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Hiring Process

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Entry Level Police Applicants

The Tacoma Police Department hiring process is a multi-step process and may take up to six months for entry-level police applicants. The testing and hiring process for out-of-state applicants is scheduled in three visits to limit the financial burden of travel to the applicant. The testing process is free.


Application Process

You may apply for employment with the Tacoma Police Department online. The minimum qualifications required by the City of Tacoma are listed in the announcement. The Human Resources Department will screen out applicants who do not meet these qualifications.


Examination Process

The examination process includes an initial personal history questionnaire, a Physical Ability Test (PAT) and a written examination. The Tacoma Police Department conducts its own written and physical ability testing. The requirements for the PAT are found on the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission website.


The PAT consists of four activities: a 300-meter sprint, a 1 1/2-mile run, sit-ups and push-ups. As you prepare for the PAT, you might find these instructional videos helpful on the proper technique for sit-ups and push-ups:


PAT Push Ups Video



PAT Sit Ups Video


Applicants who pass the PAT are invited to take the written test the same day. The Human Resources Department establishes an eligible list based on applicants’ test scores and, if applicable, military experience. The list is valid for one year.


Oral Board

The eligible applicant may be invited to an Oral Board interview. The Oral Board consists of four commissioned officers and one civilian member. Candidates are ranked "competitive" or "not competitive" and competitive candidates are moved to the background phase.



The background phase may take up to two months depending on a candidate's willingness to provide information and the availability of references. This includes a check of personal and professional references, work history, criminal history, driving history and financial history. The Tacoma Police Department may also conduct personal interviews within your neighborhood and workplace.


Final Examinations

At this stage of the hiring process, a candidate will receive a conditional offer of employment, which is conditional upon the successful completion of all final examinations including a polygraph examination, medical examination and psychological assessment.



Selected candidates will receive a final offer of employment based upon approval and availability of a position.


Lateral Police Applicants

The Human Resources Department establishes an eligible list based upon the law enforcement experience listed on the application. The eligible list is valid for up to one year.


Lateral police applicants are given credit for post-commissioned law enforcement experience in lieu of the written exam and must pass a modified PAT, which includes:
  • five push-ups - no time limit
  • 14 sit-ups - one minute
  • a mile-and-a-half run - 17:55 minutes or less

Minimum Qualifications for Lateral Police Applicants

  • U.S. citizen
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Certification by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission or out-of-state equivalent
  • Currently employed by a law enforcement agency or recently released due to lay-off or reduction in force with the ability to be rehired
  • Must have 12 or more months of continuous post-commissioned street patrol experience (non-patrol sworn officer experience such as jail, corrections, or dispatch does not count as street-patrol experience in calculating the total months of post-commissioned experience). The only exception is a Law Enforcement Officer who was laid off due to budget or reduction-in-force issues and may not be more than a 24-month break in service.
For more information, please contact the Tacoma Police Department’s hiring coordinator:


Officer Gary Wurges

(253) 591-5966

(866) 812-0107