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How do I Become a Police Chief?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 17, 2024
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In order to become a police chief, you must first become a police officer. To accomplish this task, you must be physically fit, pass a civil service exam, and be admitted to a local police force. Most police officers begin their careers as patrol officers, though some police officers gain higher positions from the start. Following two to three years as a patrol officer, you can then begin to apply for higher ranking positions.

There are many different job levels within any police force ranging from lieutenant to detective. By moving through these levels, you can eventually gain a position as a police chief. Another way to be a police chief is to demonstrate your knowledge of police affairs, prove that you have extensive analytical skills, and make a point of being noticed within the force. Frequently, police officers who have been a part of a police force for a number of years are promoted to higher positions.

Depending on the town or city that you live in, competition to become a police chief may be fierce. Larger cities tend to have hundreds of police officers who are vying for the position of police chief. Contrastingly, smaller towns may not have as much competition, though small town police officers do compete with one another in order to become police chief.

In order to become a police chief, you must prove your worth to a police force. By becoming a vital part of a police force, you are likely to be promoted to the position of police chief. Aside from the many steps needed in order to become a police chief, all people within this position must possess certain personality traits.

Police chiefs must be able to communicate well with others, manage large groups of people, and act with diligence. These qualities are expected of any chief, and they must be demonstrated on a regular basis. Additionally, police chiefs must be sociable, since it is often required that these individuals attend regular events and meetings with other city and town officials.

While many people want to become a police chief, this position is hard to attain. Still, those that manage to gain the position of a police chief are often highly rewarded both monetarily and socially. To apply for the position of police chief, take a moment to review the aforementioned steps. By following the right avenues, becoming a police chief will be an attainable aspiration.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By tigers88 — On Mar 28, 2012

I think becoming a police chief requires a lifetime of dedicated police work. But it also require lots of political skills. Police chiefs do not change that often and when the decision is made to find a new one there are often lots of qualified candidates from both inside and outside the department. Being the best cop does not necessarily mean that you will end up as the next chief.

It's unfortunate that this is the case but that is just the way that power works. It's not like we elect the smartest guy to be President even though that makes a lot of sense.

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