Hiring & Training
Becoming a Beaufort police officer
Applicants to the Beaufort Police Department face a rigorous application process that includes a background investigation, extensive testing, interviews, and a physical fitness test.
Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, have at minimum a high school diploma or GED, and be at least 21 years old. If hired, they must have a South Carolina driver’s license before starting. If they served in the military, they must have an honorable discharge.
Questionnaire: Candidates must fill out a 35-page questionnaire that probes, among other things, credit history, use of alcohol and drugs, gambling history, and any criminal charges.
Background check: Criminal and credit check is conducted.
References: Personal and business references are checked.
Psychological evaluation: A licensed clinical psychologist administers a written test followed by an interview to determine applicant’s suitability for police work.
Polygraph: A polygraph test is conducted by a certified operator (not with the Police Department) using the questionnaire as the basis for questions.
Interview: A panel of five officers plus the lieutenant who oversees recruiting interviews the candidate. Each officer is assigned a question and can ask follow-ups. Applicants are rated from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) by each officer along with a recommendation to move forward or not.
Physical agility course: Each applicant must go through a timed obstacle course that includes running, jumping, crawling, climbing walls, and going through windows, similar to one they must pass at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
Aptitude test: Each applicant must pass the National Police Officer Selection Test, which includes math, reading comprehension and report writing.
Once the applicant is determined to be a good hire, an offer letter is sent to them. They must pass a drug and alcohol screen before they are sworn in.
Once hired, the recruit then begins a rigorous training process that lasts for several months.
Week 1: Recruit receives initial use-of-force and firing range training; reviews various laws and Supreme Court rulings; is certified in FEMA’s Incident Command system; and is trained to use the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, an electronic clearinghouse of crime data.
Weeks 2-5: Recruit begins South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy preliminary classes via video classes at the Police Department. Classes cover, among other subjects, responding to domestic violence calls; handling accidents; patrol procedures; use of pepper spray; ethics; and the law. Recruit must pass a test at the end of each week.
South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy: The recruit must pass a cumulative exam at the academy that covers the previous month’s instruction. Once that exam is passed, recruit begins in-person training at the academy, which is in Columbia, SC. This training lasts for eight weeks and covers such topics as:
- Use of force
- De-escalation tactics
- Defensive tactics
- Firearms training
- Pepper spray and non-lethal weapons training
- Precision driving & emergency vehicle operations
- Current laws and Supreme Court rulings
- Active shooter training
- Crisis intervention training (mental health)
The recruits also go through various role-playing scenarios that simulate realistic situations police officers encounter.
Recruits must pass various subject exams at the academy, as well as a physical agility test.
Field training: Once recruits have completed the academy, they return to the Beaufort Police Department where they are assigned a field training officer. This veteran office observes and grades the recruit on a variety of tasks he/she is given each day to accomplish. This lasts approximately six weeks, but may be longer or shorter depending on background and level of experience Once released from this training the recruit is considered prepared to assume full-time responsibilities as a patrol officer.
Continuing education & training: Officers are required by state law to take classes every year to maintain certifications. These include in domestic violence, legal rulings, crisis intervention, precision driving, and firearms training.
Officers must also complete 40 hours of in-service training over a period of three years from the academy or or other approved law enforcement training sources such as the FBI, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Department of Justice, etc.
The Beaufort Police Department encourages its officers to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. Tuition reimbursement is provided toward bachelor and master degree programs.