and continue running another 25 yards
  • 500 YARD RUN: Run 500 yards

After completing the WSTB, candidates will be given a short rest period before participating in a 1.5 mile run. The maximum time allowed to complete the run is 14 minutes.

Helpful Tips and Information

Candidates should wear shorts, sweat pants or loose fitting clothing that will not restrict arm or leg movements and comfortable shoes with a gripping rubber sole. Prior to the start of each test, candidates will be provided with a three-pound bullet proof vest, which must be worn during the obstacle course. Please bring your own bottle(s) of drinking water. Test monitors will be present at the time of the test to describe the test more fully and answer any questions.

Due to the physical stress involved in taking this test, it is recommended that each candidate increase their overall physical fitness well in advance to avoid injury and possible failure. Most candidates who fail the obstacle course were unable to scale the 6 foot wall and/or successfully drag the 165 pound “simulated victim” the required distance. A candidate may find that he or she can scale the 6 foot wall or drag the “simulated victim” the entire distance while rested, but not after completing all of the required parts of the obstacle course prior to those events. Obviously, cardiovascular fitness plays an important role in one’s ability to successfully complete this examination. Preparation and practice will increase the candidate’s chances of passing this examination. Candidates who pass the physical agility test will be given the date and time of their oral interview.

Oral Interview

The oral interview is designed to measure the candidate’s suitability for the position of Police Officer. During the interview, you will be asked several questions to determine suitability for hire. The oral interview is designed to measure the candidates’ communication skills, professional qualifications, and life experience as it may relate to the position of Police Officer. Candidates should wear professional attire during the interview process.

Each candidate may be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Training and experience: The interview provides a unique opportunity for candidates to clarify or elaborate on the responses they provided on their application and/or personal history statement. Work experience, education, and training may be explored.
  2. Interpersonal skills include attributes important for successful personal interactions with others. Questions may be asked that directly relate to interpersonal skills; however, by its very nature, the interview provides a unique opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate these attributes.
  3. Oral communication is another skill that the interview, by its very nature, is uniquely capable of assessing. In fact, this skill is manifested in every response by the candidate, making the creation of separate questions about oral communications optional.
  4. Work habits include such things as dependability, initiative, conscientiousness, adaptability and perseverance. It includes the candidate’s likelihood of adhering to the basic rules and policies of the job and organization, such as attendance, overtime, off-duty behavior, etc.
  5. Problem-solving/decision-making: The interview is well suited to assess problem-solving and decision-making by requiring candidates to think on their feet in addition to discussing their decision-making experiences. Entry-level candidates are not necessarily expected to provide solutions equivalent to those of experienced officers if asked a law enforcement related question.
  6. Interests, motivation and values tap applicants’ reasons for interest in the job, their preferences for specific work environments (e.g., working alone or in teams, traditional vs. community-oriented policing) and their attitudes about work (e.g., possessing a strong customer service orientation).

Background Investigation

Those candidates who pass the oral interview may be immediately brought into the background investigation process. Candidates will initially be scheduled to have their fingerprints recorded, sign various forms and waivers, and complete a (confidential) Pre-Investigative Questionnaire. The Pre-Investigative Questionnaire contains approximately 293 questions that center on those factors that bear a demonstrable relationship to one’s fitness and suitability for the position of Police Officer. A few topic areas of inquiry in the questionnaire include: Education, Employment History, Criminal/Legal History, Traffic History, Financial History, Military History, Law Enforcement History, etc. Without exception, this questionnaire WILL BE completed while at the National City Police Department.

Candidates will be provided with some forms to review, sign, and complete while at home. Candidates will have fourteen calendar days to complete these forms and submit the most current version of the POST Personal History Statement. The Peace Officer (form 2-251) Personal History Statement can be downloaded and saved to most computers allowing candidates to save their progress while completing it, as well as retaining the document for future purposes.

Current peace officers from any state other than California may apply as a lateral police officer after they have been issued a current California Commission on Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) Basic Waiver and Re-qualification Course certificate. Please review POST Form 2-267 for more information on this process.

The candidate will have time to gather all of the required personal original documents needed for the next meeting during the previously mentioned two week period. The below list of original or certified original documents will be requested by each candidate’s background investigator. Original/Certified Original documents can and should be ordered immediately by each candidate if they do not currently possess them.

Required Original Documents

Each candidate will be required to show proof of the following original or certified original documents during the course of the background investigation:

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. California Driver’s License
  3. Social Security Card
  4. High School diploma or equivalency, such as a GED: The original/certified test score along with the original GED Diploma are required as proof of passing.
  5. Selective Service Registration letter (Male applicants born on or after December 31, 1959)
  6. DD-214 forms for applicants having served in the (active and reserve) Armed Forces.
  7. College transcripts
  8. Marriage documents, certificates, and/or dissolution papers
  9. Evidence of auto insurance
  10. Any P.O.S.T. Certificates: Training Certificates, Basic P.O.S.T. Academy Certification, etc.
  11. P.O.S.T. Basic Waiver documents
  12. P.O.S.T. Re-Qualification Basic Course Certificate
  13. Any police training records

Fourteen days later (or earlier if requested by the candidate), the background investigator will review the previously mentioned questionnaires with the candidate present. The area of review and discussion will mainly revolve around the topics included in the POST Personal History Statement.

Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA)

Each Police Officer candidate will be required to submit to a CVSA examination in order to verify their truthfulness in answering the required background documentation. All Computerized Voice Stress Examiners are National City Police Detectives who are trained by certified CVSA Instructors. Tests are conducted professionally and within a confidential environment. The requesting parties shall be given only an indication of a Pass or Fail without revealing any specific details of the examination.

Conditional Job Offer

The candidate will be given a bonafide Conditional Job Offer after he/she successfully passes the entire background process. This job offer is conditional upon the candidate passing a medical examination with (1) a city appointed physician; (2) and a city appointed psychologist.

Final Job Offer

Once deemed medically suitable for duty, the candidate will meet with the Chief of Police and be assigned a date upon which they will begin their first assignment as a National City Police Recruit/Officer. It is at this time that the candidate must accept or deny the granted position. If currently employed elsewhere, the candidate may submit their two-week notice of their intent to terminate employment. All Lateral Police Officers will begin their first assignment in the Patrol Division under the supervision of a Field Training Officer (FTO). All Police Recruits will immediately attend the San Diego Regional Police Academy.

Academy Training

The San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center, located on the Miramar College campus, is part of the Public Safety program at Miramar College. This program follows the guidelines of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and serves law enforcement agencies throughout San Diego County and beyond. The regional academy provides recruits with the skills, practical training, and discipline to prepare them for a long and rewarding career in law enforcement. The regional academy provides recruits with the skills, practical training, and discipline to prepare them for a long and rewarding career in law enforcement.

Recruits/students who are sponsored by the National City Police Department will attend the academy Monday through Friday, eight hours a day, for 25 weeks. Students attend classroom lectures and participate in technical skills training throughout this period. Students must successfully pass POST examinations during the training to continue and successfully complete the academy program. Upon graduation, recruits receive a completion certificate from the San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute at Miramar College.

After a graduate has completed one year of satisfactory service with a law enforcement agency, their employing agency may apply for the employee’s Basic POST Certificate from the Commission on Peace Officer Standards & Training. You can learn more at the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center.

Recruits will attain the rank of Police Officer upon successful completion of the Regional Academy. A National City Police Officer’s first assignment is in the Patrol Division under the guidance of an experienced Field Training Officer.

Field Training Program

The National City Police Department Field Training Program is a 16-20 week program designed to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as a National City Police Officer.

Contact Information

If you have further questions about the hiring process, please contact anyone in the Recruiting/Background Division Monday-Thursday, 0600-1600 hours:

Detective C. Gutierrez / Tel. 619-336-4357 /

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