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Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Police Officer

MPD Officer Directing Traffic
Motorcycle Unit

How can I become a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department?

Information about becoming a policing officer with the MPD is available online at If you would rather speak to someone in person about this, please call the Recruiting Division at (202) 645-0045 or (800) 994-MPDC.

Do I have to live in the District of Columbia to be an MPD officer?

MPD officers do not have to reside in DC; however, there is a residency preference that adds points to the rating and ranking score of qualified candidates who live in the District of Columbia.

If a family member has been in trouble with the law, will that decrease my chances of becoming a police officer?

No, police officer applicants are judged based upon their criminal history, not of their family.

Are there any restrictions on how many times you can take the Police Officer test?

Police officer applicants may take the entry-level examination three months after failing the test, but they may not take the test more than 4 times.

What opportunities for advancement are available to police officers?

There are an abundant number of opportunities both for advancement and branching out into different career paths within the Metropolitan Police Department. Police officers spend approximately 3 years learning their basic patrol duties and during that time period may also work as a member of the patrol district’s vice unit or in a tactical unit if selected. After 3 years with MPD, police officers may apply and compete for many specialized jobs including crime scene search officer, officer assigned to the Canine Unit, Emergency Response Team or Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (bomb squad), Harbor Patrol Unit, Helicopter Branch, Narcotics and Special Investigations, and Special Events to name just a few. Moreover, police officers may compete in the centralized selection process for investigator that is the entry-level job in the detective career path. Officers interested in advancing to the rank of sergeant, must have 5 years at the time of the promotional examination that is given every other year.

Is there a policy that covers diversity?

Yes, fulfilling the mission of the Metropolitan Police Department requires a variety of individuals who are not only interested in serving DC communities, but who also have unique skills, such as the ability to speak a foreign language, and different cultural perspectives to apply to the work they do. By maintaining a force that is diverse and all-inclusive, MPD will continue to provide the District with the best possible response to community issues and needs.

MPD is proud to have a sworn workforce that is diverse both in terms of gender and ethnic background. Currently, 23% of MPD’s sworn force is made up of women at all ranks, and 77% are male. MPD continues to strive to recruit more Asian and Hispanic police officers who are bilingual to better serve the District of Columbia’s growing Asian and Hispanic populations. Currently, Asian and Pacific Islander police officers make up 1.61% of the force and Hispanic police officers make up 7.05% of the force, while African-American and Caucasian officers account for 61.76% and 29.58% of the force, respectively.

Do you offer a part-time employment program for retired police officers and/or their spouses?

MPD does not currently have an employment program for retired police officers or their spouses. However, retired MPD officers are eligible to apply to come back to MPD as Senior Police Officers who are allowed to keep their retirement annuity while working for MPD at a base salary capped at the Class 1, Step 5 non-probationary rate that includes the 4.2% retention allowance. Senior Police Officers are allowed to earn compensatory time and overtime, as well as holiday pay.

Can I apply college credit accrued at an earlier time towards career advancement?

There is no policy in place to allow college credit to be applied to career advancement due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of police officer applicants joining MPD are coming into the Department with Bachelor of Arts or Science degrees. In practice, however, many police officers who are college graduates do well in the promotional processes for advancement to the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. Moreover, those with specialized degrees do have an advantage in selection processes for assignments that coincide with their specialized education or training.

Can I purchase my own service weapon?

MPD issues either the Glock Model 17 or 19 to MPD members assigned to patrol duties. However, members at the rank of lieutenant or above may carry the smaller Glock Model 26 as their department-issued service pistol. In addition, members may purchase the Glock Models 17,19 or 26 as their off-duty firearm; however, this firearm must be used solely as their off-duty weapon while the department-issued firearm must be used as their on-duty weapon.

What is the Metropolitan Police Housing Assistance Program?

The Metropolitan Police Housing Assistance Program (MPHAP) provides police officers in the District of Columbia with financial assistance and other incentives to become first-time homeowners in Washington, DC. When all steps are carefully followed, and all required documentation is submitted in a timely fashion, MPHAP settlements can occur in 30 days or less.

Click here for more information on the Metropolitan Police Housing Assistance Program.

How does the residency preference work?

An applicant for District of Columbia government employment in the Career Service (or as an attorney in the Excepted Service) who is a bona fide resident of the District at the time of application may claim a hiring preference over a non-resident applicant. Residency preference is to be claimed by completing Form DC2000RP and submitting it with the employment application.

Residency preference will be afforded as follows: ten points will be added to the rating and ranking score of each qualified applicant who claims a hiring preference upon application for employment in the Career Service. A person who claims a residency preference and is selected for the position must agree in writing no later than the date of appointment to maintain residency for a period of seven consecutive years from the effective date of his or her appointment. Failure to maintain bona fide District residency will result in forfeiture of employment.  Residency preference may be requested when competing for promotions and vacancies in the Department for specialized uniform positions.

Is there a limit on how much supplementary life insurance I can purchase for myself and my family?

Yes, there is a limit of no more 5 times the basic term life insurance benefit for the employee and this supplementary life insurance must be elected with the basic term life insurance option at the time of hire or during very limited open season periods.

Is there a policy for caregiver leave?

Yes, the District Government has a very generous Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that permits MPD employees once they have at least 1,000 hours on the job and have worked continuously in the year prior to requesting FMLA leave to take 640 hours of family leave to care for a family member with a serious illness. Family leave may also be requested to care for a newborn or adopted baby. This benefit guarantees that the employee may take leave without pay under FMLA, but the employee may also use any accrued annual leave or compensatory time toward the 640-hour benefit over a 24-month period.

Is there a hiring preference for veterans?

Veterans preference is granted by law to disabled veterans, to veterans who served on active duty in certain time periods or military operations, and, under certain circumstances, to the spouses, widows(ers), or mothers of deceased or disabled veterans. Five or 10 points, as appropriate, will be added to the rating of the qualified veteran.

I have heard that I can participate in a police ride-along. What do I need to do to get this process rolling?

If you are interested in a ride-along, you must print, complete and return the signed PD 369 application form. View the ride-along section for more information or to download a copy of the PD 369.