Hiring Process

The process you are entering to become a police officer is comprehensive and typically takes about 6 months to complete after you take and pass the National Testing Network exam examination. You will be placed on a competitive civil service register for up to one year and processed in descending order.

The Pre-Employment Process

Ensure you meet the requirements. You must meet the minimum hiring standards for all police officers. Once in the Backgrounding, applicants who do not meet the police department's eligibility requirements will be considered less competitive.

All disqualifications are reviewed by the HR Director or his designee for final approval.

Apply for the Entry-Level Exam | Apply for the Lateral Entry Exam

Note: Our testing process has changed in 2021 to a two-part exam/applicant screening process.  The first part of the process are exams administered by the National Testing Network. These exams can be completed virtually or in person at a National Testing Network Center. The second part of the process is administered in Seattle by the Seattle Police Department. Please carefully read the information below to ensure the proper completion of the screening process.

About FrontLine National Network Testing

FrontLine National Video-Based Human Relations and Judgment Test

46 Scenarios (90 Minutes)

FrontLine National focuses on using good judgment in enforcement, public relations and teamwork. It was specifically designed for entry level law enforcement. Candidates watch a video segment and then choose the BEST course of action in a multiple-choice format. This test is presented on video and the items play without stopping. Candidates have 10 seconds to answer each question.Law enforcement experience is not needed to answer these questions. FrontLine National is not intended in any way to be a test of knowledge of policy or technical aspects of the job. Any such information that may be needed to answer a question is provided in the test. Candidates are not expected to know anything other than what is stated. Candidates should base answers only on information given in the test and common sense.

FrontLine National Writing Test - Initial Report

1 Written Report (10 Minutes)

The FrontLine National Writing Test is given in two parts. The first part involves writing a report and the second part is a multiple-choice test. For the first part, candidates will be shown a brief scenario on video and will be asked to write a factual report describing the scenario. Candidates will watch the scenario twice with time in-between viewings to take notes. Prior to viewing the test scenario, a sample situation will be shown, and an example report will guide candidates what is considered a good response. Candidates will be able to take notes and can use these notes to write the report. After watching the test scenario twice, candidates have 10 minutes for writing.

FrontLine National Multiple-Choice Writing Test

15 Questions (10 Minutes)

After completing the FrontLine National Video Test, candidates will be asked to answer language ability multiple-choice questions (multiple-choice writing test and multiple-choice reading test). For the multiple-choice writing test, candidates answer questions on straightforward information that law enforcement officers would need to include in their actual reports. For the multiple-choice test, candidates use the initial report written in the first part of the Writing Test to answer the test questions.

FrontLine National Multiple-Choice Reading Test

30 Questions (15 Minutes)

After completing the FrontLine National Video Test, candidates will be asked to answer language ability multiple-choice questions (multiple-choice writing test and multiple-choice reading test). The multiple-choice reading test is designed specifically for law enforcement officers, a job requiring ongoing study of difficult and technical materials. This test is based on actual job materials. Candidates will be required to choose a word that best fits in the blank.

Community Attitudes Assessment

The Community Attitudes Assessment has several types of questions. You will review and make judgments about situations in photographs. You will also read statements and respond with how much you agree with the statement.

Public Safety Aptitude Test

The Public Safety Aptitude Test consists of multiple-choice questions, containing statements and answers. You will identify the most logical answer from each statement. You will have one hour to complete all the questions and you must complete them all in one sitting. You cannot skip any questions. Once the timer starts, it does not stop.

The Physical Agility Test:

Information about the Physical Agility Test requirements are available at the Criminal Justice Training Commission.

Laterals do not take the  PAT (Physical Agility Test) during the testing and hiring process.

Fill out the Personal History Information Packet

Personal History Information Packet PDF | Word Doc

Failure to return your completed PHI will result in disqualification from the hiring process. Make sure to attach photocopies of your driver's license, social security card, DD 214 and academy certification (if applicable). The Release of Information & Credit History Release forms must be notarized.

Entry-Level Oral Board:

After the successful completion of the Physical Ability test, you will be scheduled for an Oral Board. During the Oral Board you will sit across from a panel consisting of two sworn officers and a community member and you will be answering scenario based questions. Dress Professionally and practice in advance.

Prior to the oral board you will have two (2) written assessments. 

1) 30 minute written assessment - 3 questions. Here are some examples of the types of questions you may see: Why have you chosen a career in law enforcement? How have you prepared yourself for a career in law enforcement? Why have you chosen the Seattle Police Department? What are some challenges facing law enforcement currently? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself on the department in 5 or 10 years?  These three questions will be graded by your panel without you being present. As a result, use proper spelling, grammar, punctuation and make sure it's legible. 

2) 15 minute written assessment - 3 questions. This written assessment is essentially notes for yourself and will not be graded like the first written assessment. You will be able to refer to your notes during the presentation. You will have 5 minutes to give your answers to the panel once you're seated in the room. This will be question #1 of the oral board. Remember, 5 minutes to give your responses to the panel regarding three questions. The questions are similar to those listed above. The panel knows NOTHING about you so make sure you tell them about yourself within the parameters of the questions.  

The remainder of the oral board will be scenarios. It's typically broken up into four sections, three questions for each section.

1) Use of Force 

2) Ethics

3) Community Relations/Engagement

4) Interpersonal Sensitivity  

Every scenario regardless of the topic will end with - What would you do and explain why? The panel is not conversational. All the panel member is allowed to do is read you the question and you answer. Make sure you articulate to the panel what you're doing and why.  

The last question is a two-part scenario that judges your ability to multi-task and prioritize.

The Background Process

The Seattle Police Department Background Unit continually processes police officer candidates. Background investigations commence once a candidate is assigned to a detective. This process can take some time, so please be patient.

The Hiring Process

After successfully completing the backgrounding and testing processes, the most competitive candidates are offered conditional employment with the Seattle Police Department.

DO NOT QUIT YOUR CURRENT JOB or MOVE until you receive a written FINAL OFFER of employment!

After receiving a conditional offer of employment you will be scheduled for additional tests, including a polygraph, psychological exam and medical exam.

Once you receive your final conditional offer of employment you will be notified of your academy start date & employment orientation. You will need to re-take the Physical Agility Test (PAT) as an entrance requirement to the police academy. Once you successfully complete the PAT you will be given a final offer of employment.


The Law Enforcement Academy

Once hired, you will become a Police Recruit and enter the police academy. The Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) is approximately 4.5-months (720 hours). Recruits are NOT housed at the academy and will be responsible for their own housing.

**The Department retains the right to send an Exceptional Entry candidate to the CJTC Police Academy if it is determined during the hiring process that a candidates' existing training is not comparable.

Post-BLEA and Field Training

Upon graduation from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) you will become a Student Officer. You will spend approximately 4 weeks at the Seattle Police Department Advanced Training Unit in Post-BLEA. You will learn the laws specific to the City of Seattle, department policy and procedures and services specific to Seattle.

After completing advanced training, you will enter the Field Training Program, with an experienced officer who will evaluate your performance in the patrol division.

You must successfully complete all of the above segments to continue your employment with the Seattle Police Department. Failure to achieve satisfactory scores and/or performance may result in your termination.

Probationary Period and Assignments

Once you successfully complete the Field Training program you will be assigned to the Patrol Division where you will work a Patrol shift at one of our five precincts.

You will be a probationary police officer for the first year following your graduation from the academy. Once passing probation, you will become a permanent member of the Seattle Police Department.

The Police Officer training program at the Seattle Police Department is approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Board's State Approving Agency (HECB/SAA) for training of those eligible to receive veterans benefits under Title 38 and Title 10, U.S. Code.

After working 3-5 years in Patrol, you are eligible to apply for other assignments.
You become eligible to test for promotion after 5 years.

Types of Candidates

Entry Level Police Officer describes a candidate with no prior law enforcement experience and those who have completed a self-sponsored academy and have not worked as a commissioned officer/deputy for a law enforcement agency. All candidates must meet the minimum qualifications. Entry Level candidates must bring a completed, notarized, SPD Personal History Information Packet to their Physical Ability Test.  Learn more about the Entry Level Hiring Process.

If you are currently a sworn police officer who works full time for another police agency, but have worked there less than 24 months of the last 36 months, you are not a Lateral Entry Candidate. However, you may be considered an Exceptional Entry Candidate. See all Qualifications Individuals are evaluated on a case by case basis and must meet the following criteria to be considered as exceptional-entry candidates: Applicants must be certified via attendance at the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) or an equivalent academy to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) training academy, which is 720 hours long. (Basic training does not mean military or police reserve training or any other federal program not approved by the WSCJTC.)

Employed for less than 24 of the past 36 months (post academy experience), as a full-time, paid Police Officer, Deputy Sheriff, Tribal Officer or State Trooper who possess full police powers and duties.

Applicants must take and pass the City of Seattle civil service test for police officers.

Applicants must provide copies of current/valid academy certification, photocopy of a current basic first aid card and documentation of EVOC (emergency driving) training hours.

Officers will NOT have to attend the basic law enforcement academy; however, ALL certified law enforcement officers from outside the State of Washington must take and pass the Police Officer Equivalency Academy administered by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.  Learn more about the Lateral Entry and Exceptional Entry Hiring Processes.

Please Note: The Seattle Police Department retains the right to send an Exceptional Entry candidate to the CJTC Basic Law Enforcement Academy and reclassify them as an Entry Level Police Officer if it is determined that a candidate’s existing training is not comparable. Officers successfully completing the Washington State Equivalency Academy and Seattle Police Department training will then enter into the Field Training program.

You must meet the minimum hiring standards for all police officers. At the time of testing with us, you must be an experienced police officer who worked for another agency for at least 24 of the past 36 months (post academy experience) with full police powers and duties. Learn more about the Lateral Entry and Exceptional Entry Hiring Processes.

The Seattle Police Department is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity in its workforce. At SPD we acknowledge and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals and pledge ourselves to creating and maintaining an environment that respects diverse traditions, heritages, and experiences.